How to Flavor Kombucha With Ginger?

What better way to add some zing to your kombucha than Zingiber officinale. Also known as yellow ginger!

Ginger is a common flavor used in kombucha. It adds a spicy kick to the drink and has many health benefits of its own. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and can also help relieve nausea and upset stomach. Kombucha is a fermented tea that is known for its health benefits. It is rich in probiotics and antioxidants, which can help boost your immune system and improve your digestion. Needless to say, the health benefits of ginger and kombucha go hand in hand, just like the flavor.

When to add ginger to kombucha?

To flavor kombucha with ginger correctly, the timing is crucial.  If you add ginger to kombucha too early in the fermentation process, the drink will be too fiery. If you wait too long, the kombucha will be missing that zingy ginger flavor. The best time to add ginger to kombucha is during the second fermentation phase. 

What is meant by “secondary fermentation phase?

Unlike other fermented products, such as kimchi or sauerkraut, kombucha undergoes 2 fermentation phases:

  1. In the first phase, the sweet sugary tea is converted to a tart and satisfying kombucha. This is done through fermentation using yeast and bacteria.
  2. In the second fermentation, you add flavored kombucha to a sealed container and let it sit for 1-2 weeks. This allows the kombucha to become carbonated and take on the flavors of whatever you added to it.

Important: Only start customizing your kombucha by adding flavors, once the initial fermentation is completed.

What types of Ginger can you add to kombucha?

Ginger products come in all shapes and sizes, all of which taste great and greatly combine Kombucha’s flavor profile. To identify which type of ginger product you want to add to your kombucha, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want your Kombucha to have a clear or cloudy appearance?
  • Do you dislike chunky bits in the final product?

It’s all a matter of taste, but ultimately, you can add virtually any ginger preparation including:

  • Fresh ginger
    • Chopped (Cut them small, so they won’t clog the bottle later on)
    • Grated
    • Paste (You can use a garlic press or a grinder to make a ginger paste. It can also be bought at the Asian market)
    • Ginger juice
  • Frozen ginger
  • Candied ginger (some swear by adding chunks of candied ginger during the secondary fermentation(
  • Dried ginger powder
  • Ginger syrup (you can make this yourself and save the solid pieces to make candied ginger)
  • Ginger essential oils

Should you add fresh ginger or ginger powder to kombucha?

Fresh ginger root will give your kombucha a strong, spicy flavor, while ginger powder will provide a more mellow taste. If you’re looking for the maximum benefits, fresh ginger root is the way to go. However, using dried ginger powder means less work and may also make your batches more consistent.

Why does ginger make kombucha fizzy?

Kombucha is always fizzy. During fermentation, the kombucha bacteria and yeast eat the sugar in the tea and produce carbon dioxide and alcohol. The carbon dioxide makes the kombucha fizzy. However, adding ginger to kombucha can increase the fizziness even further, because the secondary fermentation is accelerated by the Gingerols in ginger.

How much Ginger should you add to kombucha?

The amount of ginger you use to flavor kombucha is also important. Start by adding 1/4 cup (60 ml) of grated or chopped ginger per gallon (3.8 L) of kombucha. This is a good starting point, but you can adjust the amount of ginger up or down to suit your taste.

Here are some other recommendations that kombucha brewers had success with:

  • 2 inches of ginger per jar
  • 8 grams of fresh ginger per 16oz bottle
  • 1 ounce of ginger for half a gallon of kombucha
  • When using syrup: Add around 10% of the kombucha’s total volume. 
  • When using ground ginger: 2 Tablespoons per 16 oz bottle.

As always, take these tips with a grain of salt (not literally, don’t add salt to your kombucha!). Also remember, that these recommendations are likely based on common ginger. If you use galangal, add 50% more. If you have red ginger, add 50% less.

What Ginger varieties can you flavor kombucha with?

There are surprisingly many types of ginger, and it can be worthwhile experimenting a little!

Common Ginger (also known as Indian or Chinese ginger)

Zingiber officinale, is the best type of ginger to use for kombucha. It has a strong, pungent flavor that will really add a kick to your kombucha. We’ve had great success using regular “yellow” ginger as well as young ginger, which has a milder flavor.

Galangal (our favorite)

Alpinia galanga, also known as Thai ginger, has a more floral flavor and is less pungent than common ginger. It’s a great choice if you want to add a little bit of Ginger flavor to your kombucha without making it too spicy. In our opinion, it’s the best type of ginger for kombucha. Because it adds such a unique fragrance to the kombucha that can be compared to a floral women’s perfume.

Red Ginger

Boesenbergia rotunda, also known as Thai red ginger, has a similar flavor to common ginger but is even more pungent. We found that it can be a bit too overpowering in kombucha, so we recommend using it sparingly.

There are many more types of ginger that you can experiment with. Unfortunately, some of the more exotic varieties can be really hard to source in the U.S. and you may have to resort to growing your own.

Other ingredients that combine well with the ginger flavor

We always recommend doing a basic ginger kombucha first to get familiar with the taste profile. Once you made a successful ginger kombucha batch, you will likely have a good idea about which flavors you would like to add to take your kombucha game to the next level. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Try adding a few slices of fresh ginger to a second fermentation with fruits like strawberries or peaches.
  • Add grated ginger to kombucha that’s been flavored with herbs like mint or basil.
  • Add lemon juice or lemon zest: Lemon and ginger are a classic flavor combination for a reason, and are sure to elevate any basic kombucha into a refreshing summer drink.

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