Brewing Kombucha with Tap Water: Why and How
Discover the delicious fusion of tap water and kombucha brewing
Water is probably the coolest element. It connects us to all other living things. It demands awe and boasts beauty in its ability to carve out our landscape and creates some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Kombucha and Tap Water
Water, it falls from the sky, drains down our polluted roads, past the roadkill and dog poop, and carries all of that lovely stuff with it. For this reason, municipal water sources are chemically treated with chlorine and chloramines to make sure we have a relatively safe water source. Chlorine works as a disinfectant, killing harmful bacteria and viruses that could potentially make their way into your kitchen. While chloramine and chlorine serve their role by providing safe drinking water, when you are making homemade kombucha, you want to avoid them. Not only does it kill off harmful bacteria, but it also does the same to the SCOBYs beneficial bacteria. During the kombucha fermentation, we are trying to encourage microbe growth, not inhibit it, so using dechlorinated water is an important step.
Can I Use Plain Tap Water to Make Homemade Kombucha?
This question comes up daily, “Can I use tap water to brew kombucha?” Or some variation like “Do I need to use filtered water, spring water, mineral water, or distilled water? There is a lot of mixed information available on whether or not you should use tap water at all. So without further ado,
Can You Use Tap Water for Kombucha?
Yes, you can but not straight from the tap unless it’s filtered. Additional steps are required to make tap water suitable for brewing kombucha. This can be as simple as charcoal filtering the water or boiling before use. We will go over various methods so you will be able to determine which best suits you. Bottom line, If you would like to brew kombucha with tap water, you will first need to remove the chlorine or chloramines.
Chloramine or Chlorine: What’s in Your Tap Water?
Depending on where you live, your tap water will be different. If you insist on using tap water, the first step is determining what method is used to treat your water. The water treatment for tap water will be either chlorine or chloramine. You can find which way is used by contacting or visiting your utility company’s website.
- Chlorine: Chlorine is a common antiseptic used to make drinking water safe. It is also commonly used to treat swimming pools, amongst many others. Chlorine can easily be removed from tap water.
- Chloramine: An alternative antiseptic used to treat drinking water. It is made by reacting ammonia with chlorine bleach, the active ingredient. Chloramine isn’t as strong as chlorine, but it is much more stable. This stability makes it difficult to remove from tap water, but very possible.
Brewing Kombucha: How to Remove Chlorine and Chloramines From your Tap Water?
Filter it. Luckily, water filters are pretty inexpensive and last quite a while. This is probably the best and most practical option. Look for systems that use charcoal filtration, which most do now. The charcoal works to absorb impurities in the water and is effective in removing most of the chlorine and chloramines. The pitcher style filters, like the Brita Filter, use charcoal. I hooked up an under-the-sink filter in our kitchen, similar to this one that I LOVE. It has a separate faucet that comes up next to the main, making it simple to fill up a pot of water or my dog’s bowl, too!
Boil it. Boiling the water for 5 to 10 minutes allows dissolved chlorine gas to escape. Chloramines prove much more persistent than chlorine, which is the very reason they are used. While chloramines can eventually be boiled off, eventually, the amount of time this takes varies from sources from 20 minutes to several hours, to not at all. For this reason, it is recommended to filter water that contained chloramines after the boil, so really, why boil in the first place? The downfall of using the boil method is that you have to boil all the water for the brew. This means you have to wait forever for the water to cool down. If you have room in the fridge, you can put the pot in there for a few hours and try to speed up the process. Or you can boil the water the night before so it will be ready to use the next day, be sure to add the tea and sugar the night before.
Let it sit. For water with chlorine, you can just let it sit. This method’s limited and somewhat outdated now as the use of chloramines is much more common. Nonetheless, chlorine gas will evaporate on its own at room temperature if you let it sit for approximately 24 hours. The exact timing can vary depending on chlorine content, but 24 hours is a rule of thumb.
HOW TO MAKE KOMBUCHA WITH CHLORINATED TAP WATER?
You can simply filter it or use the boil method below.
- Determine the volume of your kombucha brews batch size i.e., one gallon. Measure one gallon of water plus extra to account for evaporation.
- Bring your water to a rolling boil and allow to boil for at least 5 minutes.
- Add your tea and sugar, and allow it to cool.
- Follow the remaining steps here – kombucha brewing instructions.
HOW TO MAKE KOMBUCHA WITH TAP WATER WITH CHLORAMINE?
- Determine the volume of your kombucha brews batch size i.e., one gallon.
- Filter water through a charcoal filter.
- Your water is ready to brew. Follow the remaining steps here – kombucha brewing instructions.
Side Note: San Francisco Water Company has an interesting article on brewing tea and coffee and its effects on neutralizing chloramines and chlorine in the tap water, as does the addition of vitamin C like an orange. While it’s interesting, remember all tap water is a little different, so be sure to take all variables into account when it comes to brewing kombucha, and your strategy on chlorine/chloramine removal.
The Complete Kombucha Brewing Guide
Kombucha Brewing and Proper pH
Kombucha Secondary Fermentation: How To
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I wish I had known to check out your website/blog spot early on, but unfortunately, on my first try at a jun kombucha, a sinking SCOBY made me think it had died, so I discarded it. I purchased another one, started it several days ago, and noticed that it had formed some brown stuff floating along side it, so decided to call with a question. That’s when I discovered (I know, sometimes guys just find it hard to follow instructions, like when all else fails….) your handy website on the back of the instruction package. After perusing it, you’ve set my mind at ease, and I can go forward with some great insights provided by y’all and your bloggers. Thanks so much. After reading this one, I had a question about water from a reverse osmosis supply, which we use for our household. Since it filters out pretty much everything, including most minerals, do you think I should continue purchasing spring water from the store, or just go ahead and use the RO water? I thought I read somewhere that many fermenting processes (ginger beer, water kefir, kombucha, etc.) need minerals during the fermentation to feed the probiotics? Any thoughts? Thanks again!
Hey Red! I’m so glad that you stopped by and got some value from the site! We work hard to debunk the common misconceptions and weird kombucha phenomenons that make people scared of brewing. When it comes to kombucha, it’s best to do what works for you, that way it easily integrates into your routine. If you and your family use RO water at your house, go ahead and brew with it! It’s true that minerals help yeast do their thing, but they can get all that they need from the tea and sugar that you’re providing for them. Cheers!