How to Make Kombucha Fizzy: Plus a Kombucha Recipe for Delicious Pineapple & Clove Kombucha
When I started making kombucha, I was all about just basic good old first ferment kombucha. That's it. I wasn't interested in too many flavors, and what I really wanted was the benefits of different herbs in the teas. More on that later. But then I realized, after trying my friends' kombucha, that mine wasn't fizzy! It was really quite flat. "What's the deal?" I wondered. "What makes kombucha fizzy?"
I started doing research on fizzy kombucha. How did the masters get that delicious carbonation? There are many factors that affect your ferments, such as heat, humidity, the health of the SCOBY (find out more about SCOBYs, including what's in them, here), the kind of tea you are using, AND whether or not you choose to do a second ferment or not.
That last factor is the most important factor, in my opinion and experience, for getting that delicious fizz in your kombucha. It is the second fermentation process. This is where you add your fruits and spices for flavors!
This is where you remove the SCOBY, add your sweet fruits, and let the live cultures that remain in the kombucha tea from the first ferment do their thing! They make that kombucha tea a fizzy, happy party in your mouth!
Here's how to go about making your kombucha fizzy and carbonated, along with my latest Pineapple-Clove kombucha recipe. Yum!
**You may be interested in reading How to Make Herbal Kombucha, which provides a good foundation about kombucha in general.
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How to Naturally Carbonate Your Kombucha Tea AND How to Make Pineapple-Clove Kombucha
I use two separate fermentation processes to get that great carbonation going on in my kombuchas. Here's how I get a nice fizzy kombucha tea starting from the very first step.
NOTE: I used fresh pineapple chunks and cloves in this recipe. How on earth did I think up that combination, you wonder?
Well, I asked Mr. V., of course! I said to him, "What spices go with Pineapple?"
He replied quickly, "Cloves!"
I asked him, "Great idea! But what made you think of cloves?"
"Ham," he replied. "You use cloves with Pineapple on ham." OMGosh! I had to laugh out loud. Who would have thought of ham in relation to kombucha? Anyway.....It worked GREAT! (Or, I wouldn't be sharing this with you. ;-)
What You Will Need to Make Fizzy Kombucha
1) Organic black tea (or any variety of Camellia sinensis tea) Here's an article you may enjoy about Camellia sinensis teas.
2) Filtered water (or just be sure it's not chlorinated--I just use the well water from our tap.)
3) Organic cane sugar, 1 cup per gallon of tea (or 1/2 cup per half-gallon tea)
4) 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into approximate 1 inch chunks
5) 2 tsp whole cloves, more or less to taste.
6) a Coffee filter, cheesecloth, or paper towel
7) a Rubber band (I just moved to a new homestead and couldn't find my rubber bands---I ended up using a hair tie)
9) A healthy SCOBY
10) 1/2 cup kombucha from a previous batch or from a raw kombucha from the store
The First Ferment of Kombucha
The first ferment is the foundation and basis for how your kombucha will turn out. You'll need to use a fermented tea, and that's why the most common tea for your kombucha will be a variety of Camellia sinensis (Black tea, Green tea, Oolong tea, or White tea). Here's how to create your first Kombucha ferment:
Step 1) Make a very strong Black tea.
I used three tea bags of Organic Black tea to a half gallon (or 5-6 bags to a gallon jar) of just boiled water. I let it steep for several hours in a half gallon Mason jar until it was completely cooled down.
Step 2) Add sugar.
If you are using a gallon jar, add 1 cup of organic cane sugar. If you are using a half gallon jar, only use 1/2 cup of organic cane sugar. Stir well til the sugar is dissolved.
Step 3) Add starter
Your starter for making kombucha will be about 1/2 cup or so of raw kombucha. This can come from a previous batch, or if you are starting fresh, from a raw bottle of kombucha from the store. It just helps it get going. If you don't have any, your kombucha will still ferment, but it will just take a bit longer.
Step 4) Place your SCOBY in the mixture.
Where do you get a SCOBY? Well, you can get one from a friend, like I did. If you don't have any friends who have a SCOBY on hand (because let's face it: Not everyone does this crazy fermentation thing), then you can actually buy them.
I've seen SCOBY's sold on etsy, or you can purchase them from a reputable source. My favorite place to get a fresh SCOBY is Kombucha Kamp. These are not dehydrated and are excellent quality. I highly recommend this company for exceptional starters for any fermentation need.
Step 5) Cover the jar.
Don't use a lid! Your kombucha needs air to ferment, so just cover with a breathable cotton cloth, a paper towel, a coffee filter, etc. and secure with a rubber band. I've used all of these, and they all work just fine.
Step 6) Ferment for a few days.
Place your jar in a quiet corner, and let the SCOBY do its thing on the sugar and tea. You'll see it gradually float to the top of the jar, and that's just fine and normal. You'll also notice brown strings hanging from the bottom of your SCOBY after a few days. This is normal too! You may see some bubbles, but if you don't, that's ok.
How long should you ferment your kombucha on the first ferment?
It depends. I know that's not the greatest answer, but it does really depend on a few things. Do you like a sweeter or more sour kombucha? How warm is your home? How was the quality of the tea and SCOBY you used?
My best advice is to know that kombucha generally takes anywhere from four days on the very short side to up to 10 days on the longer side. I recommend giving your kombucha a little taste test as the days go by, and when it's where you like it, your first ferment is over.
Kombucha will ferment faster in a warm environment; more slowly in a cool environment. I let this particular first ferment go for six days, and it was where I wanted it. I try to stay on the taste testing because once it turns a bit sour, there is no going back. You don't want vinegar, after all.
Step 7) Remove the SCOBY
You can put your SCOBY in a SCOBY Hotel (a jar that houses extra SCOBYs along with kombucha liquid) or go ahead and start a new batch with it.
If you take it out with your hands like I do, be SURE to wash and rinse your hands really well before touching your SCOBY.
You can drink your kombucha now if you want to. It's just fine. But chances are, it may just be a little bit flat. That's ok! Some folks like it flat. I'm one of them, actually. But I DO love a fruity kombucha....So here is how to make your kombucha both flavorful AND fizzy---Coming up next:
How to Do a Second Kombucha Ferment to Get the Fizz and Flavor
OK. Your kombucha tea is just fine to drink after the first ferment. But maybe you want a little extra fruit flavor? Or may you love the fizzy carbonation, kind of like a great soda? Well, here's how to make your kombucha super tasty and extra fizzy---a second ferment.
Step 8) Add the fruit & spices
So, your SCOBY is now gone, and you are left with a probiotic kombucha. Now's the time to add your fruit and any spices you want to try. I went ahead and used about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of pineapple chunks (fresh) and about 2 tsp whole cloves.
It's likely your fruit will remain on top or float to the top in a day or so. That's just fine! After one day, you should start seeing bubbles forming at the top. After two days, you'll see more. I sometimes go as long as three days on a second ferment.
I generally do not allow the second ferment to go longer than about three days at most because there is a chance of mold forming. You don't want that.
Step 9) Remove the fruit & spices
When it's fizzing away, it's ready! Just remove the fruit and spices. I use a strainer and pour the secondly fermented kombucha into a clean jar.
This is where you put a good lid on it and refrigerate. It will continue to ferment very slowly in the fridge, so be watchful of any bulging on the lid you use. You may need to "burp" it (open the lid to release gases) once in awhile.
Enjoy! Your kombucha will last several weeks in the refrigerator, but honestly. Ours never lasts that long! :-)
Final Thoughts on Making Kombucha Fizzy and Flavorful
I love kombucha. I love to make it too. It's a really creative process, and makes for some terrific science experiments in your kitchen.
And don't worry about those people who stop by and ask about the "placenta" floating on your countertop. Don't worry at all. Because YOU know you're creating one of the healthiest drinks on the planet!
Note: You may also enjoy these related fermentation articles: How to Make Your Own Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (Better than Bragg's) and How to Make a Delicious Fermented Berry Soda.
Do you make kombucha, or do you have any questions about it? Go ahead and leave comments in the comments section--- :-)
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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