KOMBUCHA BREWING FAQ

KOMBUCHA + SCOBY BASICS

A. Kombucha is a fermented beverage made using tea and a kombucha starter culture (mushroom, mother, scoby, etc.), tea prepared with sugar, vinegar and some kombucha tea from a previous batch (starter tea). Kombucha contains several vitamins, particularly B vitamins.

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A. Kombucha tea has a rich, earthy flavour, which can vary greatly depending on the length of time it ferments, 7-30+ days.

Think of it like eating yoghurt that can be kept on the shelf. To remove or destroy all of the microorganisms that make your fermented beverage alive, defeats the purpose.

  • For a mild flavour, brew the kombucha for a shorter time.
  • For a bolder, more vinegary flavour, brew the kombucha for a longer time

A. Our kombucha scoby culture kits are grown and packaged in a licensed commercial food processing facility using filtered water, organic sugar, and organic black tea.

A. No, our kombucha cultures only contain organic black tea, organic sugar, and filtered water.

A. Yes, with proper care kombucha cultures can be reused many times. The cultures will multiply, and as a practical matter - you can recycle or compost older cultures after a few months.

MAKING HOMEMADE KOMBUCHA

A. Yes, experimenting with the type of tea, fermentation time, and flavour additives (fruit, juice, ginger, etc.) you can invent your own kombucha tea flavours, or you can try to replicate a commercial flavour. Learn more about Flavouring and Bottling Kombucha here.

A. Making kombucha doesn't require anything too fancy. You may consider using a DIY Kombucha Culture Kit for brewing which includes everything you need to get started. Glass is the most popular choice for brewing kombucha while most utensils are simple.

A. We have made it simple to start your first brew by offering our Signature Tea Blend available online. When deciding on what water to use the main consideration is hygiene. We advise using Reverse Osmosis or filtered water for your fermentation. If you have a reputable source of spring water, that can work well too. Sugars will come down to experimentation and what you want to train your culture to digest, as a rule of thumb simple sugars such as cane or white sugar are going to give consistent and speedy ferments. Avoid heavy and complex sugars such as honey or molasses, as they will be difficult for the culture to ferment.

A. Making kombucha tea at home involves making tea, adding a starter culture (SCOBY) and letting it culture in a warm spot for 7-30 days. You can take precise measurements as part of Advanced Brewing Methods recording pH, Brix and more, though these are not necessary to get started.

A. Kombucha can be brewed from 7 to 30 days, depending on personal preference. A longer brewing time results in less sugar and a more vinegary-flavoured beverage. Keep in mind that temperature will play a role in how quickly the kombucha cultures.

A. We strongly recommend following the instructions included in our DIY Kombucha Culture Kit. The recipe was designed to encourage a proper balance, which discourages the growth of mold and the spoiling of the batch. It also helps ensure the SCOBY gets enough food to culture properly.

A. We recommend glass containers when working with starter cultures, because of the potential of plastic to leach undesirable chemicals. Additionally, plastic is more easily damaged, often without your knowledge, which can result in hidden bacteria that may disrupt the culturing process.

A. Brewing kombucha tea in a cupboard is perfectly fine. However, do not put kombucha tea in sunlight. It is important to keep fermenting kombucha out of direct sunlight and away from excessive heat or cold. It is also important to keep ferments separate to avoid cross-propagation.

A. Yes, you can use an equal portion of strong brewed kombucha in place of scoby.

A. A few good signs the kombucha fermentation process is proceeding normally includes; the formation of a new kombucha culture over the opening of the brewing container, development of brown stringy yeast particles, and the liquid becoming less sweet and more vinegar-like.

A. We suggest keeping a distance of at least 1 metre between items. When your cultured items are being stored in the refrigerator with tight-fitting lids, there is no need to keep distance between them.

A. Click here to purchase a DIY Kombucha Culture Kit with instructions.

CARING FOR YOUR SCOBY

A. Kombucha tea cultures multiply. Each time you brew a batch of Kombucha tea a new starter culture will form. The original starter culture ("the mother") and the new starter culture ("the baby") can each be used to brew a new batch of kombucha tea.

Note: It may take several batches for a baby to form after initial rehydration.

A. Yes. The cloudy white layer is the beginning of a SCOBY kombucha culture. The formation of a new culture is one sign that your batch of kombucha is fermenting properly.

A. The brown stringy particles are yeast particles and are harmless. They are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. You can strain them out of the finished kombucha if desired. The yeasts are responsible for the breakdown of sugar in your kombucha.

A. Having the SCOBY kombucha culture detach from the container opening does not affect the fermentation process.

A. The jelly-like mass is the beginning of a SCOBY kombucha culture. Even after the main kombucha culture is removed, the kombucha remains full of living yeast and bacteria which continue to ferment slowly on their own. As a result, idle kombucha will eventually form a new baby culture.

A. Kombucha cultures will work just fine even with holes or if they have been torn in half.

A. No, even a small kombucha culture will effectively ferment a full gallon of kombucha. We recommend using a culture or a piece of a culture. The culture should be at least 8 centimetres in diameter.

A. In small quantities SCOBYs can be composted, if you do this regularly you won’t end up with too much. If you have the time, cut/shred the SCOBY into smaller pieces for better breakdown.

FLAVOURING, BOTTLING, AND SECOND FERMENTATION

A. There are lots of ways to flavour kombucha tea! In our how-to video on Flavouring and Bottling Kombucha we show you how to flavour and bottle your homemade kombucha tea, plus include our favourite kombucha flavour ideas!

A. For a second fermentation, a ratio of 20% juice and 80% kombucha generally works well. You can also experiment with other ratios to change the flavour.

A. Bottling kombucha in an airtight bottle helps to increase carbonation. Learn more about Flavouring and Bottling Kombucha .

A. While it is possible for bottles to explode, it is more common for lids to fly off, particularly when being opened. We recommend keeping your whole hand over the lid of the container as you open it. Check bottles for cracks or imperfections before use.

A. Click here to purchase a DIY Kombucha Culture Kit with instructions.

FINISHED KOMBUCHA

A. A longer fermentation process will reduce the amount of sugar in the finished product. At the end of a 30-day fermentation period, there is generally little sugar remaining. Begin with the required amount of sugar, to ensure that the scoby gets enough food to culture properly and ferment for longer to achieve a drier and less sweet brew.

A. Yes, as with all cultured and fermented foods, a small amount of naturally occurring alcohol is typically present in the finished product. Although the amount contained in kombucha will vary from batch to batch, the amount should be quite small.

A. Straining finished kombucha tea isn't necessary. Some people prefer to strain their kombucha tea prior to drinking it to filter out the yeast particles as well as any baby kombucha cultures which may be forming.

A. For the initial activation batch using a dehydrated culture, there may be no visible signs of culturing. The best way to check on the progress of your brew is to test aroma and flavour. However, you may notice further signs of fermentation:

  • The liquid lightens in color and turns cloudy
  • A haze or baby scoby forms on top of the liquid
  • The aroma and flavour are more vinegary and less sweet.

     

A. The best way to check on the progress of your brew is to test aroma and flavour. As it cultures, the kombucha should develop a rich, vinegary flavour and a pleasant but sour aroma.

HELP!

A. Yes. The cloudy white layer is the beginning of a new baby kombucha culture. The formation of a new culture is a sign that your batch of kombucha is fermenting properly.

A. The brown stringy particles are yeast particles and are harmless. They are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. You can strain them out of the finished kombucha if desired.

A. Depending on a number of factors, the culture may sink, float, or sit sideways. Any of these is normal and will not effect the brewing process.

A. Having the SCOBY culture detach from the container opening is common if the jar is bumped or moved. It does not affect the fermentation process.

A. The jelly-type mass is the beginning of a new SCOBY kombucha culture. Even after the main kombucha culture is removed, the kombucha remains full of living yeast and bacteria which continue to ferment slowly on their own. Consequently idle kombucha will eventually form a new baby culture.

A. Kombucha cultures will work just fine even with holes or if they have been torn in half.

A. No, even a small kombucha culture will effectively ferment a full gallon of kombucha. We do recommend using a culture that is at least 8 centimeters in diameter.

A. Once mold has developed, it is very important to discard the whole batch, including the kombucha scoby. Please contact Customer Support here if mold develops.

A. A black scoby is a sign of a kombucha culture that has been contaminated or is worn out. It takes a long time and many batches before a scoby is worn out. Turning black is not to be confused with developing brown or slightly discolored patches. Yeast build-up will result in brown spots or stringy particles attaching to the scoby and is a normal byproduct of the fermentation process. If your kombucha culture turns black, it should be discarded or composted.

A. Best practice is to toss it, no attempts to salvage should be made. To prevent pests, always cover the fermenting vessel with some kind of lid. A clean cotton cloth or coffee filter secured tightly with a rubber band is enough to keep flies out. Always keep 1 meter of distance from contaminant sources (garbage, compost, cat box, house plants, etc.), remember that fermentations breathe the air around, so a clean hygienic room should be a standard.