Answered: All Your Questions About Bottling & Storing Kombucha

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After you have brewed kombucha in the fermentation vessel (also called a brewing jar), it is time to put it into bottles for flavoring and storing.

In this phase of kombucha brewing (often called F2), the kombucha will become carbonated. You will also add flavoring ingredients to the bottles.

Below are answers to the most common questions about bottling and storing brewed kombucha.

Can I store kombucha in plastic bottles?
Once kombucha has been brewed, it needs to be properly stored for flavor and safety. Kombucha should be kept in the refrigerator so that it stays cold and handy to drink. Most folks also flavor their kombucha in the bottle. This is referred to as secondary fermentation or F2.

You can store your kombucha in any container that has a tight lid so that gas doesn’t leak out which would let the fizz escape. You can store kombucha in plastic, but strong glass is a better choice.

As the kombucha continues to ferment in the bottle, the pressure will deform most plastic bottles. Also, plastic bottles contain chemicals that could leach out of the bottle into the kombucha.

Read more about choosing the best bottles for storing kombucha.

What are the best bottles for storing kombucha?
The best bottles for storing kombucha should be strong enough to contain the pressure that the fermenting kombucha produces. Remember that kombucha continues to ferment in the bottle although at a slow rate in the refrigerator.

A tight lid is essential so that the carbonation doesn’t escape. The best kombucha bottles should also be easy to clean so that you can use them again and again for storing kombucha.

You can store kombucha in plastic bottles if you must. Be aware that plastic bottles may contain chemicals that the kombucha can leach out into your brew. Plastic bottles may also bulge and even crack from the pressure the kombucha produces as it continues to ferment.

Read more about the best way to store kombucha

How long can I store kombucha?
Once kombucha is finished brewing, it is ready to be cooled in the refrigerator and ready to drink. Most folks however make a kombucha recipe by adding flavoring ingredients to the bottle in a secondary fermentation (F2). Usually, the F2 takes a few days.

After a few days, the kombucha has built up the right amount of carbonation and it is time to cool it in the refrigerator so it is ready to drink. Kombucha home brewers typically store their kombucha in the refrigerator for a few weeks, up to a month, or possibly, a bit longer.

It is important to note, that although refrigeration slows down the fermentation of the kombucha, it does not stop it entirely. So, over time, the kombucha will become less sweet and the carbonation will increase.

As long as the pressure in the bottle does not cause it to leak, you can store kombucha in the refrigerator indefinitely. As explained, it’s flavor will change over time.

If you don’t refrigerate your brewed kombucha, it will continue to ferment in the bottle at a rapid rate. It will become increasingly carbonated. If you are storing your kombucha in very strong bottles, it is likely to eventually leak out of the top.

If your bottles are not made of strong glass, they could explode! That is why it is best to store brewed kombucha in the fridge!

Must Kombucha be stored in the refrigerator?
Kombucha that you purchase in the store is always found in the refrigerated section, and for good reason. Although refrigeration slows down the fermentation of kombucha, it does not stop it entirely.

Kombucha that is brewed commercially is often filtered. Depending on the brewer, other processes are also used so that the kombucha does not continue to ferment in the bottle. Commercial brewers want their kombucha to be as shelf stable as possible. Nevertheless, kombucha should be kept in the refrigerator whenever possible.

When kombucha is brewed at home, it must be kept refrigerated. In the process of transferring the kombucha from the fermenter to the bottles, most of the active components of the SCOBY (the symbiotic organism that transforms tea and sugar into the kombucha beverage) are still present in the brew.

At room temperatures, home brewed kombucha will continue to ferment in the bottle at a rapid rate. It will become increasingly carbonated. Unless you are storing your kombucha in very strong bottles, they could explode! That is why it is best to store home brewed kombucha in the fridge!

Will kombucha carbonate in the fridge?
To home brew kombucha, we employ a symbiotic organism called a SCOBY. The SCOBY is composed of bacteria and yeast and is responsible for transforming the mixture of tea and sugar into the beverage that we call kombucha.

It is the action of the yeast converting sugars into CO₂ that creates the carbonation (fizziness) in kombucha. This process proceeds at all temperatures, but is very slow at refrigerator temperatures. To carbonate kombucha at room temperature takes only a few days, if there are some sugars present in the bottle.

The amount of sugar in home brewed kombucha depends on how long the fermentation was allowed to proceed. If the kombucha is very sour, there may not be much sugar left in the brewed kombucha. Adding more sugar in the form of fruit, fruit juice, sweet vegetables, or sugar itself, is the best way to create carbonation.

Although this can be accomplished in the fridge, it proceeds at a much faster pace at warmer temperatures.

Does kombucha stored in the refrigerator continue to ferment?
Once you decide that your kombucha is brewed to your liking, it is time to store it in bottles for drinking. Depending on the size of your brewing jar, there are a few ways to handle that task. One of the best ways is with an auto-siphon.

Read: Bottle Your Kombucha the Easy Way With an Auto-Siphon to learn more about using an auto-siphon to transfer your home brewed kombucha.

The kombucha that you transfer into bottles still has the active components of the SCOBY in it. That means that the kombucha will continue to ferment. At the low temperature of a refrigerator, the fermentation process will be slow, but it will not stop completely. As the residual sugar is digested by the bacteria and yeast, the kombucha will become less sweet as well as more fizzy.

When is kombucha ready to drink?
In the process of home brewing kombucha, a symbiotic organism called a SCOBY transforms a mixture of tea and sugar into kombucha. The basic kombucha recipe can be found here: The Basic Kombucha Brewing Recipe.

Over the course of several days to a few weeks (depending largely on the temperature of the brewing environment), the brewing kombucha becomes less sweet as the sugar is digested by the SCOBY. At the same time, the brewing process adds many other compounds to the brew, which produces unique flavors.

Home brewed kombucha is ready to drink when the pH is between 2.5—3.5. In the normal pH range, kombucha should taste tangy and slightly sour, but also have a hint of sweetness. It is up to the kombucha brewer to determine when the kombucha tastes ready to bottle. Some people like their kombucha to be more tart (at the lower end of the pH range) and some less so.

As a home brewer, it is important to taste the kombucha each day as it nears completion and be ready to transfer it to bottles when it tastes the way you want it to. Putting it in the refrigerator greatly slows down the fermentation process and maintains the flavor for at least a few weeks.

How Long Does Kombucha Last After Bottling?
Home brewed kombucha continues to ferment after bottling. Storing it in the refrigerator will slow down the fermentation process and help it maintain its flavor and carbonation for weeks or even months. During that period, it’s flavor will change in subtle ways—it will likely become more tart as the sugar in the brew continues to be digested. Carbonation will increase for the same reason.

You can filter the kombucha, removing as much yeast as possible, after the second fermentation to further slow down the fermentation process.

Will Kombucha go bad if not refrigerated?
Store bought kombucha is always found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, so you should keep it refrigerated when you get it home. Commercially brewed kombucha is often filtered or stabilized to keep it as fresh as possible in the fridge and so it does not continue to ferment much in the bottle. Even so, leaving it at room temperature is not a good idea and the flavor and carbonation will eventually be affected.

When we brew kombucha at home, it must be kept refrigerated. In the process of transferring the kombucha from the fermenter to the bottles, most of the active components of the SCOBY (the symbiotic organism that transforms tea and sugar into the kombucha beverage) are still present in the brew in small amounts.

In not refrigerated or kept at about forty degrees, home brewed kombucha will continue to ferment in the bottle. It will become increasingly carbonated and pressure inside the bottle will increase. Unless you are storing your kombucha in very strong bottles, they could explode! Even if the kombucha stays in the bottle, it will taste less sweet as the SCOBY continues to digest the sugar and become overly carbonated.

How long will kombucha keep once it is bottled?
Once your home brewed kombucha has been bottled and flavored, and tastes the way you like it, it is time to put it in the refrigerator to halt the fermentation process.

In the refrigerator, the kombucha will keep for weeks or even months. During that period of time, a small amount of fermentation will continue to proceed, depending on how much yeast and bacteria are present in the bottle.

We have discovered that some flavors improve with age (a month or two) in the fridge. Others seem to taste better when they are consumed within a week of bottling. Keeping careful notes, such as with the Kombucha Brewing Journal system, will enable you to drink your home brewed kombucha when it is at its tastiest.

Have a question about bottling or storing kombucha? Leave your question below.


  1. Shari Groneck

    When I started to ferment my new brew I accidently put the lid o the jar not a cloth. Didn’t realize until it was done fermenting and I put my flavors in it. I put the cloth on it for a day with the fruit/flavors. Is it still good?

    • neilalan

      Hi Shari,
      Thank you for your comment. You will likely find us more responsive to questions on our Facebook page or in our Facebook group (you can find links to those in the sidebar of this site).
      You asked a good question and it gives me a chance to explain a few things. We use a cloth on the top of the jar in fermentation one because the SCOBY needs air to breathe. If you close the jar with a cap, the SCOBY might not get enough air and not be able to ferment the brew. We use a cap in fermentation two (the flavoring process) once the SCOBY is no longer in the jar and so air is not required. Also, the cap holds in the fizz that the starter left in the bottled kombucha creates to carbonates the brew. If you use a cloth in F2, there would be no fizziness to the finished kombucha.
      Whether your brew is still good is easy to tell. The best way to tell if F1 is completed is to taste it. It should taste slightly tart. If it tastes sweet, then the fermentation is not done. If you’ve already added some flavoring, you can still taste it to see if it tastes like kombucha. If it does, cap it and let it carbonate at room temperature for a day or so.
      If it tastes too sweet, you have probably flavored it before it was done fermenting. In that case you would probably have to start over. We generally don’t try to ferment kombucha with the flavoring already in it.
      Good luck and keep on brewing.

  2. Stephanie Heacox

    I’m on my second batch of kombucha, and it’s been going remarkably well (thanks for the advice), but I have a pretty basic question about bottling: do I need to? Could I just store the kombucha in my 1.5 gallon glass dispenser, which fits nicely in my fridge, and just pour what I want, when I want? Or are the smaller containers important?

    Thanks for the continuing wisdom!

    • neilalan

      Hi Stephanie. Good question! You can certainly do as you say, but you’d want to remove the SCOBY first. If the batch of kombucha is finished brewing, leaving the SCOBY in it would keep it brewing past the point where it is just sour enough. The other thing that small, sealed bottles do is keep the carbonation in. Every time you open your large dispenser, you will lose the gas and your kombucha would not be fizzy. Some folks are fine with flat kombucha–it is a matter of taste. And of course, if you use your brewer to store your kombucha, you can’t be brewing another batch until you’ve drank it all. Alternately, you could save some nice jars (like peanut butter jars) and store your kombucha in those. Again, your kombucha would probably not retain much carbonation, but if you don’t want to purchase bottles, that would be a free way to store kombucha. Happy brewing!

  3. JohnL

    Can I use honey instead of sugar to sweeten it?

    • neilalan

      You can use honey in the second fermentation phase (F2) in the bottle if you think that your kombucha is too sour. The first fermentation requires cane sugar. The SCOBY that brews kombucha cannot digest the honey. There is a drink created by fermenting green tea and honey called Jun. You can read about it here: How to make Jun Tea

  4. neilalan

    Hi and thanks for your great question. Once fermentation is complete, the liquid in the jar contains the brew, the SCOBY, and some strands of yeast. You definitely want to remove the SCOBY of course. You can filter out the strands of yeast when you pour it into the bottles for fermentation two (F2) if they bother you. What we do instead is to use a fine strainer (the kind that are designed to fit into sink drains) to filter out the yeast when we pour the kombucha into the glass to drink. It would not harm you to drink the little bit of yeast, but we don’t.

  5. Carmen

    What happens if I bottle and immediately store kombucha in refrigerator

    • neilalan

      Hi Carmen,
      Thanks for your question. If kombucha is bottled and immediately stored in the refrigerator, it will not develop carbonation (at least not for a very long time). It is the few extra days of fermentation under pressure that carbonates it. Champagne is made with the same process, btw. If you don’t care about having bubbles in your kombucha, then you can refrigerate it immediately after bottling.


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