You have a few different options here. Your kombucha may be ready to bottle in as little as five days after brewing it up with the scoby. You can allow it to sit for longer than that, though, and I’ve been told the health benefits increase once it begins to sour (it smells like vinegar when this happens). I have bottled it at both points and can’t really tell a difference either way.
Here’s what you need once you’re ready to bottle up your kombucha:
Fruit juice (preferably freshly-squeezed), optional
Bottles with air-tight lids (I use old store-bought kombucha bottles. There are 164 oz in a gallon, so divide that by how many ounces are in each bottle and that’s how many bottles you’ll need.)
You can pour a little fruit juice in the bottom of each bottle, or you can skip the juice for “plain” flavored kombucha. Using the funnel, pour your tea from your gallon jar into each of your bottles. Make sure you leave some in the jar (about 10 oz should do). Secure the lids and place the bottles in a place out of direct sunlight. Depending on the temperature of your home, the kombucha should be ready for drinking in two days (that’s how long it takes mine). If you let them sit too long, they will likely build up too much carbonation. If they don’t sit long enough, they won’t build up enough carbonation. It’s really trial and error, and it took me a couple of batches to get really good kombucha.
An early batch I made. You can bottle your kombucha in anything that has an air-tight lid!
Our favorite so far is with freshly juiced, organic strawberry juice. It makes some really yummy kombucha! Everytime I open a bottle for myself, I turn around and my kids have swiped it and polished it off!
A few things to note:
What you add to flavor your kombucha is actually pretty important. For my first batch, I used whatever fruit I had lying around that was about to go bad, not wanting to waste it. This made for some funky-tasting kombucha.
If you don’t have a strong, thick scoby, your kombucha probably won’t build any carbonation and the batch will be a bust. Wait until the scoby is mature or you will be disappointed!
Once you have poured up your tea, brew another gallon of tea and replenish your kombucha in the jar with the scoby (let the tea cool before pouring it in the jar with the scoby; I usually brew it in the evening and let it cool overnight before pouring it in the jar). Pour carefully so as not to damage the scoby already in the jar! Your next batch will be ready to bottle in another 5-30 days!
You will notice your scoby will get very thick and layers may begin to peel off. This is your scoby having “babies.” You can peel off the layers and share them with friends so they can brew their own kombucha without having to grow a scoby from scratch!
My kids enjoying their kombucha.