Looking for a sweet and sparkling, yet healthy beverage? Or a zero-waste alternative to soda pop? Ginger bug soda is a deliciously probiotic beverage made from fresh ginger. It is perfect for all sorts of different flavored pops.
Ginger bug is a good homemade soda pop alternative for anyone who doesn’t regularly brew kombucha or water kefir. It is a wild-yeast culture made from sugar and fresh ginger. It only takes around 5 days to catch and it’s pretty reliable for newbie fermenters.
How to Flavor Ginger Bug Sodas
Traditionally ginger bug is used to make spicy ginger beer. However, it can also be turned into all sorts of different flavored soda pops.
Here are a few different ways to add flavor to ginger bug soda:
- Juice: I recommend using clear juices, like blueberry, apple, or pomegranate. If you want a sparkling lemonade then use just 1/2 cup of lemon juice mixed into filtered water. Avoid juices that have added preservatives, as they will slow down or stop the fermentation.
- Teas: Unlike jun or kombucha, you can use any flavor of tea for your ginger bug sodas. Herbal, black, or green teas will all add a unique flavor.
- Other additions: You can also flavor the ginger soda with spices, dried fruits, vanilla bean, or citrus zest.
Favorite Flavor Combinations
When experimenting with flavoring ginger bug sodas, don’t forget that the hint of ginger will always be there. Here are a few of my favorite flavors.
Here are three traditional ginger bug soda flavors.
- Strong and Spicy Ginger Beer: Traditional ginger beer is hot and spicy, and sometimes it even includes hot pepper! Here’s my recipe for ginger beer.
- Turmeric Soda: Bright yellow turmeric soda is a perfect alternative for anyone who can’t handle the spice of ginger. Fresh turmeric and ginger are completely interchangeable, and I often use a mix of both.
- Holiday Ginger ale: Cranberry ginger ale is a winter tradition in Canada. Though the bright red beverage is delicious at any time of year.
Flavors for ginger bug soda pop
Here are some flavors that are brewed using the recipe below. They are scaled for 3 1/2 cups of liquid. The sugar in the general recipe feeds the ginger bug for a carbonated soda. You can use less sugar, but the beverage won’t be as bubbly.
- Ginger Lemonade: Use 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with 3 cups of filtered water along with the zest from 2 lemons.
- Berry Punch: Use 2 cups of berry juice with 1 1/2 cups of filtered water for a bright pink concoction (as seen in the photo above).
- Iced Chia: Brew 3 1/2 cups of chai tea. Stir a little bit of milk or cream into the glass before serving.
- White Mint: Brew 3 1/2 cups of white tea, add in 3 large sprigs of fresh mint leaves.
- Cream soda: Brew 3 1/4 cups black tea, add in 1/4 cup of raisins and 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract.
- Gingered Peach: Finely chop 1 ripe peach and mix with green tea for the 3 1/2 cups of liquid.
- Immune Booster: Use 1/2 cup of cranberry juice, 3 cups of water 2 Tbsp of grated fresh turmeric, and the juice and zest from 1 lemon.
Ginger Bug Soda Pop
Ginger bug sodas are the easiest homemade probiotic soda pop. Ginger bug can be flavored juice, tea or herbs, and spices. Experiment to find your own favorite combination or use one of my suggestions from the section above.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 4 cups 1x
- Category: Beverages
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Traditional
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 3 1/2 cups water, fruit juice, or brewed tea
- 3–6 Tbsp sugar (see notes for more details)
- 1/4 cup ginger bug starter
- Spices, fruit, and other flavor additions (See the section above for recommended flavors)
- Mix the liquid with the sugar, and ginger bug starter in a quart-sized (1 L) glass jar. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Add any additional fruit, spices, or other flavor additions.
- Cover the jar with a piece of cloth or a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band or metal ring. Place the jar somewhere warm and allow it to ferment for 3-5 days. Give the mixture a good stir each day.
- Once the ginger bug soda has begun to bubble it is ready for bottling. Strain the liquid into a bottle that can handle the buildup of carbonation. See below for details.
- Allow the bottled sodas to ferment at room temperature for a further 5-7 days to build up the carbonation. Pop the bottles every two days to test the carbonation.
- Once it’s fizzy, move it to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation. Ginger bug sodas taste best if consumed within four weeks of bottling, as they will continue to ferment until all the sugar is consumed.
- The ginger bug feeds on sucrose, so you need to use sugar or coconut palm sugar in this recipe. Over time more and more of the sugar will be consumed by the ginger bug, so if it seems too sweet, then let it ferment a little bit longer. It is possible to not include any additional sugar, however, the soda will not be as carbonated.
- You can use straight juice as the liquid for a very sweet ginger bug soda. Since the juice is high in fructose, the sweetness won’t be consumed by the ginger bug. Otherwise, I recommend a mix of 1/2 juice and 1/2 water.
- Finished ginger bug sodas will continue to build up carbonation. Use plastic pop bottles or swing-top bottles that can handle the pressure of carbonation.
- If you end up making a lot of soda, I recommend getting a funnel that has a filter built-in.
Keywords: ginger ale, ginger beer, probiotic, summer, healthy, soda pop, vegan, gluten free
What is the ginger bug starter? Where do I get this from?
It’s something that you make, simply from the yeasts in your environment. Here’s the link for making the ginger bug: https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/archives/1599. It should only take you about a week.
When you use”Bug”. Do you use just the liquid or both, ginger and liquid? Then how do you replace what you use:1/4c.H2O,1Tbs each,ginger and sugar?
You only need to use the liquid. It should be full of live bugs all on it’s own. I’ll update the recipe to make that more clear. Thanks!
JoAnn M Lakes
I don’t think the question is really answered. I wonder about the liquid also. We take out the liquid and want it replenished for my next batch. Directions on keeping a continuous brew.
This post is about flavouring ginger bug; for info on post on feeding and maintaining the starter check out the post on ginger bug starter. In general, to keep your starter active feed it 1 tbsp of ginger and 1 tbsp of sugar with 1/4 cup of water whenever you take out 1/4 cup of starter (or at least once a week).
Emillie! My name is Emmilie! Haha. Thanks for the recipes!
Don’t you love creative parents. 🙂 Enjoy!
Do you think I could bottle my sodas (like beer?) to be able to store them for longer periods in a cold room?
The short answer… yes.
The long answer… you would need to brew them more like a beer. Keep everything sterile. Brew your second fermented with an airlock. Continue to ferment until it stops bubbling. Then bottle, adding a bit of sugar to get it to carbonate while in storage. Personally, I haven’t done it. I usually stash bottles in my fridge and drink them within 2 months.
Hello. I have been enjoying your ginger bugs recipes. I’d like to advise others to please heed your warning about the possibility of bottles exploding from the pressure. I used a bottle I purchased from Target that had a lid that seemed just right. It exploded in my kitchen the day after I bottled it. It made a heck of a noise and a real nice mess. Thankfully, no one was in the kitchen at the time. It could have been really bad with the glass all over the place.
I had a glass bottle explode so now I use only plastic bottles, you still have to leave some space for expansion.
I have used plastic water bottles and other recycled cool drink bottles, no real need to release the gases as the bottles do expand and then become hard to press in which is a good sign that they are about ready to drink. Times of brewing do vary up to 1-2-3 weeks, a longer brew brings out a better taste. When opening release the bottle caps slowly. So far no explosions.
Plastic bottles are easier. Thanks!
Loves these flavouring ideas. What kind of proportions are you using? 1/4 cup of bug liquid to 3-4 cups flavoured liquid?
Thanks for posting!
Each flavour will work with one batch of ginger bug, so if you were using juice, you would replace part of the water with juice. I usually use a mixture of 1 cup juice and 2 cups water (depending on the juice).
I’ve now made a couple of successful sodas using the ginger bug, however I’ve tried twice now to make the lemonade one and am not having any luck. Does it take longer to ferment? Day three and not one bubble in sight.
I also just had a batch of ginger bug that wouldn’t ferment. In my case, I think it’s because my house is a bit colder than ideal. However, lemon makes me think of a few things:
1. If you use bottled lemon juice then it’s probably full of sulfites, which prevent fermentation.
2. Lemon isn’t very sweet, so maybe there’s not enough sugar?
Otherwise, I’m not sure what is going on. Fermenting is a mix of art and science, and it doesn’t always work out.
When using juice (1cup juice to 2. 5 c water). Do I still need to add the sugar?
It depends on how sweet the juice is. I usually don’t like very sweet ginger bug sodas, so I only add 1-2 tbsp to get it to sparkle, but not enough to sweeten it.
This isn’t exactly healthy, but for a treat you can disolve your favourite boiled sweets and use that in place of fruit. They are usually sugar, so it works well. I’m about to try liquorice and maybe mints. Kids get into making this stuff really fast 🙂
What a good idea! Especially for a more unusual flavour like licorice.
I haven’t made this yet, I’m waiting on my very first batch of Ginger Bug to finish growing and then I intend to try an orange soda out. My question though is, after I’ve bottled the soda and it is done fermenting and ready to go in the fridge, can I store the bottles on their side? Do I need to wait until they are completely chilled before laying them down? I can store them upright if I have to but it is easier on my fridge organization if they can go on their side at any point.
The bottles don’t have to be stored upright, however, they will be under pressure, so there’s a chance of the seals leaking. If you plan on using plastic pop bottles, then it’s probably fine, but I would be concerned about storing glass flip-top bottles on their side.
For the recipe of the Cream Soda, how much of black tea do I need to brew?
Replace all of the water with black tea. Or if that’s too much caffeine then use decaf black tea. Cheers!
My ginger bug is ready ! Yay !
I was wondering if it’s possible to add some to any beverage and drink it right away, without second fermentation, or do you get less benefits from doing it like that ?
Thank you so much !
Definitely, yes! However, it won’t be fizzy unless you brew ginger beer (or mix it with sparkling water).
I dislike anything carbonated but really like ginger, so I have been wondering if I can make a ginger bug beverage without it being carbonated. I think Julia’s question and your reply kind of answered that. So, do I just stop at step #3 in your recipe then store the liquid in a mason jar in the fridge or do I do something else? And, how long will the drink keep in the fridge. Thanks!
Ginger bug should last about 1 month in the fridge. You could either take your starter and mix it into non-carbonated water/ cold tea/juice. Alternatively, for a really ginger drink, follow my recipe for ginger beer, using only 2-3 tbsp of sugar, then put it in the fridge right after bottling. It might be slightly carbonated, but it won’t build up the carbonation typical of fermented drinks. Enjoy! https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/homemade-ginger-beer/
You could just brew some grated/chopped ginger in hot water then cool it. Add to whatever you like, no sugar or fermentation needed.
Marie de Klerk
I made the ginger bug which came out lovely. I will now keep in fridge…BUT
I made “soda” with berry juice as directed AND AFTER 3 DAYS NO FERMENTATION?
I NEED HELP PLEASE?
Hi! I have two ideas: Double check that your juice didn’t contain preservatives, which will prevent fermentation. Preservatives don’t have to be labelled in Canada or the USA (if used in small amounts). So you need to see Preservative Free on the label.
Did you add sugar? If you used straight juice then it’s still fermenting, it just won’t be as bubbly since ginger bug consumes sucrose, not the fructose in juice.
Regardless, let it ferment for 5 days, then bottle and hopefully, it will carbonate! Juice does take longer than straight ginger bug or ginger ale. It’s just not as robust without the dose of sugar and ginger to feed the bug. Good luck!
Great recipe! Thank you! We’ve really enjoyed this. The lemonade recipe was great! Going to try other flavors on the next batch.
I have an active Ginger Bug in my refrigerator. This is going to sound strange, but I recently canned peaches, and had the lemon juice/water mixture (to prep the peaches), and some of the sugar/water syrup leftover (that the peaches were simmered in for canning). I mixed it together for drinking, because why waste it?! Then I thought…why not try making a soda out of it with my Ginger Bug?! It’s been fermenting for 2 days, and bubbling nicely. Like yours, most recipes I read, say to strain and bottle after fermenting for a few days. Is there some benefit to “bottling” in an actual bottle shaped vessel? Does it help the carbonation? I don’t have any bottles. I have it fermenting in a canning jar covered with a coffee filter. Could I just filter it into another jar, put an actual lid on it and let it finish “carbonating” in that container? Thanks!
Sounds yummy! Bottling is what allows for carbonation. If you capped it in the mason jar, then either it wouldn’t hold in the CO2 or (much worse) it could explode! You need to use glass bottles or plastic bottles that are able to handle the build-up of carbonation. However, even if you don’t carbonate it, it will still be delicious! Feel free to drink and enjoy with fewer bubbles than you would have with bottling. 🙂
This is a really great content, I can see how detailed you have gone through and explained about ginger bug soda flavours. I love this article, thanks for producing such great contents. I love your posts always.
I don’t see the recipe for Strong and Spicy Ginger Beer:
Hi Karen, it was included as a link to a different recipe on my site. Since ginger beer is so popular it got its own recipe. Here it is again: https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/homemade-ginger-beer/ Enjoy!
Help, there is white floaties ontop of fluid
That sounds like it might be kahm yeast? Ginger bug is prone to growing kahm yeast, and it’s fine to drink ginger bug that has kahm yeast. If you aren’t sure if it’s kahm yeast or mold you can check out this post for pictures and more details: https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/kahm-yeast-mold/ Good luck!
Is it possible to sweeten the tea with honey and leave out the sugar? Or is sugar the only option for a ginger bug? Because I know kombucha is sweetened with honey while in the second ferment.
Also when I bottled a batch before, another website said to burp the bottles every 8 hours, I did that and it pretty much exploded when I opened it and lost all of my soda in the sink
Hi! Like kombucha, ginger bug is fed with sugar (sucrose). However, you can use honey (glucose/fructose) instead. It will result in a sweeter and less carbonated beverage. I’ve made ginger bug with 100% fruit juice (fructose) for sweetener… and it worked out. But it was sweet and not as sparkly.
As for the other recipe… it sounds like the soda was bottled early in the ferment. I recommend fermenting with exposure to the air for 3-5 days before bottling. This will reduce the sweetness, boost the ferment and avoids issues with too much carbonation. I typically leave bottled ginger bug for 1-2 days to carbonate, then start drinking it!
Being new to fermenting I bought a book on fermenting for beginners. So much was left out. Example: What does the fermenting process look like when it’s working (mine never bubbled at all); Do you strain the bug before adding to liquid? Thanks to your website I now have ALL the information I need to try my hand at this. Thank you for giving such complete instructions and for your notes on continued fermenting…….. I will begin again and feel confident that everything will work this time.
Great! I usually look for bubbles at the top of the jar, and I lick the spoon after stirring to see if it’s sparkling. Enjoy!
I am wondering – I mixed the ginger bug starter with the juice/water/sugar and in less than 24 hours (closer to 12) it is already bubbling very vigorously. I can hear them pop constantly! It also smells great. Should I still wait longer until the 3 day mark or could I cap the bottle for carbonation once I see lots of bubbles?
I am on my second batch, but my first batch declined in bubbling by day 3 and almost had no audible bubbling on day 4. I bottled it anyway to let it carbonate. Should I have added sugar and wait again or was it ok to bottle?
It sounds like your starter is really active! Figuring out when to bottle soda is always a bit tricky. If you want it to be sweet, you can bottle it as soon as it is bubbling vigorously. Then store it in the fridge right away to prevent over-carbonation. If it’s that vigorous it should still carbonate in the fridge. Otherwise, maybe wait until day 2 or 3. If the first bottle didn’t carbonate, add 1 tsp of sugar to the bottle and let it sit out of the fridge for 24 hours. It should start bubbling again soon. Enjoy!
Awesome. Great advice. Thank you!
I just made a matcha soda, an elderberry soda, and an earl grey lavender soda yesterday. There are some strands (looks like what is in apple cider vinegar) that are appearing on the top of the earl grey soda and am not sure what this is. Would you mind sharing your insight? Thanks so much!
Wow! Those flavors sound delicious! I’ve never made Earl Grey-flavored ginger bug before. However, I know that some more acidic juices (orange juice, pineapple juice) will cause yeast to form stringy strands. It’s why I generally recommend not using them as a flavor. I wonder if something about Earl Grey did the same thing? I know the citrus notes come from bergamot, but maybe there’s something similar happening? It should be fine to drink, just pour it through a filter when serving. The only real concern would be mold on the surface of the ferment. Enjoy!
Wow! Thanks for your quick helpful response! That makes all the sense. Looking forward to giving it a try once it’s ready to go.
Love your recipes! And I am excited to try them out! Do you know if the “fermentation” process makes these homemade sodas alcoholic?
Yeast turns sugar into CO2 (bubbles) and alcohol. So all fermented sodas contain some alcohol. However, none of these beverages are alcoholic in the traditional sense. They are made with a combination of yeasts and bacteria. Acetic acid bacteria turn alcohol into acetic acid. It’s why the beverages become sour as they ferment. The resulting sodas are usually less than 1% ABV. Cheers, Emillie
Hi there, I just love your site and have been loving experimenting with different ginger/turmeric bug flavors. I have been having inconsistent results with the second ferment to build carbonation though. The only flavor I have had real success with was a pomegranate juice base. I have tried ginger beer, lemonade, and other juices, but they either turn out lightly carbonated or not at all. I always add at least the minimum amount of sugar in your recipes. Can you help me figure out what is going wrong?
Interesting that you notice such a difference. Are you using commercial juices? It could be due to the preservatives in the juices. For example, commercial lemon juice is very high in sulfites. Unfortunately, depending on where you live, sulfites aren’t required to be on the label. I have a whole post on sulfites that you can check out if you are interested.
My ginger beer recipe should work. However, I know that there is a very popular ginger beer recipe that doesn’t work (but is replicated on many sites…). So if your ginger beer recipe starts with boiling ginger, that may be the issue. Let me know if you’re struggling with my ginger beer recipe, and maybe we can figure it out. Cheers!