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Jul 13, 2012 07:21 PM

Any advice on making Kombucha?

Hi has anyone made Kombucha? Any advice? I'm soon going to be embarking on this journey. Any tried and true tips would be most welcome. thanks!

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  1. I make both water kefir and dairy kefir but not kombucha. I'll be watching this thread with interest.

    1. Kombucha!! Booch baby!
      First thing--you gotta name your SCOBY. :-)
      Oh never mind.

      On a more serious note. Hopefully you got some instructions from whomever you got the scoby from.
      Most important; Never put HOT tea in with the scoby.
      SCOBY means Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeasts

      I usually boil my tea bags and sugar in a few cups of water. Then pour in the rest of the water. This not only cools the tea quickly but leaves more oxygen in the water as boiling boils off extra oxygen.
      And I boil the tea and sugar for 5 to 10 minutes. Just to get all the goodness out of the tea bags.

      Be sure to leave some acidic kombucha in with the scoby before adding fresh tea.
      Kombucha is extremely hardy providing you give it at least a little acidity to start with.

      I had been using black tea for years but now I use only green tea.
      If you want to experiment with any other teas I would suggest you do a seperate batch for experiments.
      My rule of thumb is 1/2 cup sugar to 4- 1 cup tea bags and a quart of water.

      I could write you pages and pages and have done so for several people to whom I freecycled scobys.
      But it's been done and you can find many useful instructions online. Not all of which agree.
      And I don't know how much you know already.
      You will find your own rhythm.

      Ferment in glass.
      I boil my tea and sugar in a stainless steel pan but no fermentation takes place in the pan.

      Ferment to the stage that YOU prefer. Taste with a straw after the first few days.

      Think about secondary fermentation AFTER you have gotten familiar with the brew process.
      For secondary fermentation I would suggest buying those wine bottle cork flip top things from the liquor store if you are going to be using glass bottles. The cork will pop out rather than having the bottle explode from too much CO2 pressure.
      I DON"T mean bail top bottles. Those things scare me for making booch.

      A couple ounces of pineapple juice with your second fermentation will give you a very robust fermentation.

      I use plastic pop bottles for my second ferment and have been doing so for years. Despite people saying not to. When the bottle has gotten nice and hard from the pressure I can refrigerate it.

      And happy days to you!
      Brewing booch isn't complicated. It's fun.
      I will be more than pleased to answer any questions you might have.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sparklebright

        OK, I'm loving your advice, and very much appreciative. Is there a way that I can do this with some more natural form of sugar? Agave? cane? maple?

        seems effed up if I can't at least avoid the white sugar, but even piece of advice I get.....they say white s. is crucial.

        Is this something i experiment with, in separate bathes?
        btw- it's green tea or go home. I always like the commercial greens best so...just going with my fave.

        1. re: LBeth

          Having tried making kombucha with brown sugar I can only share that it tastes like Cr**
          You could use maple syrup if you really wanted to, just don't expect it to enhance the taste or to taste mapley in any way. And it never would have occured to me to try maple syrup because it's already so expensive.

          As for using white sugar, the scoby in my experience, thrives best on simple white sugar. Most of the sugar is fermented out anyway, as is most of the caffeine.
          You could splurge with organic white sugar if you wanted to. I never noticed a difference.

          I would think you could make KT with almost any sugar because I think kombucha has been brewed way longer than white sugar has been available.

          And yes, unless you have access to scobys I would suggest that you keep experiments in a seperate jar. You could easily cut just a 1 inch square piece of scoby and it will grow a healthy new baby the size of whatever jar it is put in.

          There was a time you could grow your own scoby from a bottle of the commercially available kombucha but I don't know if this is still true since they had to readjust their recipe regarding alcohol and food legislation.

        1. re: todao

          Its no more dangerous than any other food handling- proper food safety, cleanliness and common sense have to be practiced.

        2. I've made kombucha countless times, and my advice is not to sweat it. Keep your tools clean, use sweetened tea (no artificial sweeteners), and it's almost impossible to screw up. Some will say you can't use herbal tea, but experience shows me that's not true. You can also use unrefined sugar if you'd prefer.

          1. i used to make kombucha all the time, but was never satisfied with the taste. i finally figured out that my ambient temperature was too low: i have a very cool kitchen. great for cooking some things, not so great for proofing bread and making kombucha! anyway, you want an environment which has a stable temp, and slightly warm.

            3 Replies
            1. re: rmarisco

              Top of the fridge is good if you don't have an energy efficient one.
              Personally I have a wooden box that I put a 40 watt light bulb in. Temp is around 90 all the time.
              I call it my Brewbox.

              It's also useful for drying a few slices worth of bread crumbs and keeping my coconut oil from solidifying. Even warming honey so I can pour it out of the big tub.
              I even keep my butter in a closed dish on the cool side of it so it stays soft enough to spread.

              Even a decent drying cupboard if the towels didn't get completely dry in the dryer.

              1. re: Sparklebright

                hey Sparklebright....might u hve any flavoring concoctions ...during the 2nd frementation in bottles? I've tried lots and always come back to slivered ginger and blueberries. Do you have a great combo you could share? I'm trying maple syrup as we speak.

                1. re: hetook

                  My favorites are mango strawberry. Both of which I thaw before adding.

                  An ounce of pineapple juice added to the bottle is awesome.

                  Also when I find black currant concentrate in the store. Yum!
                  It's made somewhere in Europe and comes in a glass bottle about a liter in size.

                  Have also enjoyed adding bottled blueberry juice.
                  I want to try adding some elder flowers if I ever order them from Mountain Rose Herbs again.

                  Good luck with the maple syrup.