Your comprehensive guide to kombucha carbonation and flavouring. You will find practical, helpful and super flexible tips for kombucha’s second fermentation. Use these tips to create the kind of flavour and carbonation you desire.
This is part #2 of my Kombucha Series. I will share tips on how to make fizzy and flavoured kombucha.
Kombucha carbonation is created during kombucha’s 2nd fermentation process by infusing kombucha with additional ingredients and let it continue to ferment in a tightly sealed bottle. The microbes continue to feed on sugar and create carbon-dioxide. The carbon-dioxide is trapped in the bottle, therefore creating that fizz when the bottle is opened.
If you only want flavoured kombucha but not the fizz, then you don’t need to 2nd ferment your kombucha. Simply bottle the flavouring ingredients with the kombucha from your first fermentation, and move the bottle into the fridge. You can pretty much re-use any glass bottle. The bottle doesn’t need to be able to hold the pressure.
If you like the original kombucha flavour, and only looking to add some fizz, you still need to 2nd ferment your kombucha. You don’t need to add any infusing ingredients, but you may still need to add some sugar or alternative sweetener, if your kombucha is already fairly tart. The additional sugar is to feed the yeasts and create the carbonation during the 2nd fermentation.
And of course if you want both flavoured and fizzy kombucha, you will need to 2nd ferment your kombucha. The flavour infusion and carbonation are achieved in the same process called the 2nd fermentation.
Before you can begin kombucha 2nd fermentation, you will have to complete kombucha’s 1st fermentation first. You can find everything you need to know about kombucha’s 1st fermentation in 11 important things to know for a successful kombucha brew.
I will also include a very flexible recipe and instructions on kombucha’s 2nd fermentation at the end of this article.Jump to Recipe
Kombucha Flavouring Tips
- Infuse kombucha with cut fruits: Use small pieces of fruits such as fresh or frozen berries, diced apples and pears, cherries and cantaloupes, all will work well. Think fruits that are firm. The fruits used for infusion will get mushy, as they are digested by the microbes in the kombucha. I personally do not enjoy the texture of mushy fruits in a fermented drink. Therefore, I never use fruit puree in kombucha’s second fermentation.
- Use sweet fruits: Keep in mind your kombucha is already acidic. It will become more acidic after the second fermentation. Adding sweet fruits will balance the sour kombucha flavour. When you use acidic fruits, such as lemon and lime, you may want to add a sweetener at the same time.
- Infuse kombucha with vegetables, herbs and spices: Small slices of ginger really work well, as well as herbs such as basil, mint, lavender and lemongrass. Try some health promoting foods like goji berries, ginseng, turmeric or spirulina, and spices like cardamon, cloves and cinnamon. You can create more complex flavours by adding a few drops of pure vanilla or almond extract.
- Add more sweetness if needed: You may need to add more sweetener, if you are infusing your kombucha with ingredients that don’t contain much sugar. If you don’t like the idea of adding cane sugar in the 2nd fermentation of kombucha, you can use alternative sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, or molasses. Remember a lot of the sugar will be consumed by the microbes in the kombucha instead of going into our bodies.
- Create your own flavour combination: Think about your favourite flavour combination for ice-cream or cocktail to get ideas for your kombucha flavour. What other people like will not be what you like.
- Lastly to help you with ideas – my favourite kombucha flavour combinations for second fermentation are: a) pomegranate flavoured kombucha from 3 part kombucha and 1 part pomegranate juice; b) kombucha infused with a mix of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries; c) kombucha infused with ginger and pear with a touch of honey for sweetness. I have heard great things about the Big Book of Kombucha, for even more ideas on kombucha flavours.
Kombucha Carbonation Tips
- Use a good quality bottle: You will want to use a high quality bottle that can seal tightly and hold pressure inside, so that the kombucha carbonation you created will not escape the bottle. The best bottle for fizzy kombucha is a flip-top bottle designed for carbonated drinks. The round-shaped flip-top bottles are stronger than the square shaped ones in resisting pressure, therefore less chance for cracking and explosion.
- Use ingredients containing sugar to create carbonation: For example, bottle your kombucha with sweet fruits, sweet juice, honey, maple syrup, sugar etc. for 2nd fermentation. The higher the sugar content of your additional ingredients, the more your are feeding the yeast, the more carbonation you will create.
- Ginger can make your kombucha more fizzy: adding pieces of ginger not only create extra flavour, it helps to create more kombucha carbonation as well.
- Leave your bottled kombucha to ferment for additional time: Once you transfer your kombucha with the extra ingredients into a tightly sealed bottle, you will want to let it ferment in room temperature for a few more days, before moving to cold storage. The time period for 2nd fermentation can vary depending on the temperature and how active the yeasts are in your kombucha. I talked about how various factors affect yeast activities in your kombucha in my previous article 11 important things to know for a successful kombucha brew. The 2nd fermentation will typically take 3-7 days. The warmer the temperature, the faster the fermentation, therefore the shorter your 2nd fermentation should be.
- Check your kombucha 2nd fermentation: Before you are experienced enough to know how long it takes to create the level of kombucha carbonation you desire, you can check along the way. To determine if the kombucha is fizzy enough for you, you can quickly open the bottle and close back. Or you can ferment in a soft plastic bottle along side your glass bottle. When the plastic bottle turned hard, you know it is filled up by carbon-dioxide and your kombucha will be fizzy. Remember how many days it takes, and you can use the same day count as a rough guideline for future batches. Note that the exact length of time will still vary, due to so many factors.
- Be ware of explosion: If you leave the kombucha out too long for the 2nd fermentation, the bottle may explode, especially in the summer time. You need to move your finished 2nd fermented kombucha into cold storage before too much air pressure is built up inside the bottle.
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A super flexible kombucha's 2nd fermentation recipe to make the kombucha carbonation and flavour you desire.
- 3-4 cups Mature acidic kombucha
- 1-0 cup Sweet fruit juice
- 1/4 cup Small pieces of fruits such as berries, apple, pear, cherry, canteloupe
- A few slices of ginger
- A pinch of herbs and spices
- 1 tsp sugar, maple syrup, or honey
- 1 litre flip-top bottle
Filter your mature acidic kombucha through a coffee filter. This is to remove dead yeast strands in the kombucha from the 1st fermentation. Note that more dead yeast will appear at the end of the 2nd fermentation again. However, filtering the dead yeast now will reduce the amount in the final product.
Fill your flip-top bottle with the filtered kombucha. If you are not planning to add fruit juice later, you can add more kombucha to fill the capacity of the bottle.
Use any flavour combination from the ingredient list above. You don't need to use all of the juice, fruits, ginger, herbs, spices and sweetener. Choose a combination and the amount that suits your taste. Add your chosen ingredients to the kombucha bottle, make sure to leave at least an inch of air space on top.
Close the bottle tightly. Let it ferment until it reaches the level of kombucha carbonation you desire. Typically 3-7 days in room temperature between 21º and 29ºC. But could be less or more. See the "kombucha carbonation tips" section for details.
Move to cold storage when the 2nd fermentation is done. Your fizzy flavoured kombucha will last in cold storage forever!
- If your flip-top bottle is smaller than 1 litre, then reduce the amount of all ingredients.
- Prep and cook time include only time actively spent on making the kombucha, do not include time waiting for fermentation to progress.
- The calorie calculation is based on 1 serving/1 cup.
If you have any questions, tips and techniques, or a favourite kombucha flavour combination, share in the comment below. They will most likely help a fellow fermenter!