Why isn’t my kombucha fizzy?

Is your kombucha not as fizzy as you would like? We’re walking through all the reasons your kombucha isn’t carbonated (and how to fix it)!

kombucha not fizzy

There’s nothing quite like the proud feeling of achievement when you crack open a bottle of fizzy homemade kombucha, all carbonated and bubbly and delicious. The flip side, of course, is when your kombucha isn’t fizzy and you start to wonder where you went wrong (in kombucha? in life?).

So for all the folks with a sad bottle of flat kombucha on your hands (we’ve all been there), this is your troubleshooting guide to help you achieve carbonated kombucha success!

fizzy kombucha bottle

What is carbonation?

Carbonation, put simply, is carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolved in a liquid. In kombucha, the yeasts in your brew eat the sugar and use it to produce alcohol and CO2.

In the first fermentation, the kombucha is covered only with a cloth, meaning the CO2 can escape and doesn’t stay in the liquid. That’s why we do a second fermentation, sealing the kombucha in airtight bottles and trapping the CO2 in the kombucha.

This method of carbonation is called natural carbonation. Another method is called forced carbonation, and this is when machines are used to artificially add carbonation to a drink. Drinks with forced carbonation include carbonated water, soda, and even most store bought kombucha.

While natural carbonation produces a soft feeling, with smaller bubbles and less tingle, forced carbonation is just the opposite. Forced carbonated drinks are usually sharp feeling, with large, uniform bubbles. This is an important distinction, in that you should not expect your home brewed kombucha to have the carbonated feeling of a soft drink.

With that said, you can make some seriously carbonated and fizzy kombucha. Here’s how!

pouring juice into kombucha bottles

How to carbonate kombucha

To carbonate kombucha, you’ll essentially just transfer your uncarbonated kombucha into airtight bottles, add something sweet as “food”, seal shut, then wait for the bacteria and yeasts to work their magic!

While some carbonation does occur in the first fermentation (the SCOBY can create a light seal, trapping a little fizz in the brew), most of it occurs in the second fermentation Read more about how to brew kombucha here.

kombucha in bottles with a mango

So why isn’t my kombucha fizzy?

This brings us to our question of the hour – why isn’t your kombucha fizzy? There are numerous reasons why your kombucha might not have carbonation:

1. You’re not using the right bottles.
You need to use fermentation grade bottles to brew kombucha, as these are specifically designed to not only trap air in, but withstand the pressure build up without exploding or leaking. These flip top bottles and these Grolsch beer style bottles are both great. For the best buch, avoid decorative bottles and mason jars.

2. You need to adjust your first fermentation time.
Your first fermentation needs to run long enough that there are plenty of bacteria and yeasts built up in the kombucha – these power the carbonation reaction. On the other hand, you should ensure your first fermentation isn’t going so long that your kombucha tastes sour/vinegary – there needs to be some sugar left for the yeast to feed on to help power the carbonation.

3. You’re not letting the second fermentation go long enough.
This one is simple; you may just need to let it (second) ferment longer! A typical second fermentation takes 3 to 10 days, but this could take more time depending on the sugar content and temperature of your house.

4. Your fermentation station is too cold.
Fermentation slows down dramatically when the environment is cold. Ensure your kombucha bottles are somewhere relatively warm (68-78°F). For the winter months, this might mean investing in kombucha heating pads, or finding a warm area in your house (e.g. above the fridge, by a heater, or in the laundry room). Read more on ideal kombucha temperatures here.

5. You’re leaving too much air in the bottles.
It’s important to leave some head space (empty space) at the top of the bottles before sealing, which will act as a buffer for the pressure (and in turn prevent explosions). With that said, if you leave too much head space, the CO2 simply stays in the air inside the bottle rather than going into the kombucha, resulting in less fizz. Aim for about 1 to 2 inches of head space (this entirely depends on the bottle shape and size, so you may need to adjust as you settle into a fermentation routine).

6. You’re not stirring the kombucha before bottling.
If you’re pouring the kombucha straight from the fermentation jug into the bottles (and especially if you’re using a spigot, like in continuous brewing), then the bacteria and yeast are not being evenly distributed into the bottles. Be sure to give your kombucha a stir before bottling so that every jar can be equally full of that live yeast and bacteria power! This also mixes oxygen into the kombucha, which helps to stimulate the process of carbonation.

7. You’re filtering the kombucha before bottling.
By all means, filter the gunk out of the kombucha after the second fermentation, but not before! You want to get all those brown stringy bits (the yeast!) into your second fermentation bottles as well. These will do wonders for the carbonation and fizz.

8. Your tea isn’t strong enough.
It could be that your first fermentation brew just isn’t strong enough. Either add a few more bags of tea, or let the tea steep for longer to infuse your brew with more “food” for the bacteria and yeast.

9. You’re not adding fruit or sugar.
Adding mashed fruits, juices, sugar, or honey not only add flavor, but they are instrumental in carbonating your kombucha. They act as “food” sparking the reaction that creates carbonation. (Pro tip: for maximum fizz, add ginger!) See our favorite kombucha flavors here!

10. You’re burping the bottles too much.
I get it, the idea of a bottle exploding is a little scary (and cleaning up the mess that results? even more so). But if you’re burping your bottles daily to avoid potential catastrophe, you may be doing a disservice to your carbonation. Try holding off on burping your second fermentation bottles for 2 or 3 days if you’re having issues with kombucha not carbonating. (Worried about explosions? Store them in a cooler to contain the potential mess!)

89 thoughts on “Why isn’t my kombucha fizzy?”

  1. These tips are great. I found a few things that may contribute to when my kombucha isn’t fizzy enough, and I appreciate your help for my future brewing! Your blog is very helpful, and I enjoy trying all the neat kombucha flavors.

    Reply
  2. I’m on my 3rd fermentation. Thank you for all your recipes and brewing info. You are such a delightful beautiful person. Thanks again

    Reply
  3. Having the opposite issue at the moment. Husband complained of not enough fizz now I have too much. Working on happy medium for the next brew 🙂

    Reply
    • Oh nice!! If you’re losing a lot of kombucha when it fizzes over, try opening the bottle with a bag over the top while sitting it in a bowl. You’ll catch all the kombucha and prevent it from spraying everywhere 😀

  4. Hello, I am a little confused on filtration. In the description of how to make kombucha, the second fermentation has straining with mesh strainer before bottling. However when going to this section to read about carbination it says to not strain before bottling. Can you help clarify?

    Reply
    • Thanks for pointing this out, Christa! I’ve changed this recommendation over time as I learned even more about brewing, and now recommend to not strain before the second fermentation, but to do it afterwards. We want to keep as much of that yeasty power in the kombucha as possible! 😀

    • I’m the same, I’ve just strained my first fermentation 😢 hoping I get some fizz .
      Can it still be drunk if it’s not fizzy?
      Btw, great blog

  5. Hi,
    I made my first batch and I think it could use a bit more fizz. I went with the instructions on your original site/video and strained after 2nd fermentation with mesh strainer before bottling. On this site is lists straining as a possibility of affecting carbonation and shouldn’t be done before bottling. Can you help clarify for this newby? Thanks 🙂 The mojito and banana bread recipes turned out good but may need more carbonation.

    Reply
    • No problem Christa! Just as a note, straining before the second fermentation isn’t a big deal/mistake, but if you’re having trouble with carbonation it’s a good starting point for fixing that. 😀

  6. Hi! I’ve been trying to perfect my carbonation recently. my first couple of brews I had no carbonation and I figured I wasn’t adding enough fruit. This last time i had so much carbonation it exploded out of the bottles when I opened it (huge mess!) But when, I strained the Kombucha and put it in my final serving bottle it no longer had any carbonation? Do you know how i can fix that?

    Reply
    • You might just try straining it as you serve. I like to use a small mesh strainer, and hold it right over my glass. Then I just pour the kombucha through the strainer and into the serving glass!

      And to prevent wastage when bottles fizz over, try opening the bottle while holding it over a large bowl, with a plastic baggie over the top. 😀

  7. Thank you for the advice on here etc. I have 2 main problems. Once I open my f2 bottle I tend to loose the fizz from the on. So subsequent cups will have no fizz. Second problem, f2 is very cloudy. I see other people’s booch are clear. How do I achieve this. Thank you

    Reply
    • Cloudy kombucha isn’t necessarily a problem. It usually just indicates that your yeast is more active and is causing more movement in the kombucha. With that said, my green tea kombucha batches are usually more clear, so you could try that out!

      As for losing fizz, this is normal. Just leave it out at room temperature for a few hours and it should recarbonate!

  8. I actually prefer mine with less fizz. Is it harmful to not strain? I thought the bits would be healthy. Love the information you provide.

    Reply
    • You can definitely leave it unstrained! Everything is edible, from the gooey bits to the SCOBY. Straining is just for texture 🙂

  9. Stirring the booch before bottling and ensuring the bottles only had an inch of space at the top fixed all my issues! Thanks!

    Reply
  10. My pineapple/ginger kombucha fizzed A LOT when i opened the bottle but fizzed out when i poured it into a glass, anything i can do about that?

    Thanks a bunch! 🙂

    Reply
    • You can pop it in the fridge for a few hours/days before opening. This forces the carbonation into the liquid even more and can prevent over fizzing!

  11. any tips on stirring your kombucha without removing the scoby? I use a spigot so I don’t have to clean between each batch but whenever I move my scoby to stir, the scoby changes shape and Im scared I will break it. I think I’m not getting good carbonation because I haven’t been able to stir my first fermentation properly before bottling.

    Reply
    • Don’t worry about breaking your SCOBY, they’re VERY sturdy. So don’t hesitate to stir with a big (clean) spoon. Otherwise, roughly swirl the whole jug around to mix.

    • Thanks for asking this Gianna, this is what I’ve been wondering too! Thanks for the answer Sarah! I gave my f1 kombucha/SCOBY a stir, and though I’m sad to see the SCOBY lose its pretty disc shape, at least I know there’s nothing wrong with it 🙂

  12. I m a newer in kombucha. Can it still be drinkable if not fizzy in the 2nd fermentation or any other ways to use it? Just dont want to throw it away. Thanks you.

    Reply
  13. Thanks so much for these great tips. I quite like not having too much fizz in my kombucha but definitely need a bit more in my brew. Have identified a few things that I can fix up so will definitely be giving them a try.

    Reply
  14. Can the second fermentation create another scoby? I split up my first batch after first fermentation. The plain one seems to have formed a “scum” or maybe a scoby?? It was in a mason jar with a plastic lid- – -so probably not fully sealed.

    The second one I tried to make cream soda, but let too much room and not a lot of carbonation happened.

    Also, if it smells like vinegar, is it bad? or too acidic to safely drink??

    Reply
    • Yep, SCOBYs can form in 2F and that’s totally fine. Kombucha often smells like vinegar, but it’s more about the taste (it could still be a nice sweetness). Acidity is to your preference but safe to drink!

  15. As I’ve already stated, My Willie says she’s freezing if the houshold temperature drops below 80F. The Kombucha jars are normally reading from 80 to 81F, so our buch has been ready for bottling in about 8 days. I’m sure the temperature also affects the 2nd fermentation favorably. . We appreciate your tips so much. I believe those who can learn from other’s mistakes are the lucky ones’

    Reply
  16. This has been a fun adventure as I too had a bottle blow all over me,(my 1st one) kitchen, window, floor, even the dog had chunks of strawberries in his hair, the ounce of beautiful fizzy buch that was left was delish so the idea of opening it in a bowl/baggie will allow me to enjoy this lovely drink, thank you for all the tips and info

    Reply
  17. I brewed my first batch of Buch during June and really could have used this article a few weeks ago! I resolved it to a certain degree, but there are a few more tips here I may use for my second batch!

    Reply
  18. Need help! I’ve brewed a number of successful, carbonated batches, but now I’m stumped. Made a delicious orange vanilla simple syrup and I’ve got ZERO carbonation in the bottles after 14 days. Everyone talks about bottle bombs from too much sugar, but I suspect the opposite: the yeast are overwhelmed and won’t consume the massive sugar quantities. I used 1c sugar to 1c water, and used the majority of the syrup over 8 or so pints. This seems like as much as an ounce of sugar per bottle? This doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable to me, but the bottles were sickeningly sweet… I read somewhere about yeast going dormant from too much sugar but can’t find it now. Is that the case? Can too much sugar stunt yeast activity? TIA

    Reply
    • Hi Benjamin! I haven’t heard of this before but I suppose that it could be possible! Perhaps even out the sugar ratio by adding more unflavored kombucha, which should get things kickstarted again!

  19. I’ve made several batches of kombucha, and continue to struggle with citrus flavoring in 2nd ferment. Most of my flavorings have nice (or too much) carbonation, but I can’t get any carbonation in my orange vanilla (squeeze orange juice and add vanilla extract) or my lemon lime (squeeze lemon and lime juice and add some zest).

    To add, the same batch of kombucha carbonates well with other fruit flavors.

    Any thoughts on this? Is it just that there isn’t as much sugar for the yeast to eat in citrus?

    Reply
    • You may just need to add a little extra sugar to help power the carbonation in those batches! Lemon and lime especially don’t have much sugar, so if your kombucha is already low on sugar (like if you fermented it for longer in F1), then it’ll need a little bit to carbonate.

  20. These recommendations are great and I have just started a brand new batch of buch, however I have 2 half gallons from my last batch that I had to put into the fridge because I was going to be gone for 2 weeks. I have done second fermentation in the fridge before with no problems but this time there is no fizz. Can I try adding some sugar to them and see if that works or should I just toss them out?

    Reply
    • Just pull them out of the fridge so the yeast can become active again. That should do it! 😀

  21. OK my 2nd fermentation is flat (thinking I let the 1st fermentation go too long & maybe my 2nd too) as it is more vinegary tasting. I normally do NOT add fruit or juice to my 2nd ferment as I like the taste of the fizzy tea.

    Question – can I empty the bottles from 2nd flat ferment back into pail & add fruit juice to try to get the sugar from the juice to feed/create fizz and bottle again and try a 3rd ferment? Does this make sense?

    Reply
    • Yep you can definitely do that! Sounds like it just ran out of sugar so it didn’t have anything to power the carbonation 😀

  22. Hi,

    I wonder if you could help: for a standard 500ml swing top bottle, how much sugar/honey would you add for the second fermentation?

    Cheers

    Grant

    Reply
  23. I think my problem is too much headspace, but I don’t have anymore first fermentation brew to add to the bottle! What do I do?

    Reply
    • You can stick it in the fridge until you have more F1 kombucha to add, then pull it out and let F2 run once the bottle is fuller 😀

  24. Hi Sarah!

    Your guidance has been very helpful in getting me started making my own kombucha. Mine is so much better than (expensive) store-bought kombucha.

    Regarding F2 carbonation, the “fizz”, I have a couple of questions:
    1. What is the right amount of which fruit to get good fiz during F2 in 16 oz fermentation bottles?
    2. I am using “raw sugar” in my kombuch. Have you found any alternatives for someone who wants good “fizz” and has to watch their sugar intake due to diabetes?
    3. Have you found a particular type of tea, tea blends, or brands that are better for good F2 carbonation?

    I have a pretty good handle on the taste/time, temperature/pressure, and the biology/chemesty aspects of fermentation (I made my first still in 1981…..shh…). I realy enjoy your suggestions. They help me tweak my brews.

    Thanks.

    Jim S.

    Reply
    • Hi Jim! So happy to hear this info has been helpful for you.
      1. Check out our kombucha flavors for specific recipes. I typically flavor by the 1/2 gallon, so it will make 4 16-oz bottles.

      2. While you should be using sugar to brew, you can push down the finished sugar content to make it more diabetic friendly. Here’s how!

      3. All tea I’ve tried has generally worked pretty well! Here are the best teas to use.

      Happy brewing!

  25. I may be confused. For F2, I thought I was supposed to pour kombucha into my 16oz bottles leaving room to add fruits/sugar each then put the lid on and ferment for a few days. Your instructions about filtering after F2 lead me to believe that I’m not supposed to bottle until AFTER F2. So do I add fruit and sugar to my gallon jar of kombucha for F2 then filter/divide into 16oz bottles? If that’s the case, how do you maintain carbonation if you’re pouring it up after it’s been carbonated in F2. Lots of questions, I know, lol!
    TIA

    Reply
    • How you states first is correct. F2 is pouring kombucha into bottles, adding sugar/fruit, then putting a lid on it. If you want to filter out the fruit and gunk, you can strain the kombucha right before serving. This will remove a little carbonation, but not all of it.

    • This is my confusion, too! I do F1 is large wide mouth jar. Then, F2 is where I don’t quite understand. I’ve been putting mine in 1/2 gallon igloo coolers with fruit for F2 then straining into individual glass jars. Not sure what to do.

  26. Hiya I’ve been making kombucha for a few years and after reading all your wonderful tips I can see why mine is not fizzy on second fermentation….I read that second fermentation only took 2 days – I will leave it longer and get some fizz…..I still enjoy drinking mine not so fizzy….thank you and happy kombucha making x

    Reply
  27. Thank you for this post! My second fermentation is not fizzy 😞. If I take it out of refrigeration and put it back in a warm place for a longer period of time, is that OK?

    Reply
  28. Hi
    This is my first time making kombucha very exciting! Instead of pouring kombucha in to bottles for last fermentation/carbonation can I just remove the muslin and scoby from my 2 gallon dispenser and seal with the attached rubber seal lid. Then just use drinks dispenser and pour in to glasses. Or do you advise using bottles for preserving? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Sharon! I recommend you use flip top bottles, which are meant to hold in more carbonation. Adding the flavors to the large dispenser will give it a nice flavor, but you probably own’t get much carbonation (+ you would have to find somewhere else to house your SCOBY in the meantime).

  29. I am on maybe my 4th batch and just bottle it a few hours ago. I realized I had forgotten to add a little sweetener – I use ginger and turmeric and only a tiny additional sweetener as I like very spicy, fizzy kombucha. One bottle popped and fizzed out half of the Buch and the second larger bottle did nothing. It was very strange. They both came from the same batch, which i stirred before bottling, and are in the same type of bottle (only i have two different sizes for experimenting; fliptop airtight bottles) and they both had ginger and turmeric; the one that fizzed over has 1 juice from 1 Pica lime (IDK what these are in N Amer as I’m in S Amer where these tiny yet powerfully strong tasting limes are the most common type). I have used all of these ingredients before except this batch i used fresh turmeric as it’s hit or miss as to whether I can find fresh. Maybe I put too much ginger in the smaller bottle that fizzed over? But only 3 hours after bottling?! What happened?!?! Even after 3 days of the second fermentation i sometimes don’t get a good pop and fizzso this was weird!

    Reply
  30. When my kombucha is too fizzy on second brew when I open it. I make sure I wash the bottle before I open it under some water in the sink. The I take at least a 2 cup measuring cup and set my bottle in it then and open slowly let the fizz fill up in your measuring cup until it stops fizzing enough that you can take the cap off then all you need to do is pour it back in your bottle to enjoy and no lost product. But you have to open slowly and don’t take cap all the way off at first until the pressure subsides

    Reply
  31. My second fermentation is not fizzy after leaving it outside for 4 days …and when i strain it with a strainer its very watery …any suggestions….im too worried .

    Reply
  32. 2 questions – one can you ONLY use sugar? I know you need something for the scoby to feed from but would honey be ok? Especialy in the 2nd ferment? Also can you use decaf tea? Lastly my end result was not carbonated so I added some cider vinager and sugar let see

    Reply
  33. My flavoring for second ferment was dried & sweetened cranberries, 1 tablespoon of orange juice & crushed cloves. Not very fizzy. Any ideas? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hmm that sounds like if would have worked well, so I would troubleshoot with the ideas listed in this article. Sounds like a tasty flavor! 😀

  34. Hi! Could a reason my second ferment isn’t fizzy is because my first ferment went too long? I do continuous brew and sometimes I wait a long time after feeding to bottle for the second ferment. Like over a month. If the first ferment is too vinegary would that harm the second ferment? Or should I just add more sugar/food? Thanks:)

    Reply
  35. I bottled some kombucha two days ago, but so far it appears no gas is being produced. I added 165g of guava puree to each of two 48 oz bottles and filled to within 2 inches of the top. This is my first batch with this SCOBY, so not sure of the health of my culture at this point. I checked the pH of the batch about two days before bottling and it was 3.1, so it at least seems like the bacterial culture is healthy and doing its thing.

    Could it be that the yeast culture is just not very strong yet? Am I just being impatient and it takes a little while for the yeast to get going? If it does not carbonate, what are your thoughts on adding a little dry champagne yeast? Any tips on strengthening the yeast culture of my SCOBY?

    Love your site and definitely appreciate any help you may have.

    Reply
    • It could be that your culture isn’t potent enough yet. And be sure those bottles are fermentation grade so that they capture all the gas that may be being produced!

  36. Several questions…first batch.
    1. If strawberry purée stays on top of bottle, do i shake it gently or just leave it as is? Once a larger kombucha bottle is opened, does it lose carbonation after a few days?
    2. I used 4 English Breakfast teabags and 4 passion fruit teabags for F1 – Is this ok? I forgot that herbal teas weren’t recommended. The initial SCOBY split into 2 separate 1/4” layers (when i grew it), AND another SCOBY formed on top at the end of F1 (but so full that it was only the size of the gallon jar opening)….leaving 3 SCOBY’s in the gallon jar. I’ve bottled/flavored for the F2. Now do I leave ALL 3 of the SCOBY’s in with the starter? Will it need more sugar because there’s more SCOBY to eat it?
    3. When brewing next batch, do i have to remove SCOBY/starter before adding sweet tea, or can I just leave it all in the jar and add the sweet tea to simplify a step?
    4. Instead of boiling water to sanitize bottles, can i rinse under hot, hot tap water, or would i be letting bacteria from pipes possibly ruin the batch?
    Sorry so many Q’s….trying to get this down and not use quite so much time.
    Thanks for your great guide and tips!!
    Excited!

    Reply
    • Hi Lori!

      1. You can gently flip the bottle to incorporate the berries in the buch. After opening, it will lose some carbonation, but you can always seal it back up and let it sit at room temp to recarbonate.

      2. I would avoid herbal teas going forward. But you can leave all the SCOBYs in there, they don’t need anymore food than just 1 would.

      3. You can leave the SCOBY in there while you add thee new tea, so long as it isn’t hot.

      4. Boiling is best!

  37. I’ve been successfully brewing for a year, but for the past few brews my SCOBYs have been sinking to the bottom of the brew jar from the get-go (tea is at room temperature). A new SCOBY is forming on each jar, but excruciatingly slowly, more like a thin film after 7 days, and the tea is still too sweet for F2. I am using heating pads so I know my brew is warm enough. Could my SCOBYs just be worn out after a year in a hotel? Thanks for your helpful advice!

    Reply
  38. Great tips!! Thanks a lot!!
    I wonder about alcohol content if I leave it to ferment too long? Or add too much fruit (sugar)? Don’t want tipsy buch!!

    Reply
  39. hi Sarah, thank you for your wonderful site and all the information you have shared, I do have a question though, my scoby and kombucha had been forgotten and left in the cupboard for possibly over 10 months and man doesn’t it smell like really really strong vinegar, phew, but it looked like a dead scoby was floating on the bottom with some slimy stuff in between and 3 scobys on the top, the bottom one of the 3 didn’t look the safest so i split the top one off ,gave it a rinse and put it in a new bottle with fresh tea and some fruit juice and a teaspoon of sugar, it appears to be making bubbles and the scoby has grown to almost cover the entire area of the new bigger bottle, my questions are ,, will the new stuff be safe to drink, ? should I have done what I did?, is there anything else I should do ? and there is a metal lid on the bottle, should I change it to a piece of cloth ? , regards Bryan.

    Reply
    • Hi Bryan! As long as there isn’t any sign of mold, it should be fine! I would put a cloth covering on top though versus something airtight 😀

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