Sediment and SCOBYs: How to Strain Kombucha Successfully

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If you are like many people, the sediment that settles at the bottom of kombucha doesn't appeal to you. The good news is that these yeast particles can be strained from your homemade kombucha to make it more palatable. 

Do You Need to Strain Kombucha?

You do not have to strain kombucha if you don’t want to. Some home brewers choose to strain their kombucha simply by personal choice. They do it either for aesthetic purposes or because they dislike the gooey texture of the sediment in their drink.

The floating sediment is actually yeast and bacteria, which you can think of as a pre-SCOBY or what will grow into a baby SCOBY, if left undisturbed.

What Are the Benefits of Straining Kombucha?

Though the number one reason for straining your kombucha tea is to make it more appetizing for the consumer, there are also some benefits of removing those floating yeast particles before bottling.

A few of those benefits include:

  • Reducing the volatility of the brew: When you reduce the volatility of bottled kombucha, it is less likely to explode (slightly less carbonation) and more likely to have a pleasant taste.
  • Reducing the yeast in the second fermentation: Homebrewers usually ferment kombucha twice. Reducing the yeast in the 2nd fermentation process can increase consistency in the results and improve the taste of the batch.
  • Improving the texture and taste: Acidity is reduced, and the flavor is enhanced when you remove the baby SCOBY (yeast particles) from your kombucha. This can also make the drink more appealing because there won’t be any slimy sediment.
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Strained kombucha

Are There Any Disadvantages of Straining Kombucha?

While it isn’t detrimental, there are some reasons you may want to think twice before straining kombucha.

Some of those reasons are:

  • You will lose some carbonation. If you like a nice, fizzy kombucha, you may not want to strain the yeast, as it will add some fizz.
  • Baby SCOBYs are full of probiotics, so you will lose some good gut-healthy bacteria if you strain them out. Of course, some probiotics will still be present, but there will be more if you keep the sediment in your bottled kombucha.

Do You Strain Kombucha After the First or Second Fermentation?

There are several ways to strain kombucha, and they all depend on your personal preferences. The method you use will determine when to filter your kombucha. When making kombucha, there are usually two fermentation processes.

Some people use a large sieve to strain their kombucha after the first fermentation. This is a popular method because the kombucha will lose its carbonation when you strain it. However, it will regain some of its lost bubbles in the second fermentation.

Other brewers wait until after the second fermentation (when you flavor your kombucha) to strain the tea. This is because more sediment can form during the second fermentation. This guarantees that there will be no sediment, but it will also remove most of the carbon dioxide, aka fizz.

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Second fermentation

What Is the Best Way to Strain Kombucha?

There are a few different ways to strain kombucha using various tools. Some methods are better than others for certain circumstances.

Here are a few ways you can strain your homemade kombucha:

  1. Use a large sieve. As I mentioned, this process is best done before the second fermentation, as it will cause a loss of carbonation. To use this method, pour the raw kombucha through a large sieve over a bowl (big enough for the sieve and liquid). It will collect the sediment you wish to get rid of.
  2. Use a coffee filter or a small strainer. This method is better for after the second fermentation when you bottle your booch. Place the coffee filter over your glass bottle and pour the liquid through. It is important to note that the coffee filter may not fit snugly over the bottle, so you may need help filtering this way. This method is best for smaller batches of kombucha.
  3. Use a large funnel with a wide piece of mesh cloth. This is a method better suited for bigger batches of booch. Place the mesh over the container you want to use, then pour the kombucha through the funnel into the mesh. Because of the narrow end of the funnel, this method can be used with any container, whether a bottle or a glass jar. It can also be done at any time during the kombucha brewing process, as it won’t cause carbonation loss.

If, for some reason, you cannot strain your kombucha, there are ways to minimize the growth of baby SCOBYs throughout the fermentation process. The easiest way to do this is using store-bought fruit juice to flavor the kombucha because it is more refined, contains less pulp than fresh fruit, interacts less with the yeast, and doesn’t majorly change the tea’s texture.

This method is not highly recommended because fruit juice can limit fizziness, change the flavors, and/or cause the secondary fermentation to take much longer. If you want to enjoy kombucha without the sediment, straining it is the best way.

Store-bought kombucha is often sediment-free because larger-scale brewers use yeast inhibitors, and commercial kombucha brewers have unnatural ways of brewing kombucha without any sediment.

Can You Strain Kombucha With a Metal Strainer?

While it has been found that metal can react to the acidity in kombucha, the short amount of time it will be in contact with the metal does not typically warrant worry. However, check the material before using any old filter you find in your kitchen.

You will want to ensure you use a high-quality, stainless steel strainer, which is non-corrosive, making it suitable for acidic beverages like kombucha.

What to Do With the Sediment After Straining a Batch of Kombucha

The filtered kombucha sediments are mostly SCOBY babies, meaning you can use them in many of the same ways you use extra SCOBYs, including:

  • As an ingredient in smoothies
  • To nourish your garden
  • As pet treats
  • As healthy, delicious candies
  • To boost your compost pile’s nutrition
  • Give it to someone else who wants to brew their own kombucha

If You Don’t Strain Kombucha, Can You Drink the Sediment?

We know that kombucha has several health benefits associated with its consumption, and the sediment is no different, meaning that drinking the sediment is completely fine. The particles are made of bacteria that are great for your gut and general health.

However, if you do not feel comfortable drinking the sediment, you aren’t going to miss out on many of the benefits, as the finished kombucha, itself, harbors good bacteria as well.


Margaret has been drinking kombucha for its health benefits since 2010. Not only does she love drinking it, but she also enjoys brewing her own homemade booch. Her favorite combination so far is mint-strawberry, but she is always experimenting with new recipes.

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