Continuous Brew Kombucha Recipe

Keep this popular, traditional fermented beverage on hand with a continuous brew kombucha.

From "Back to Butter"
June 2014

Yield: 1 gallon (3.8 L) per week

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A traditional foods diet is usually where those who have tried others with little success or health improvement land in the end. Back to Butter (Fair Winds Press, 2014) offers traditional food dieters a much needed resource without sacrificing their favorite foods. Molly Chester and Sandy Schrecengost teach how to stock a traditional foods pantry, provide step-by-step kitchen techniques and showcase over 75 mouthwatering recipes. The following excerpt from “Cheers” is for a continuous brew kombucha will make sure you never run out this mood-enhancing, digestive aid.

Purchase this book from the GRIT store: Back to Butter.

This recipe is the one and only time you’ll find evaporated cane sugar, a close cousin to refined white sugar, in our book. But the good news is that you won’t be consuming it — your kombucha will! Kombucha, a traditional fermented beverage, has gained popularity in the last four years for its digestive and mood-enhancing benefits. Usually, this tea is made in single batches that take between 10 days to 3 weeks to brew, which forces the cook to clean everything out and start over each time. Below, we teach you how to maintain a continuous brew, which is decanted halfway every 7 days and refilled without ever (or very rarely) having to clean out the vessel. Note that you’ll need a 2-1/2-gallon (9.5 L) porcelain vessel with a plastic spigot and loose-leaf tea, for this recipe.

Inspired by Hannah Crum and Monica Ford

Continuous Brew Kombucha Recipe


For starter batch:
• 8 cups (1880 ml) water
• 8 tablespoons (64 g) loose black (or green) tea
• 2 cups (400 g) evaporated cane sugar (see Recipe Notes)
• 5-1/2 quarts (5.2 L) cold water
• 2 cups (470 ml) plain kombucha
• 1 kombucha SCOBY

To make a refill batch:
• 4 cups (940 ml) water
• 4 tablespoons (32 g) loose black (or green) tea
• 1 cup (200 g) evaporated cane sugar
• 3 quarts (2.7 L) cold water


1. Find a location in your home that is away from direct sunlight and stays at a consistent temperature of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius), if possible. This is where you’ll set up your 2-1/2-gallon (9.5 L) porcelain vessel of kombucha to brew.

To make the starter batch:
1. Bring the 8 cups (1880 ml) water to a boil in a large-size pot, then add the loose tea equivalent. Allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes, then strain into a very large-size ceramic bowl. 

2. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the cold water and stir. The mixture should be room temperature at this point. 

3. Add the plain kombucha and stir again. Carefully pour the tea into the large-size porcelain vessel.

4. Using clean hands, place the SCOBY on top of the tea. Cover with a tea towel and secure with a rubber band, in order to keep fruit flies out.

5. Allow to sit for 1 week (away from other food that may attract fruit flies). Taste the tea. The ideal taste is only lightly sweet with a bit of tang but not overly vinegary. Keep tasting daily until the desired taste is achieved.

6. When the tea is to your liking, use the spigot to funnel half (1 gallon, or 3.8 L) into swing-top bottles or glass jars with tight-fitting lids and refrigerate. Brew a refill batch as follows to replace bottled tea.

To make refill batch:
1. Bring the 4 cups (940 ml) water to a boil, then add the teabags or loose tea equivalent. Allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes, then strain into a large-size ceramic bowl.

2. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the cold water, then pour into your existing vessel of kombucha, replenishing the tea that was bottled.

3. Allow the mixture to brew for 1 week before tasting. If not ready, continue to taste the tea daily until the desired taste is achieved. Continue to bottle and refill weekly, following the above instructions.

To clean the vessel: 
1. Every 4 months, the vessel should be thoroughly cleaned. To do so, first remove the SCOBY and place it on a sheet tray. The SCOBY grows in layers during the 4 months of continuous brew. Discard, compost, or give away several of the bottom layers, which will be darker in color. A knife may be needed to separate the layers. You can also cut the SCOBY down to size if it has outgrown its jug. After trimming the SCOBY, place it in a bowl. Remove 2 cups (470 ml) of the kombucha and place in the bowl with the SCOBY.

2. Use the spigot to funnel and bottle all but the final 1 inch (2.5 cm) of liquid; this brownish, yeast-filled portion should be discarded in order to start fresh with a new population of yeast. (Because the spigot of most vessels is located at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the bottom of the vessel, it should not draw out the bottom settlement.)

3. Using a clean sponge and water, scrub the jug and spigot clean. Unscrew the spigot for a thorough cleaning. Scrub once more using distilled vinegar and rinse well.

4. With a clean vessel, a trimmed SCOBY, and 2 cups (470 ml) of reserved plain kombucha, restart the continuous brew process as outlined above.

Recipe Notes

• SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.
• Be sure to consume the refrigerated kombucha within 1 month to prevent exploding bottles. If you’d like to keep it longer, simply store the kombucha in plastic containers instead.
• To create fizz in kombucha, add approximately 1 cup (235 ml) 100 percent fruit juice of choice to a clean, 2-liter plastic soda bottle. (The reason for plastic rather than glass is that in case of excess carbonation, the plastic will expand while the glass could crack.) Using a long wooden spoon, carefully peel the SCOBY away from one side of the jug and stir the kombucha to mix in the brownish yeast that lies at the bottom of the vessel; this yeast is the catalyst for the carbonation. Funnel brewed kombucha, plus any brown yeasty strands, into the 2-liter bottle, filling the bottle up to the tippy top. Screw on the cap tightly and set at room temperature for several days, until the plastic is taut and unyielding to the pressure of a squeeze, which indicates that gasses have built up in the bottle. At this point, refrigerate until consumption. And open carefully!
• Evaporated cane sugar, found in most grocery stores, carries a refinement that falls somewhere between white sugar, which is devoid of all minerals, and Sucanat, where the minerals are left untouched, leaving the rich brown color of the molasses intact. Evaporated cane sugar (or juice) contains only a very small amount of minerals and is light tan in color.

More from Back to Butter:

How to Soak and Cook Beans
Homemade Hummus Recipe
Raw Chopped Salad Recipe
• How to Make Cream Cheese and Whey
Picnic Potato Salad Recipe
Fermented Sweet Pickle Relish Recipe
Simply Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook—Nourishing Recipes Inspired by Our Ancestors by Molly Chester and Sandy Schrecengost and published by Fair Winds Press, 2014. Purchase this book from our store: Back to Butter.