I called a friend one time while making kombucha to help the time go by faster and without knowing it threw about 10 bags of tea in. I know that’s not the right amount of tea bags for a gallon of kombucha, but I got lost in what I was doing. The moment I tasted it my face puckered up like I bit into an orange peel.
The right amount of tea bags to use for 1 gallon of kombucha is 6-8, but other factors affect how many you end up adding. If your tea has more caffeine it will require fewer bags overall to get the same flavor profile.
So, are you ready to understand what changes the amount of tea bags you need to add to your kombucha? Also, learn what happens to your kombucha if too many or too few tea bags are added.
What Are the Other Factors That Affect How Many Tea Bags You Use?
More factors affect the taste when brewing kombucha at home than there are ingredients in your recipe. How many tea bags you add will depend on several conditions, all of which have a significant effect on the taste of your finished kombucha tea.
I keep a few other considerations in mind when determining how many tea bags I’ll use in a kombucha batch. I’ve noticed there are a lot of natural variations that can affect how it tastes. Let’s take a closer look at these factors and how they impact the final product.
Size of Your Batch
You’ll naturally need more loose-leaf tea bags if you want to make a larger batch. Since you need 6-8 bags of tea for every gallon jar of kombucha, making larger sizes just takes a little math to figure out.
If you are making 2 gallons of kombucha, you’d add 12-16 bags of tea. If you were making 3 gallons, it would take 18-24 bags of tea to get the same flavor.
Type of Tea Used
Teas range wildly in their strength and potency, even within types like black tea, green tea, and oolong tea. Depending on which tea you use, your brew may need more or fewer bags to get the same flavor you’re used to.
I typically mix up my teas with green and black, so I find 7 or 8 tea bags are best because the green is fairly light. When you’re just starting, I recommend creating a spreadsheet to track your recipes to get the perfect combination.
How Long You Ferment
Since tea is added during the first phase of fermentation, the length of fermentation time will alter how many tea bags you add.
The more tea bags you add during this phase will give your kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) more nutrients to absorb. The fermentation process will be sped up leading to a more acidic homemade kombucha brew.
Temperature of Your Brew
Kombuchas at a higher temperature will tend to infuse the tea faster and more completely, leaving you with a strong tea base. It gives a great flavor but you can run the risk of leaving your brew too hot and it over-extracts the tea and leads to a bitter brew.
I use a temperature gauge to make sure my kombucha is resting at somewhere between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit (24-28 degrees Celsius). I found this lets the fermentation process do its thing without leading to an overly strong batch. Messing up the temperature will also affect how long your kombucha lasts.
My love for kombucha really blossomed when I felt confident enough to start exploring different flavor profiles and ingredients. When you get the hang of brewing a few times, you can adjust to more or less tea bags to see what taste you prefer on the next batch.
I recommend mixing up only one or two parts of your recipe at a time. If you change too many things at once, you won’t have a clear idea of what should stay the same and what needs to be adjusted.
What Happens When You Use Too Many Tea Bags
Anytime I’ve gotten a little too tea-bag-happy with my kombucha, I’ve ended up with some particularly strong brews. Caffeine and a bold, bitter flavor are the usual unwanted side effects that happen when I’ve used one too many bags.
Too Much Caffeine
You might think that more caffeine would just give your SCOBY a little extra pep in its step, but it’s not quite that simple. Your SCOBY needs the right environment to thrive and too much caffeine over-stimulates the yeast, leading to bad flavors or poor fermentation. Having too much caffeine can ruin some of the better side effects of kombucha like reducing acid reflux.
I’ve actually ruined SCOBYs before by adding too much caffeine to my recipe. It throws off the entire bacteria and yeast balance. Your SCOBY will have an extra pep in its step, too. You’ll be bouncing off the walls if you aren’t used to a ton of caffeine every day.
I’m different from most beginning kombucha drinkers in that I actually love a bold-flavored brew, but even I can admit, that there’s a line in there somewhere. I make homemade kombucha a little on the strong side and add one or two more tea bags than what people recommend.
There’s a stronger bitter flavor to the batch of kombucha, which actually balances out the sweet tea kombucha recipes I’ve tried. A sweet berry-flavored kombucha will do well with some bitter balance.
What Happens When You Use Too Few Tea Bags
I’ve noticed that when my batch doesn’t have as many tea bags as it should have, it’s usually because I’m combining tea types or using teas with smaller concentrations of caffeine.
Below is a red flag that you’ve used too few tea bags and there along with some adjustments you’ll want to make to the fermentation process.
Weak Brew Strength
When in doubt, I always say “Give it a taste!” A few drops on my tongue are usually all I need to know if my batch is weaker than normal.
A kombucha that doesn’t have enough tea bags will be a little too sweet and not have as much depth to its flavor. Because the tea is what gives kombucha its characteristic taste, this can leave you with a flat-tasting brew. I bought kombucha from a brand that intentionally lowers the caffeine content so the kombucha was weak but also better for your body.
Long Fermentation Times
What continues to surprise and shock me is how wild it is to constantly take care of and grow a SCOBY. You are basically feeding a living organism nutrients in order for it to continue to grow.
So, when you don’t give it any nutrients, your SCOBY isn’t going to be healthy enough to create the best kombucha taste you’d get from store-bought kombucha. Fewer tea bags mean it’s going to take a lot longer for your kombucha to ferment.
Using the Perfect Amount of Tea Bags in Kombucha
There are tons of factors that affect exactly how many tea bags you end up using for the process of making kombucha. I’m a big fan of using 7-8 bags because I prefer a little stronger brew but it really depends on your personal preference. Once you experiment a few times, you’ll start to craft a kombucha that has just the right amount of bitter and bold flavors you love.