The best part about brewing your own kombucha at home is experimenting with different flavors.
Kombucha is so versatile the flavor combinations are limitless.
If you’re just starting out with brewing kombucha, or are just starting your research, you may be wondering how you actually flavor the kombucha itself.
Well, this article is going to cover everything you’ll need to know to flavor your kombucha!
Let’s jump right in.
The Best Time To Flavor Your Kombucha
Most homebrewers flavor their kombucha during what is called the second ferment.
For those of you who are new to brewing, kombucha is brewed in two stages:
- The first ferment
- The second ferment
The first ferment is always completed in the brewing vessel.
You’ve probably seen them before – they are usually 1-gallon glass jars with a cloth covering on top.
This is the typical brewing vessel you’ve probably seen at your friend’s house or in pictures online.
The second ferment is completed once the kombucha has been bottled. It is precisely this time when most people flavor their kombucha.
By flavoring in the bottles, you can try out at least 6 different flavors for each brew you complete. It’s also the best way to get that carbonated kombucha we’ve all be looking for.
The Best Way To Flavor Your Kombucha
Through my experience, the best way to flavor your kombucha is through infusion inside the bottle during the second ferment.
Infusion is when you cut up different pieces of fruits, vegetables, herbs, or any number of other ingredients and add them to the bottle.
Because kombucha is so acid, anything organic that comes in contact with it will be broken down. A term used to describe this process is ‘bioavailability’.
In other words, kombucha will easily take on any flavor of anything it comes in contact with.
This is why adding only a teaspoon of chopped ginger can have such a big impact on the flavor of the kombucha.
Flavoring Your Kombucha Through Infusion
Before you enter the bottle stage (usually after 7 days of your first ferment) you should start planning on the different flavors you want to try for this brew.
You can look up different recipes – here are 11 of my favorite – or try to come up with your own.
Buy the fruits or herbs beforehand so that you are ready when it comes time to bottle.
If the fruits you are after are not in season then it’s totally fine to buy frozen. It can sometimes even be more convenient to use frozen as they usually take a lot less prep.
Once you have your supplies follow these simple steps:
- Chop up at least 1 tablespoon of each fruit you want to use. Depending on the recipe, the fruit quantities may vary.
- Place the fruit combinations into your flip-top bottles.
- Fill the bottles with kombucha up to the wire.
Let the fruit infuse into the kombucha for at least 2 days. I usually let my fruit sit in the bottle until I open it.
In my personal opinion, this is the best way to flavor your kombucha. It maintains the unique kombucha flavor will still taking on the characteristics of the fruit.
Another popular way to flavor your kombucha is through fruit juice.
Flavoring Using Fruit Juice or Fruit Puree
One of the downsides to flavoring your kombucha through infusion is you have to deal with the fruit pieces after it’s done.
One of the better ways to avoid this is to use fruit juice. You can either juice your own from fresh fruit or buy store-bought fruit juice. Either way will work.
I like to keep the fruit juice to a minimum as I find that too much fruit juice dilutes the kombucha flavor.
I usually keep the fruit juice to 1/4 cup max. But feel free to experiment with what you like.
High sugar fruit juice can sometimes lead to kombucha explosions. Make sure you are burping your bottles if you are using more than 1/4 cup of fruit juice.
Alternatively, you can puree your favorite fruit and add it to the bottles during the second ferment.
I find this way to be even more cumbersome than infusion. Unless you like the texture of your purees fruit.
The only way to remove the fruit is through a strainer – which is an extra step that I sometimes don’t have the patience for.
Flavoring During The First Ferment
Occasionally, you will hear about people flavoring during the first ferment. This is usually because they have fallen in love with a single flavor and know they will be brewing with that flavor for the next couple of batches.
To flavor your first ferment you will just add the chopped up fruit to your 1-gallon brewing vessel.
Make sure you use a minimum of 1 cup of chopped up fruit for your vessel. I usually like to use at least 2 cups of fruit for my brews.
Pros To Flavoring During The First Ferment
The biggest advantage to flavoring during the first ferment is you won’t have to dig the fruit out of the bottles when you want to drink the kombucha.
Flavoring in the second ferment usually means you will have to deal with the flavoring agent before you are able to drink the bottle.
Usually, this is as simple as straining the kombucha into your glass, but it can become tedious over time.
If you know you love one flavor of kombucha then it may make sense just to flavor the entire batch in the brewing vessel.
The Cons To Flavoring In The Vessel
There are two downsides to flavoring in the vessel:
- You are stuck with 1 flavor (unless you do a second flavoring during the second ferment).
- You will miss the opportunity to add the sugar from the fruit in the bottles.
One of the best parts about brewing your own kombucha is experiment with the different flavors. If you are only able to try out a single flavor for each brew you will be limiting yourself to only a handful of flavors.
Secondly, the key to getting fizz in your kombucha is having enough yeast and enough sugar inside your brewing bottles.
It’s the yeast that produces the CO2 and it’s the bottles that capture the fizz. If you don’t have sugar you won’t have fizz.
Sugary fruits are the best way to get extra carbonated kombucha (hint – try cut-up pineapple!)
If you only flavor in the brewing vessel all of the CO2 your yeast makes will just escape out of the top and not be captured in your bottles.
Other Ways To Flavor Your Kombucha
Some people like to flavor their kombucha after it has been bottled. In other words, they flavor their kombucha right in the glass before they drink it.
This is typically done if someone is making a kombucha cocktail or kombucha smoothie.
Kombucha can also make a great addition to any fruit drink that needs a little kick.
That’s all of the popular ways I know of to flavor your kombucha. If you have any other methods I’d be curious to hear about them below!
Thanks again for stopping by.