Continuous Brew Kombucha Update

You might remember my telling of the two 3 gallon tea container of kombucha fermenting on the top of my refrigerator. Remember, kombucha is a slightly carbonated drink made from sweet tea. It is full of probiotics, B vitamins and enzymes plus making it at home is economical. Everyone is excited to have enough kombucha to drink it daily. John drains each dispenser from the spout into a 5 gallon keg and we have it on tap in the kegerator. The children think it is wonderful to be able to help themselves! This method is called a continuous brew system – it works great and allows the microorganism to remain undisturbed while starting the next batch.

I knew the tops were not tight fitting which is good because the scoby needs air circulation. What I did not realize, however, is that as the tea fermented the tops popped up allowing critters in! Awful isn’t it? We had fruit flies invading and contaminating the scoby. Not to gross you out, but, I had maggots on the scoby – yuck!!!

Fortunately, the scoby (which you can find from my affiliate here) forms in layers. The older the scoby, the thicker it is. I was able to peel the top layer off without harming the scoby and begin a fresh batch.

I had already been looking for larger containers because we have been running out of kombucha before the next batch was ready. I was able to find 4.75 gallon glass beverage dispensers at Sam’s Club – I bought two of them! They came with wrought iron stands and glass tops which I boxed up and have in storage. To solve the air circulation problem but still keep critters out, I covered each jar with a double layer of cheesecloth and secured it with a rubber band.

So far so good, and, I think they look much nicer!


This post is part of: Kombucha Challenge

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  1. says

    That’s a great idea to use cheesecloth! I don’t know that I would like the beverage, but if I did I know I wouldn’t want to find any critters in it!!

  2. KimH says

    So glad you were able to rescue your SCOBY! I have yet to try any kombucha but I think perhaps someday I’ll try my hand at it as well.

    The jars are gorgeous! Glad you could find something beautiful that works well for you.

  3. jamie says

    My mom recently introduced me to kombucha and I love it! She just started her second batch and she says she will be able to give me a scoby when it is done!!! She puts chia seeds in her kombucha! I really like the texture the seeds at to it!

  4. Carmel says

    I just discovered maggots on my scoby too. AAAAKKK!!! I don’t know if I can reuse the scoby if I take off the top layer. I’m so grossed out! How did your next batch turn out?

    • says

      Oh, Carmel – I agree – yuck! I was able to peel off the top layer – the chickens loved it! Then I rinsed the scoby left and the next batch turned out great! I have not had a problem since changing containers.

  5. Shawn says

    I have been using a continuous brew system for awhile. I am using a ceramic base, that is typically sold as a dispenser for the 5 gallon water jugs. It has a bit larger spigot, but I still find my spigot tends to get clogged. Do you find you need to drain and clean your vessel pretty regularly?

    • says

      Shawn, I have not had to drain and clean for about 6 months. My spigot is about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom of the container and I think this helps keep it from clogging.

  6. Elizabeth says

    It is better to cover your Kombucha vessel with a cloth towel or paper towel because fruit flies love Kombucha, and are able to go through cheese cloth.

  7. Shalonne says

    Hi, Is there somewhere to go to see the entire continuous brew method written it from start to finish that a beginner could follow? Thanks!

    • says

      I will be glad to answer any specific questions that you have but not sure where else you could find the info. Once you have your scoby, you add the sweet tea and allow it to ferment for 7 – 10 days depending upon the quantity and flavor you desire. Then, you can pull off enough to drink for a day, a week or the total amount and replace it with equal an amount of sweet tea to feed the scoby. Just be sure to leave about 20% of the tea from your last batch in the container as a starter.

  8. Minja says

    I am curious about the process of putting the kombucha into the kegs. Once you fill the keg, do you refrigerate it right away? Where do you buy the kegs at?
    Thanks for your help!

  9. Kim says

    Hi! I was wondering if when cleaning these glass containers do you have a problem getting the SCOBY out and back in since the opening is quite a bit smaller than the container? That is the difference that I have noticed in some of these glass containers. Also, was the spigot it came with plastic or did you have to replace it?
    Also, how do you handle the SCOBY? bare hands, gloves? type of gloves used?

    • says

      Kim, since I am using the continuous brew method, I have only removed the scoby once in the past 5 months and that was to separate it. Using my washed bare hands I slightly bent the scoby to get it out of the opening – it was not difficult. Those are the original spigots.

  10. Becky says

    I am currently on my second brew cycle of my 2.5 gallon kombucha continuous brew. This morning was day 5. I am very new at brewing kombucha.

    This morning I checked my brew and found a single fruit fly underneath my cloth covering my jar! I had it fastened with a piece of yarn tightly tied around a single layer of tightly woven cloth. I quickly shooed the flu out of the vessel. There was a new baby on the top with another baby just below it. My thick mother was chilling at the bottom Of the vessel. I pulled the top baby scoby off the top and composted it. I took out the next baby and put it in a separate jar with some kt in it and covered it for “observation”. I wiped down the mouth of the jar and the top edges. My tea was bubbly but not quite ready.

    I replaced the cloth on top of my brewing vessel with a new double layer tightly woven fabric and used a strong rubber band.

    Does anyone know if the mother in the bottom will be ok? There was only one fly and I didn’t see any eggs. It just looked like regular scoby.

    • says

      Becky, chances are, you caught it in time – I sure hope so. That has happened to me too so just keep checking to make sure there are no maggots in the scoby – they would be little, white and crawling around on the scoby. If you see any, I just separated the scoby and composted the top part with the maggots and the rest did great.
      My larger scoby is also floating at the bottom of my jar and seems fine.
      I hope this help!

      • Becky says

        So far things look good in my jar. Thanks for the reassurances and for this blog post it really gave me hope. I love in rural North Dakota where no ones heard of kombucha or brews it near me. Your brews look amazing!

  11. Marrona says

    I am so glad to see your post! Everything I was reading before was saying to toss the brew and scoby. I couldn’t bring myself to toss 2.5 gallons and three scobys. (I really need to make a scoby hotel) I bottled 2 gallons, peeled half of my scoby off to toss, rinsed the scoby with chlorinated water, and saved the two smaller scobys until I could do some research. I found the infestation at 11pm at night. Fortunately the Scoby was big enough that it sealed the vessel. My scoby was floating on air bubbles so I doubt they contaminated the smaller scobys underneath or the brew. I have no idea how they got underneath my cloth napkin and rubberband!

  12. Lucy says

    Hello Dina… I think I might start soon to brew my own Kombucha (as you suggested, I will get some from the supermarket first), but I do have a couple of questions: I have tried hard to stop drinking caffeine and / or dark drinks -kidney stones-. I am also trying to stay away from sugar due to yeast overgrowth. I know I’ll be o.k. with drinking at least 1 glass a day of kombucha, but would that little even be beneficial?. I also recently started making kefir and drink about 1 glass a day. I’ve also heard of coconut kefir, would that be any different / better than the kombucha for me, and would I need different grains than the ones I already have to make the coconut kefir?.. so many questions.. so sorry, but thanks for your answers.

    • says

      Lucy, no problem with questions! Any amount of kombucha that you drink will be beneficial! I have never made coconut kefir but from what I understand, you use the same grains but every few weeks you have to soak them in milk to recharge them – maybe another reader knows how long you can go in just coconut milk. Most people that do coconut kefir do it because they cannot tolerate milk at all. Here is my affiliate link for good scobies available from Kombucha Kamp – they ship live scobies ready to use not dehydrated!

  13. Fruit fly fan NOT says

    I also found larvae on top of my Scobee. I soaked Q-tips in brags apple cider vinegar and used them to remove the larvae. I have three batches of kombucha brewing. I’ve been monitoring the health of it daily. I can’t get myself to throw it out just yet. I am on day 10 of a new batch and it has been five days since I removed the larvae. I see from previous posts that I should separate the top Scobee and compost it or toss it to the chickens. Has anybody ever done what I’m doing? This is my fourth batch and so I’m still relatively new to this.

    How can a few maggots contaminate the Scobie?

    I had to use four layers of cheesecloth to prevent those crafty little fruit flies from finding their way inside.

  14. Meli says

    I have been brewing Kombucha tea for a long while now. I personally use large coffee filters over my both of my 2.88 gallon continuos brew containers with rubber bands holding them in place. I’ve never had any problems with bugs getting thru. You can just buy a package of the large coffee filters & use them. If the openings are really large they may not cover it but it has worked well for mine. I also use coffee filters over my Kefir & Sourdough Starters. Just make sure the rims on the containers are dry before you put the coffee filters on.


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