Kombucha Second Fermentation Guide
If you’d like to add a fruit flavor or increase your Kombucha’s carbonation, try a second fermentation. When you have finished your 1-2 weeks of initial fermentation ( try our Kombucha one-gallon recipe), pour the fermented tea into glass bottles for storage. Rather than putting them into the fridge and decreasing the fermentation rate, leave them at room temperature to continue fermenting.
Kombucha 2nd Ferment Flavoring
There is an endless variety of ways to flavor Kombucha during the second fermentation. Try fresh, frozen, and/or dried fruit, fruit juices, herbs, spices, berries, peppers, and even dark chocolate. This makes the second fermentation a fun and exciting experience you can share with the whole family.
Kombucha’s second fermentation is similar to how beer and champagne are made. The fizziness is created when yeast eats up the sugar from the added fruit, converting it to carbon dioxide.
Bottling Kombucha Step-by-Step
While the kombucha tea is still in the brewing vessel, give it a good stir. This will help mix the yeast and bacteria evenly throughout the tea and ensure each bottle has a fair amount of carbonation.
Add 1/2 cup of chopped, pureed, or juiced fruit and the Kombucha tea into each 16 oz. bottle. Be sure to leave at least 1 inch of head-space at the top of each bottle. Use a pitcher and funnel to prevent spillage.
Choosing Bottles for a Kombucha 2nd Fermentation
Use Grolsch-style bottles. However, make sure they are a quality glass bottle; just because it looks like a Grolsch-style bottle does not mean it is one. I suggest buying new to ensure you get the right kind. The bottles have to be strong enough not to explode under the pressure of carbonation.
How Long Should You Second Ferment Kombucha?
Store the bottles in a dark cupboard, or at least away from direct sunlight for 2 days, up to two weeks at room temperature. The carbonation will build during this time. Make sure to burp the bottles every couple of days to release excess pressure and avoid exploding bottles.
Opening Bottles Safely
The buildup of carbon dioxide during secondary fermentation means the bottle will be under pressure. Cover the bottle with a towel to catch any spraying tea and open the top slowly over the sink while applying downward pressure. Check out this post on how to avoid bottles exploding during the second stage of fermentation.
Testing Carbonation Levels of Kombucha
A simple way to test the kombucha for the perfect fizz level is by using a plastic bottle as a sort of barometer. When you are bottling your kombucha with the glass bottles, also fill one plastic bottle. You will know it has reached a good level of carbonation when the plastic bottle has hardened.
Keep notes on time it took for future batches. Beware that the time can still vary a little between batches because of temperatures and sugar levels.
After two days, you can start testing the flavored Kombucha to see if it’s ready. If the flavor is to your liking, then it is time to refrigerate the bottles. The cold temps will help keep the tea’s carbon dioxide, so it’s less likely to fizz over and make a mess when you open it.
What if the Kombucha is not fizzy enough?
If you are not satisfied with the carbonation, you can remove them from the refrigerator and let them continue fermenting for another 2 -3 days. Then chill and test again to see if it has reached the level of carbonation you desire.
Due to the vast variables of temperature and sugar levels in the fruit, some batches could be ready in two days, while others could take a full week to reach the perfect fizz level.
Suggested Ratios for Flavoring Kombucha Tea
When flavoring with fresh, frozen, or dried fruit, start with a ratio of 10-30% fruit and 70-90% Kombucha tea.
If flavoring with fruit juice, start with 10-20% juice and 80-90% Kombucha tea.
Herbs’ strengths can vary, so you are left to experiment and create the best ratio for your preferred flavor profile.
Equipment needed for a Second-Ferment & Flavoring Kombucha
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