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Kombucha Makers Unite; Where to ask and be answered

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If you have a healthy looking scoby (whitish and thick, like a rubbery disk) I wouldn't bother to make a new one. I find the recipes often have way more sugar than needed. The sweeter the tea the longer it takes to eat it all up! FWIW I use one cup of sugar in about two-1/2 gallons of strong tea. I let it brew for at least a couple weeks, more like a month in the winter.

 

If your scoby doesn't seem healthy. though, go ahead and start a new one. easy peasy.  :) I've had great luck using the GTs plain for this.

 

Missmary, thanks for this post - I watch sugars & didn't know if cutting back on the sugar from the recipe my friend passed to me (along with her gift scoby) would mess with the "science" of it.  YAY, thanks for paving the kombucha path!

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Sounds like I'm in good company... I was brewing for quite a while, then we went on an extended trip over the winter and came back to a molded scoby. I tried to grow another right away, but it was far too cold here and decided to wait until warmer weather came round. Well, I've just put a healthy little baby into the second batch of feeding liquid and will be set to brew here soon! I was using a Suntea glass container to continuous brew, but picked up a beautiful (huge!) crock at a thrift shop that will hold much more. I also switched from using old KT bottles (I have the hardest time getting the lids off after 2F) to the stopper-style bottles (Grolsch?).

 

Question for those also continuous brewing: I've always made a large batch of sweet tea concentrate, kept it in the fridge, and added some + water to replace what I draw off. It seems faster and easier, but I wonder if there is a difference in taste with properly brewed tea? I like what I make most of the time, but some days it seems weakly flavored but acidic, if that makes sense. I'd appreciate any ideas!

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Question for those also continuous brewing: I've always made a large batch of sweet tea concentrate, kept it in the fridge, and added some + water to replace what I draw off. 

I would not do this. Kombucha is a culture that keeps tea too acidic to grow mold and bacteria. Sweet tea concentrate kept separate from the Kombucha scoby would not have this advantage and it would spoil.

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Hi Guys,

 

I just started my first ever Kombucha brew this morning. I am a little concerned about the whole starter tea situation though so would like some advice.

 

I purchased my SCOBY off ebay which came with in a small amount (probably 100ml or less) of starter tea.

 

Not being the most patient person I wanted to start big with my gallon sized glass container. I boiled a gallon of water, added 1 cup of white sugar and 8 black tea bags and let it sit overnight. This morning I transferred it into my glass container added the scoby and starter tea. Now I knew this wasn't enough starter tea so did a quick google and found I could use apple cider vinegar to top it up. What I couldn't confirm was how much to add. Some guides seem to use a 1:1 ratio (something like 2 cups of starter/ACV mix) where as others called upon a tablespoon per litre. Now obviously this is a big difference. In the end I put in 3 tablespoons of ACV as well as the 100ml of starter tea covered it up and put it in the cupboard.

 

I'm now concerned that I may not have added enough ACV and I really don't want to ruin my one and only scoby so I'm hoping you guys can either put my fears to rest or tell me how to hopefully fix it tonight.

 

Thanks in advance.

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You can buy a bottle of GT's Original kombucha, the plain unflavored kind, and add that instead of more ACV.

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You can buy a bottle of GT's Original kombucha, the plain unflavored kind, and add that instead of more ACV.

Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately bottled Kombucha will be a little hard for me to track down here in Sydney before the weekend. I could get to the supermarket and get distilled white vinegar if that's any better than ACV. So am I correct in presuming that you don't think I've got enough acid in the mix?

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I would not do this. Kombucha is a culture that keeps tea too acidic to grow mold and bacteria. Sweet tea concentrate kept separate from the Kombucha scoby would not have this advantage and it would spoil.

Do you think it would go bad that fast? It's only in the fridge up to 2 weeks and the sugar content is so high that I think it would hold it. It's the method I first found for CB, from Weston Price, which seems sound.

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Do you think it would go bad that fast? It's only in the fridge up to 2 weeks 

 

This is important information! I thought you were keeping it there indefinitely, just topping it off with more tea. I wouldn't keep it any longer than 2 weeks, but 2 weeks might be ok.

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Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately bottled Kombucha will be a little hard for me to track down here in Sydney before the weekend. I could get to the supermarket and get distilled white vinegar if that's any better than ACV. So am I correct in presuming that you don't think I've got enough acid in the mix?

 

Apple cider vinegar (the live culture kind) is what you want, not distilled white vinegar, and not too much of that. I think you are ok with what you have...wait and see if a baby scoby grows (a thin film will form on the top of the liquid), then you will know it is working.

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Okay. I've heard of kombucha, but never bothered to try it or anything. I've done water kefir before, but that was because it was so easy - add sugar to water, drop in grains, wait three days, filter, mix juice, wait two days, drink. Easy.

 

But. BUT. Just found out that a new friend here (I moved to Korea 2-ish months ago) makes her own kombucha. She gave me a little bottle to try. It's lightly fizzy, and kind of lovely. I want to do it. I have NO IDEA what I'm doing, or if it's worth it. Or if it's time consuming. I should've been more careful when I poured some for myself tonight, because the little baby SCOBY ended up in my glass and I've drank it. Oh well, it was lovely mixed with cranberry juice. Who needs wine?

 

She's offered me a SCOBY and...I want to. But...BUT...I'm scared. I work full time. I live in Korea, where electricity is so expensive that I don't leave my A/C on when I'm out of the house or at night (so far). I don't know how long I'd need to do any of this...and I kind of want one of you expert-sounding people, in your 60 page thread, to reassure me. I have half gallon mason jars and a plastic strainer, but I would have to pick up some grolsch-type jars to put it in.

 

Aargh. I'm sure it's great for me. I just...am not sure. Any ideas from you all?

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Okay. I've heard of kombucha, but never bothered to try it or anything. I've done water kefir before, but that was because it was so easy - add sugar to water, drop in grains, wait three days, filter, mix juice, wait two days, drink. Easy.

 

Oh MrsStick! You are in for a treat. 

 

I have done water kefir, and I stopped.The grains were always wanting to be fed, but I didn't like the water kefir that much so I couldn't finish it before the next batch, so it multiplied. It was madness.

 

Kombucha is equally easy, really, and more forgiving on the timing. Admittedly, I do like it pretty unsweet. But I've found I can leave the first ferment for a week or two or three weeks if I get busy and it really doesn't hurt it. If it gets too sour, I'm generous with fruit juice on the second ferment. I've even been too lazy to bottle it after the second ferment and left it out on the counter all week (taking some off each day as I wanted it) and it was fine! It formed a new scoby on top of the fruit, but otherwise fine.  ;)  :)

 

Kombucha is a "relax and be patient" sort of endeavor. It's only hard if either of those things are hard for you  :P

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But. BUT. Just found out that a new friend here (I moved to Korea 2-ish months ago) makes her own kombucha. She gave me a little bottle to try. It's lightly fizzy, and kind of lovely. I want to do it. I have NO IDEA what I'm doing, or if it's worth it. Or if it's time consuming.

 

It is lovely and well worth the little effort! You mentioned the AC. If your house is particularly warm, you might find it ferments even a little faster than some people here. It's pretty cold where I live, so I went to a continuous brewing process to minimize the wait as getting it as sour as I like it was taking quite a while. It doesn't take a lot of supplies: a large jar, strainer, tea, sugar and the baby your friend kindly offered. If you batch brew, grolsch bottles (or other recycled bottles with airtight lids) will help you get the fizz in the second ferment. I use a jar with a spigot and we also like it poured straight into a glass. Even if you try it and decide it's not for you, not a lot to lose :)

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Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately bottled Kombucha will be a little hard for me to track down here in Sydney before the weekend. I could get to the supermarket and get distilled white vinegar if that's any better than ACV. So am I correct in presuming that you don't think I've got enough acid in the mix?

 

Whereabouts in Sydney are you? I'm sitting at my desk with a bottle of kombucha that I bought on the way from the station to the office in North Sydney, and I can name at least two other shops here that sell it, as well as the About Life chain in Cammeray, Rozelle and Bondi.

 

I also had my 'booch baby delivered today to try making my own (I'm considerably more excited about this than my flatmate is...).

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Awesome, Lady M! I found a post on one of the big kombucha supply websites recommending keeping a scoby in the fridge. I was going to send to you but I figured you'd find out soon enough!

I'm going to start. ðŸ˜

I've been reading, hemming and hawing and trying to decide if I'm going to do CB or batch. I didn't want to spend $ now to spend more later. I finally settled on doing a siphon CB--came to me in a fever dream--joking--and then I saw other ppl do it. Anyway. Now I don't have to mess around with a metal or plastic spigot or a gunked up spigot and I can buy a $5 beer brewing siphon when I'm ready to CB.

I have a bottle of plain GT's in the fridge waiting for my vessel.

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Whereabouts in Sydney are you? I'm sitting at my desk with a bottle of kombucha that I bought on the way from the station to the office in North Sydney, and I can name at least two other shops here that sell it, as well as the About Life chain in Cammeray, Rozelle and Bondi.

 

I also had my 'booch baby delivered today to try making my own (I'm considerably more excited about this than my flatmate is...).

 

I'm in Cronulla, I'm pretty sure the local health food store sells kombucha (not sure about plain/raw variety) but the main issue was I wouldn't have been home in time before closing to get some. 

 

Not to worry though I ended up with a weird ACV/White vinegar/Starter tea mix and after 5 days of brewing I have a definite white layer formed over the top of the liquid and no obvious signs of colored mold which I presume is a good sign that my brew is going to plan! I've never tasted kombucha before so taste wise I won't have anything to compare it to but if it comes out anything like a bubbly apple cider I would usually buy from the pub I'll be most happy.

 

Should have 3+ litres by the end of it, only read after starting this that you're meant to start slowly with the amount you drink so it could last me a while :)

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Thanks for all the encouragement, folks! I took the last few days to read the thread (yes, ALL of it) and glean as much as I could from your expertise. My questions after all that:

 

I have half gallon mason jars. Is that too small? I can justify getting bottles to put the flavored booch in for its 2F, but not sure getting bigger mason jars will fly with the hubster.

 

How much flavoring do you guys put in? I have a feeling that I'll do a lot of juices, since it sounds simple. But if I were to try, say, a melon-mint one, how much melon/mint?

 

I'll see the friend tonight to be able to tell her I will want a scoby. I know that she offered to teach me the wild ways of brewing, but some of your ideas sound awesome and I'd like to know for when I'm confident enough to experiment.

 

Thank you!

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MrsStick, you are in for the ride of your life.  Okay, that may be an exaggeration  :P .  I was anxious when I first started last summer, but not anymore.

 

1/2 gallon mason jars should be fine and they take less room on the counter.

 

There is tons of information on the interwebs about second fermenting.

 

The easiest way I've found, with the most dramatic  B)  results is adding one tablespoon of hibiscus tea (I find it here in bulk at the coop, maybe your friend knows where you can get some) to 32 oz which is a quart, so I would add two tablespoons to 1/2 gallon which is 64 oz.  It gives the buch a beautiful dark rosy red hue, lots of tiny bubbles (be careful to "burp" your bottles daily during the second ferment process) that will make a mess if you're not careful and a really nice flavor.  Also, I would imagine that one reaps the benefits of the high vitamin C content of the hibiscus.

 

I also flavor with fresh ginger, which I love, it's just not a fizzy as the hibiscus.  I could probably add sugar for fizz, but haven't worked that out yet.  I add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of minced ginger to 64 oz, it's going to blow your mind how delicious it is!

 

Happy brewing!

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I am very new to this and I am hoping to start continuous brewing. I have a few questions. 

 

1) I know that the shorter the fermentation time the sweeter the flavor, however, I haven't found anywhere where it talks about whether any of the beneficial effects of consuming kombucha will be lost if you don't let it ferment long enough. Is there a minimum?

 

2) If I were to CB and remove some kombucha to bottle for a 2nd fermentation once a week what percentage of the brew should I remove each time? If I don't use enough of it each week will there be an issue or do I just need to replace what I took?

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One other question - I saw a lot of people talking earlier in the thread about adding honey to second ferments to help the fizz. Honey (at least raw) has antibacterial qualities - wouldn't that harm the kombucha instead of help it be better for you?

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One other question - I saw a lot of people talking earlier in the thread about adding honey to second ferments to help the fizz. Honey (at least raw) has antibacterial qualities - wouldn't that harm the kombucha instead of help it be better for you?

 

Never use honey in Kombucha. It will kill a scoby. scobys like sugar. Sorry I didn't notice that conversation elsewhere in this thread...only 60 pages/1195 posts. I should have caught it.  :P

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I certainly would NOT use honey in my first ferment, but would definitely be willing to experiment with the second.  " If you aren't adding much fruit but still want more carbonation you can add a bit of sugar or honey. The culture will feed off of the sugar in the sugar, honey, or fruit, and produce the gas necessary to create carbonation."  http://www.nourishingdays.com/2013/03/making-fizzy-fruity-kombucha-the-second-fermentation/

 

2) If I were to CB and remove some kombucha to bottle for a 2nd fermentation once a week what percentage of the brew should I remove each time? If I don't use enough of it each week will there be an issue or do I just need to replace what I took?

 

In order to keep things simple I let my continuous brew "finish", decant the bulk of it and replace the same or similar amount with sweet tea. When I say the bulk of it, I make sure and leave about two cups of the fermented buch per gallon for what I call my starter fluid.  I've read where brewers draw off their daily dose and replace the same amount with sweet tea, but the Healthy Home Economist is very emphatic about not letting the sweet tea sit around AT ALL.  So to me that would be too much tea making and cooling, so I do it about once a week.

 

So say you're decanting a gallon, but you only drink 3 quarts before it's time to decant again.  I do believe kombucha keeps well in the refrigerator for drinking at a later date or to share with friends.

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I've just started my first batch! Very excited. And really hope I can get through 3 litres before the next batch is done! How long will the second ferment keep for? Obviously if you can buy it commercially, it must be shelf stable so it doesn't explode in the bottles...

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Obviously if you can buy it commercially, it must be shelf stable so it doesn't explode in the bottles...

 

There actually was an issue with this in the US for a while, as one brand (GTs) was fermenting so much post-bottling that it became alcoholic! I find my homebrew keeps pretty much indefinitely once refrigerated. Left sitting out it will become too sour to drink after a while but I have not found that to be true in the fridge.

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