There’s so many different ways to change the flavor of home brewed kombucha, but the easiest to get good carbonation and strong flavor in your kombucha is by using juice.
Juice can be used to flavor kombucha by combining the two in sealed glass brewing bottles and allowing them to ferment at room temperature for 4-8 days. To create a sweet flavor without overpowering the taste of the kombucha, use a portion of around 1/6 juice and 5/6 kombucha.
In this article I’ll walk you through how to flavor kombucha with juice, how much juice to use to flavor your kombucha, and give you some tasty kombucha juice flavoring ideas. Let’s get into it!
What is Kombucha
Kombucha is a probiotic drink made from fermented tea that has become quite popular in recent years due to its great taste and many health benefits such as improved digestion and gut health, detoxification, and immune system strengthening.
How Kombucha is Flavored
Flavoring kombucha is part of a process called 2nd fermentation. 2nd fermentation occurs, you guessed it, after the 1st fermentation.
At the beginning of the first fermentation, before any kombucha has been made, all we have is sweet tea. What turns this sweet tea into sweet and sour probiotic kombucha is a living culture of bacteria and yeast. This culture of bacteria, known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), eats the sugar and caffeine from the sweet tea and produces acids, carbon dioxide, and alcohol.
Once it has eaten enough sugar to make the kombucha bitter tasting, the SCOBY is removed and the 1st fermentation is complete. At this point we have kombucha and it can be drunk, but it's not carbonated or flavored yet.
The carbonation and flavoring is added in the 2nd fermentation. During this stage, the kombucha is sealed in glass bottles known as brewing bottles. Brewing bottles are bottles usually with a flip top that are made to seal air tight and hold in high pressures. They can be used to brew beer, kefir, kombucha, and other fermented drinks.
After the kombucha and some kind of flavoring, this could be fruit, herbs or in our case juice, are combined into these brewing bottles, they are set out at room temperature for 4-8 days to ferment. During this time the bacteria and yeast in the booch eat the sugar in the juice, producing carbon dioxide for carbonation and combining the added flavoring with the kombucha.
After the 4-8 days of 2nd fermentation, the kombucha has been carbonated and flavored and is then refrigerated and ready to be drunk!
How to Use Juice to Flavor Kombucha
Using juice to flavor kombucha is a fairly simple process. Pretty much any type of juice can be used, from apple to pineapple to mango, however the important thing is that the juice has sugar in it.
An artificially sweetened or sugar free juice may flavor the kombucha, but it won't infuse properly nor give the bacteria and yeast any sugar or food to use to create carbonation.
How Much Juice to Use to Flavor Your Kombucha
The most difficult part of flavoring kombucha with juice is deciding how much to use. You could just guess and use however much seems right, but if you use too much you’re kombucha will taste too sweet and be more like juice than booch. And if you use too little it won’t be sweet enough.
After spending 2-3 weeks waiting for the kombucha to be made, the last thing you want is to ruin your almost finished booch by using too little or too much flavoring.
So how much juice should you use to flavor your kombucha? Well because the fruit and sugar in fruit juice and fruit purees are so broken down and easily accessible for the bacteria and yeast in kombucha, you really don’t need that much. A little bit of juice can flavor and carbonate your booch just as much as a lot of pieces of fruit would.
In the 16oz brewing bottles that I use, I usually fill up the bottom of the bottle with around 1 inch of juice. This flavors the kombucha enough to make it tasty, but not too much where the juice is overpowering.
If you’re not using 16oz brewing bottles, I recommend making the amount of juice flavoring you use 1/6 of the kombucha. To figure this out, weigh the amount of kombucha you have and then divide that number by 6 to find how much flavoring you should use.
The amount of juice you use can depend a little on your personal preference. I like the bitter taste of kombucha so I use just enough flavoring to make it a little sweet, without overpowering kombucha’s natural bitter flavors.
But if you’re someone who doesn’t like the vinegary taste of kombucha, you can use more juice to sweeten it and hide the harsh sour flavors.
While when I first started brewing I measured out the amount of flavoring I used every time, after brewing kombucha many times I don’t need to measure out the flavoring I use anymore. Trial and error has allowed me to now just eyeball the amount of juice I use. I don’t get it perfect every time but it’s close enough where I don’t feel the need to measure and get it exactly right.
You probably won’t use the right amount of juice your first time, but after a few brews you’ll have it all figured out.
Kombucha Juice Flavoring Ideas
Now that you know how to use juice to flavor your kombucha, your next question may be: "what kinds of juice do I use?"
The fun part about making your own kombucha is that you can flavor it pretty much however you want. If there's a flavor of kombucha that you’ve always wanted to try but can’t find in stores, you can just make it yourself!
While I recommend you get creative and experiment with your own kombucha juice flavorings, a few flavor combos to try that I’ve really enjoyed in the past are:
Mango and Peach Juice
Pineapple Juice with Ginger
Lemon and Orange Juice
Strawberry Juice and Honey
Juice is a great and easy way to get good carbonation and flavor in your kombucha. It may take you a few tries to get the amount of juice you use right, but after some trial and error you’ll be making great tasting juice flavored kombucha without even thinking about it.
If you’d like to learn more about kombucha, kombucha flavorings, and other kombucha tips, be sure to check out the rest of my website!