Bokashi tea: What is it and how can I use it?

Bokashi bucket spigot

If you are looking to start bokashi at home, then you have probably read about ‘bokashi tea’ or ‘bokashi leachate’. The bad news is that this isn’t a new super-healthy drink that will make you feel 50 years younger but the good news is that it is a by-product of the bokashi process and is a fabulous liquid fertilizer, and much more!

What is bokashi tea?

Bokashi tea, juice or leachate is the liquid that can be tapped from your bokashi kitchen composter. It contains a mixture of all the goodness from your bokashi kitchen composter; bokashi microbes, liquids from the food scraps and liquids produced during the fermentation process.

How can I use my bokashi tea?

  • Nutrient-rich fertilizer

Lush, healthy vegetable garden

Bokashi tea is a very nutrient rich fertilizer that can be used on your indoor plants, lawns, veggies and flowers. This can be added to areas of your garden where it would be difficult to add bokashi pre-compost, such as on you lawn or in heavily planted areas.

Bokashi tea is quite acidic and therefore we recommend a dilution rate of around 1:100. You may wish to test the dilution rate on sensitive plants and you may find that less sensitive plants can tolerate a lower dilution rate. The diluted bokashi tea fertilizer should be applied to the soil as the foliage will be more sensitive to high acidity levels.

Remember bokashi tea is teeming with the beneficial bacteria. We suggest you use your bokashi tea as soon as possible after draining it from your bokashi kitchen composter so that your plants can benefit from all of the goodness in it. If left unused for more than a few hours, then the tea may start to go bad…. and smell pretty awful!

  • Compost enhancer

Bokashi tea has millions of the microbes from your bokashi kitchen composter. These can be incredibly beneficial to your compost pile and can be poured directly into it. The bacteria will help to speed up the composting process in your compost pile. Adding bokashi tea is a great way to add moisture to your compost pile, if needed. Again, be sure to use fresh bokashi tea that you have just drained from your kitchen composter.

  • Drain unblocker

If you can’t use your bokashi tea straight away, don’t worry. You can simply poor it down the drain. It is completely natural and will not pollute. In fact, the bokashi bacteria can help to unblock clogged drains and are beneficial to the water treatment works too.

How soon should I get bokashi tea from my indoor kitchen composter?

This will depend on the materials that you are putting in your bokashi composter, but you will typically start to get bokashi tea after a couple of days. Don’t worry if it takes longer.

How much bokashi tea should I get?

Again, this will depend on the food scraps that you are putting into your bokashi kitchen composter. If you are adding lots of juicy fruit peelings and rinds then you can expect to get more bokashi tea than if you are adding lots of dry items. On average you will likely see a couple of tablespoons every day or two at first, up to around 1-2 cups every day or two.

Order now! Find all your bokashi composting supplies in our online shop.

You might also like to read

Cleaning drains and pipes with bokashi tea

Bokashi composting: how to get started

27 thoughts on “Bokashi tea: What is it and how can I use it?

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks for the question. Rainwater or dechlorinated is best but most people just use regular tap water. The chlorine will slightly reduce the viability of the bokashi microbes but if you are using the diluted bokashi tea immediately this is not a significant problem.

      Happy composting!

  1. It was my first time draining the bokashi tea, and I have managed spill it on my hands … It was stinging. I have kids and a dog around. Does it have any ill effects on animals and humans?

    1. No, the bokashi tea does not have any ill effects on animals and humans. The bokashi bacteria are completely harmless. The bokashi tea is quite acidic so the stinging was likely similar to the sensation of getting vinegar on your hands. This could be quite uncomfortable, especially if you have small cuts or dry skin.

    1. It is best to drain the tea every few days as too much liquid can cause the bokashi bucket to fail. If you are unable to (or forget to) drain the tea then all is not lost. Drain as soon as you can. As long as the tea and bokashi bucket still have the characteristic sweet, pickly smell, then everything is fine.

        1. The bokashi microbes cannot survive in an overly moist environment. Adding too much liquid to your bokashi bucket will mean that the bokashi microbes cannot thrive.

      1. Hi do i need to immediately drain the tea? Will the tea smell bad if it stayed inside the bucket for too long? Why will it smell?

        1. The tea should be drained every couple of days. If the tea isn’t drained regularly then a couple of things may happen. Firstly, the tea may go bad as the bokashi microbes in the tea are exposed to aerobic conditions in the reservoir of the bokashi bucket. And, secondly, too much liquid may build up in the bottom of the fermenting food waste, causing the bokashi bucket to go bad.

    1. Simply add the tea to your watering can and dilute to 1:100; approximately half to a full cup works well for a standard watering can. Then water across your lawn. If you have access to rainwater, or can leave your water to stand for at least 24 hours; that is ideal. Otherwise tap water works perfectly fine for diluting bokashi tea.

    1. Undiluted bokashi tea works best to kill shallow rooted weeds. Couch grass is a persistent weed due to its tough, long roots. However, using undilute bokashi tea may be helpful to kill new, more tender shoots.

  2. If the pipes in your house are copper and at least 35 years old, will they be adversely affected by the “highly acidic” undiluted ‘tea’?

    1. You are right in being cautious about adding the acidic bokashi tea to copper pipes, the high acidity could cause damage if you regularly pour it down the drain. Make sure to dilute before pouring down your drains with copper pipes.

  3. How often can I use the diluted bokashi tea on my outdoor vegie garden? Is using it everytime I drain the bin (1-2 times weekly) too much?

    1. The answer will depend on how much tea you are getting and how large your veggie garden is. However, we recommend using the tea up to once per week.

        1. Hi Laura,

          Thanks for your question. The answer will vary depending on a number of factors. How much soil is the plant in? What plant is it? What season is it? Bokashi tea is very acidic and has to be diluted at least 1:100 before applying. Houseplants typically don’t need much and we would recommend only using once a week (less than this during the non-growing season).

          Houseplants are grown in a finite amount of soil and if you apply too much bokashi tea the pH of the soil may become too acidic.

          Hope that helps 🙂

    1. The N-P-K values will vary depending on what food waste was put into the bokashi bucket. But the power in the bokashi tea comes from the microbes (rather than the N-P-K). The bokashi microbes are hugely beneficial to your soil and garden. These microbes form the critical foundation to the soil food web. These microbes form a symbiotic relationship with your plant roots to release nutrients and microbes that are otherwise inaccessible to the plant roots.

  4. Love your website and the very very comprehensive information and instructions! I really appreciate it!

    I recently bought a faulty bokashi bin – not airtight, and had my waste putrefying and full of maggots despite keeping it cloes. As I”m in Australia, I won’t be able to get your products easily, or do you have distributors in Melbourne?

    In regards to bokashi tea, how should it smell? As my bokashi went bad, I am not too sure what to expect if it goes right or how to identify if it goes bad.

    1. Hi Christopher,

      Thanks for the kind words and glad that you’ve found our website useful. Unfortunately we do not have a distributor in Australia and the cost of shipping our bins to you would likely be prohibitive.

      The tea should have a similar sweet, pickly smell to the bokashi compost. If it has a foul, putrid smell then it has gone bad. Make sure to drain your tea every couple of days so that the microbes are fresh and healthy when applied to your plants and garden.

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