Archive for the 'Kombucha' Category

3 Signs That Kombucha Fermentation Is Going Well

A brief final word on brewing your own kombucha, for those of your who have embarked upon making your own but need some reassurance that it’s going as expected.  Here are a few signs that kombucha fermentation is going well:

  • A new SCOBY “daughter” is growing on the top as a smooth film. After 2 or 3 batches, she’s ready to be separated from the “mother” and used to make new kombucha. Keep the daughter as a backup (she can be stored in the refrigerator, covered in ½ cup of kombucha) or give her to a friend.
  • Nothing that looks like bread mold is growing on the surface. (NEVER SMELL ANY MOLD! All mold reproduce via microscopic spores; inhaling these can lead to a severe respiratory infection.)
  • The brew has a slight, tart vinegar aroma.

January 06 2009 | Kombucha | 2 Comments »

Kombucha Brewing Do’s and Don’ts

Some of you may be seasoned Kombucha-brewing veterans, but many of you out there have only just begun to explore the incredible process (perhaps in response to our recent posts on the topic).  To keep you out of trouble, we’ve put together the following lists of “do’s” and “don’ts” when brewing kombucha.

Kombucha Brewing Do’s:

  • Clean everything thoroughly before brewing or bottling.
  • Filter or boil your water before brewing.
  • Use refined white sugar; it is healthier for your SCOBY, and results in a more palatable tea with higher levels of the several healthful organic acids. Also, since the SCOBY consumes almost all of the sugar, there is no need to worry about the health risks associated with eating refined sugar.
  • Check the pH if you’re nervous. Kombucha generally finishes with a pH of 2.5. Anything lower than 4.6 is safe to drink, since the acidity acts as a preservative. Commercially available pH strips can be used to verify that your brew is ready.
  • Watch for mold and throw away a batch that gets moldy.

Kombucha Brewing Don’ts:

  • NEVER ferment your kombucha in a metal, plastic, or ceramic container. Finished kombucha is very acidic, and can leach toxins out of some metals, plastics, and ceramic glazes.
  • Stay away from teas flavored with oils (such as Earl Grey), as these may damage your kombucha SCOBY.
  • Don’t add flavorings — such as ginger or raisins — to the fermenting kombucha; they can damage the SCOBY or encourage mold. Add these when bottling the finished kombucha; the high acidity will preserve the fruit.

September 25 2008 | Kombucha | 4 Comments »

More Kombucha Brewing Tips

Alright, so it seems that folks have enjoyed our initial posts on kombucha (including the kombucha recipe we provided).  Because the level of interest on this topic seems high, we’ve provided some additional insights to guide you in making your own kombucha below:

  • The ideal temperature range for brewing kombucha is 74 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. While the yeast can thrive below 70 degrees, the acetobacter cannot, and undesirable microbes might take hold. Temperatures warmer than 84 degrees will kill the SCOBY. In general, low-temperature fermentation takes longer and produces a lighter brew, while high temperature fermentation goes faster and produces a darker brew with a more powerful flavor.
  • Your SCOBY might float to the top of the solution, stay the middle, sink to the bottom, or slowly move from one level to another; all are normal, resulting in good, healthful kombucha.
  • Allow the fresh kombucha to “rest” in the refrigerator for a day or two — a process wine brewers call “cold stabilization.” This reduces the acidic bite and allows insolubles to settle out. The result is a clearer brew with a more subtle, complex flavor.
  • Store your SCOBY covered in kombucha (at least ½ cup). It can be stored either in the warm, dark place where you ferment your kombucha, or in the refrigerator — just be sure and check it frequently, to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Although a SCOBY can be frozen (again, making sure it is completely covered in kombucha), doing so runs the risk of killing the SCOBY.
  • Over a few dozen batches, your SCOBY will get old and exhausted. A ragged, dark brown SCOBY is ready to be retired (throw it away, compost it, or feed it to your dog), and replaced with one of your backup “daughters.”

August 19 2008 | Kombucha | 2 Comments »

So You Wanna Make Kombucha? Here’s a Recipe!

After our last post on Kombucha, we got a lot more response from our customers than we expected. Seems as though many of you are already devoted converts! Although there are more and more brands of bottled kombucha available on the shelves of your local natural foods store every day, some of you expressed interest in making kombucha at home. Being the helpful sort of folks that we are, we thought you might get some use out of a recipe.

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June 29 2008 | Kombucha and Tea Fun | 8 Comments »

Kombucha: Giving Fungus and Bacteria a Good Name!

KombuchaOver the years, we’ve seen interest in Kombucha grow remarkably, so we thought to ourselves, “boy, our customers need to hear about this stuff!” Kombucha (occasionally called “kvass” or “Russian mushroom tea”) is a highly sweetened probiotic tea fermented using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (or “SCOBY”). This kombucha “mushroom” (also called a “Russian tea mushroom”) is a pale, rubbery zoogleal mat of yeast and acetobacters. The yeast break the sugar’s sucrose into fructose and glucose, then converts the glucose into alcohol. The several species of acetobacter, in turn, convert this alcohol into acetic acid (i.e., vinegar) and gluconic acid. The gluconic acid smoothes the finish of the acetic acid, suppressing much of the vinegar’s harshness. The result is a sweet, tangy, fizzy, lightly caffeinated beverage with almost no alcohol (generally less than .5 percent), and measurable amounts of L-theanine, an amino acid found in all brewed teas and shown to reduce mental and physical stress.

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May 28 2008 | Kombucha and Tea Fun | 6 Comments »