October 14, 2015

Flavoring Kombucha, the Second Brew

I have to admit that until my fourth batch of kombucha, I wasn't sure I was going to stick with it.

I just wasn't getting the bubbles and flavor as in those bottles of kombucha from the store. I wasn't impressed with my results at all, and I didn't enjoy drinking it much.

To flavor kombucha and hopefully produce some carbonation, you can ferment it a second time. It sounded very confusing to me at first but eventually it did start to make sense: the first ferment uses the scoby to ferment the sweet tea, then you remove the scoby and add flavorings for the second ferment.

For my first attempt I added some chopped strawberries and a slice of fresh ginger. Adding ginger is one way to increase carbonation. I let this ferment for three days like the directions said. It tasted good, but I definitely wanted it stronger and fizzier.

My second attempt used chopped peaches and ginger. It sounded good in theory, but I'm not a fan of the taste, and I still wasn't getting it fizzy enough.

The third batch I didn't even do a second ferment and thought I'd just drink it unflavored. I just put the jar in the refrigerator. I didn't like it much that way either. I considered giving up.

The fourth batch seemed to be the charm. The scoby looks really good now: thicker and healthy. When I started this batch I split the scoby, removing the original quart-size scoby that I'd bought, and using the baby from the last batch. I used strawberries and ginger again this time, increasing the amount a bit. I also let it ferment longer. The day finally came when I put that flavored batch in the refrigerator to get cold.

I had a glass with dinner, it had good flavor and it fizzed like sparkling cider. Oh yes, this was perfect. I was a fan again! Hubby tried a sip and made a face; he said the previous batch was better and this was too vinegar-y, but I thought it was wonderful. Me, who had a terrible sweet tooth not that long ago.

This is the recipe I used for my strawberry/ginger flavor. I've made this one too, apple/cinnamon/ginger kombucha. It's very good, but next time I'll put some cloves in it too. It sounds great for fall, doesn't it? I'm looking forward to next summer when I'll have fresh blackberries again. One reader suggested using pomegranate-cranberry juice for flavoring; that sounds pretty amazing too. As you can see, you can make an infinite array of flavors, and the sky is the limit once you get the hang of it.

Just like with my morning smoothie, I try to use fresh, organic fruit if possible. If it's homegrown, all the better; I can and freeze a lot of homegrown fruit for use in my smoothies and will use some of it to flavor kombucha too. When I have to buy frozen or canned fruit or a bottle of juice, I look for 100% juice, or fruit canned in 100% juice with no sugar added. I'm drinking these for the health benefits as much as for the taste, so I want to keep it as healthy as possible; this isn't the place for a sugary substitute that's full of preservatives and other things I can't pronounce.

Every person's taste is different, and the temperature and brewing environment in each kitchen are unique. Everything has come together here, I think, and I've finally figured out how to make kombucha that I like. I've finally learned how much fruit and ginger to use to get the flavor and carbonation I want, and how long that second ferment should take. I'm happy.

If you brew your own kombucha, how do you flavor it? I hope you'll share in the comments.

Related Posts:
Adventures in Kombucha
The Kombucha Adventure Begins
Flavoring Kombucha, the Second Brew
How I Make Kombucha

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. So glad you found your happy place!
    I think the pomegranate-cranberry juice makes it taste like apple cider with a little pizazz! I usually let my first ferment sit for a week and the second for 2-4 days.
    Have you tried water kefir yet?


  2. Hello, Angie. I haven't tried water kefir. I've given milk kefir several chances but just don't care for it.

    I let my first ferment of kombucha sit for eight days, and the second ferment for 3-4 days. I like it on the tart side. :-) Thank you for the cranberry-pomegranate suggestion, I've bought a jug of juice and will be trying that one next.

  3. YAY! I use it in my water kefir, as well.
    The only way I really like milk kefir, is in smoothies. I'll make it with bananas and some homemade liquid stevia. Sometimes, I'll add coconut oil. It's really good.
    Now my turkeys really love milk kefir! I make them brown bread and mix some crumbles of it with the milk kefir and they go crazy! I call it turkey crack!

  4. I'd like to do this. I just have to find a place to get a scoby again.

  5. Laura, you might post a "wanted" ad on craigslist or a local facebook swap/sale group. There are also some fb groups for kombucha lovers; some of these folks are willing to send their extra scobys for the cost of postage. If all else fails, you can buy a scoby on etsy (that's what I did) and even amazon.com. I don't have enough to share yet.

  6. My scoby went moldy on our second try. I'm still planning on trying again sometime soon. Love the flavor recipes! Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop!

  7. I'm so sorry you had mold so early. I'm told that once you've been doing it for awhile and have some back-up scobys in a hotel, it's not so disastrous. I hope you can try again.

  8. I just started making Kombucha recently, I've been making goat milk kefir for a while. I'm not sure if my house is warm enough and whether I should get a warmer, but it seems to make kombucha in 7 days or so and the scoby is growing. I've been putting pomegranate blueberry juice in mine but will have to try some ginger slices. I make one batch of black tea and one of decaf green tea. I got a scoby locally on craigslist.

  9. It sounds like you are well on your way to kombucha success, Hannah. From what I've read, if your kombucha is finished in seven days you don't need a warmer. I know it can take longer in winter when the temperature is lower. I guess we'll both figure it out as the weather turns colder, right?

  10. Hi there! If you pour your kombucha in a snap top bottle a few days before it is "done", that really helps with the fizz too. Thank you for sharing this eerie on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! :)

  11. Jes, I'm saving up to buy some of those bottles!

  12. I'm so glad you didn't give up, and that your have now got your kombucha just how you like it! I've been really interested in reading your journey with this, Kathi. Thank you so much for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.

  13. Thank you, April. It's nice when things finally come together, isn't it? Thank you for hosting the hop each week.


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