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Questions about making Kombucha  RSS feed

 
Chris Sturgeon
Posts: 91
Location: Yukon Territory, Canada. Zone 1a
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Hey Permies!

I'm making my first batch of kombucha tea and I just want to make sure I'm doing it right.
So far I've created a stronger acid tea, for the scoby to float in, by brewing a liter of black Pu'er tea and 75ml of active apple cider vinegar.
(I was told this slightly more acidic starter will protect the scoby from any degradation it may have suffered in being transfered from it's original owner's house to mine [different tea, ambient moulds and/or yeasts, etc]. It makes the first batch a bit AC vinegary, but is not nessesary from there on.)
I added about 75ml of brown sugar and let the tea drop to room temp before pouring it over the scoby.
The whole shebang is coated in 3 layers of sheer muslin and kept tight with a rubber band.

That was 5 days ago and two positive things have happened: (1)The scoby floated to the surface and (2) the entire surface of the container seems to be veiled in a thin layer of scoby

Now the questions:

1) I keep my house very cool (about 15c) is that too cool to get a good "ferment"?
2) Am I adding enough sugar, and will brown sugar work as well as refined?
3) I have a cat, and a cat box. It's not in the same room, but will the micro-floura effect the taste of the brew?
3) How long should I store the kombucha to get a good fizz, and at what temperature?
4) Anybody know how to deter a taby-cat with a muslin chewing fetish? His name is Capt. Kirk... but we call him the Curtain-ater.
 
Jeff Wesolowski
Posts: 40
Location: nw ohio
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The gold standard for amount of sugar per gallon is one cup. I like use cane sugar for making kombucha and would other sugars for batches just to drink and not for adding to my mother. I have no experience making it around 60 degrees so I can help you there, I think it would work but just take longer. For me, getting kombucha to fizz is just using a container that seals and keeps the gases in, I need to experiment with that one cause containers that have lids that screw on are just hit or miss for that carbonated touch. I don't have cats but maybe if you put something very uncomfortable for your cat to walk might keep him off your counter might work, like jacks. I like this website for people I give mothers too for a reference.

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/make-kombucha
 
Chris Sturgeon
Posts: 91
Location: Yukon Territory, Canada. Zone 1a
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Thanks for the reply, Jeff.

Ok so, 250ml sugar per 3.8 liters it is!
That's a 1:15 ratio... to leave all the metric/imperial nonsense out of it. (I'm assuming you mean a US gallon, not a British.)

I think I'll keep on with the brown sugar for the sake of the slightly higher nutrient value. It's definitely producing a darker product!

Good advice about the jacks. I didn't have any of those, so I've just sprinkled a bit of ground chili around the bowl. Let's see how spicy this cat likes his food!

Thanks for the website link! I will go read it now.


EDIT:
Great info on that website. They don't recommend brown sugar very highly at all, so I'll pick-up some organic cane sugar (as you suggested, Jeff.) next time I'm at the right store.
As the brew gets stronger I may try inoculating the different generations of daughters with more and more Birch Syrup as it's a locally made product here. Maybe I can selectively breed for a tolerance to this kind of sugar. I'll be sure to watch the PH levels.
 
Vicki Boliard
Posts: 10
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Your kombucha will grow in a cooler house but it will be slower. Once the weather warms up your brew will go faster. I know I gave up on a couple different starter batches because I didn't think they were working. I put them in my warm laundry room and now they are growing strong.Check out www.getkombucha.com he's very informative and energetic. Fun to watch his movies.
 
Meghan Orbek
Posts: 52
Location: Yonkers, NY/ Berkshires, MA USA
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Since the scoby metabolizes the sugar, maybe don't worry too much about trying to replace it with a less refined sweetener. I use white sugar because it makes my mothers happy. They convert it into magical kombucha anyway- it's not like YOU will be drinking white sugar. Then, when you bottle condition it (for fizz/aging) and the scoby is thus removed you can add whatever sweetener you'd like- honey, tree syrup, fruit syrup, brown sugar, etc to balance out the flavor.
 
Amos Burkey
Posts: 101
Location: Nebraska
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Brown sugar may contain some substances that are harmful to the SCOBY. I read this somewhere, though I cannot seem to find it at the moment. I prefer to use an organic white cane sugar.

Here is a link to a sight that contains a wealth of kombucha knowledge. The owner of the sight is also very helpful and dispenses the information freely. Kombucha link
Enjoy!
 
Ivan Parfem
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I have never tired it, but I will
 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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I like to let mine get really strong, so I let it sit for a long time. It's usually pretty fizzy, and I don't bottle it. Usually after not touching it for a week or two, I notice that the mother clings to the sides of the jar, sealing the liquid in.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
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I think that I have read that brown sugar, by law, is just white cane granulated sugar with brown coloring sprayed on it, which wouldn't make me recommend it.
I stopped making kombucha when I became concerned that the amount of sugar may be making my glycemic numbers worse.
John S
PDX OR
 
Joanne McCartney
Posts: 30
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Brown sugar is white cane sugar with the original molasses still on it. (Sort of a simplistic explanation, but you get the picture.) Sometimes producers of beet sugar spray molasses on it to make brown sugar.

I'm new to kombucha (haven't made any yet) so I don't have a clue whether brown sugar would work or not. Chris, I would be curious to know how it worked out. If it does ferment ok, I bet it would have a good flavor.
 
Vida Norris
Posts: 114
Location: Ontario Canada, Zone 5b
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Interesting thread. I've been making kombucha at home for a almost two years now and I usually use the following ratios with consistent success. I usually make a bit more for myself to drink since I've found it really helpful. But this is my sort of base ratio and I just double it etc if I want more.

3 Gallons water
1 Cup Sugar ( I use organic white cane)
4 bags plain black tea (orange pekoe, english breakfast etc) (I don't use organic tea, haven't experimented with that yet since I have heard that it can mold a bit faster)

I boil the water and once it has started to bubble I add in the sugar and boil for 5 more minutes.
After 5 minutes I take the pot off the stove and steep the 4 tea bags for 10 minutes. (keep away from food/dirty dishes while it cools and when you make it as well)
Wait until it is room temperature and then add your scoby and a bit of the juice from either your starter or an older batch.

I usually use a clean piece of linen/fabric like an old pillowcase or hanky and elastic it around the top of the mason jar I am using. (plastic and metals aren't really good for kombucha to come into contact with)

I let it steep for a minimum of 7 days. I don't like to leave it too much longer than that because it becomes way too vinegary to drink after about 10 days. I keep it in a dark, quiet place.

I have found that if I want it to be really bubbly and strong, I put a smaller amount of the tea into the container. If I want it to be a bit weaker, use more in the container.

Supposedly honey is very bad to use in kombucha in place of sugar so I've stayed away from that. I have had to use brown sugar on occasion when I ran out of white and it has worked just fine.

Also, I usually drink it on an empty stomach and wait 20 minutes before eating, so I get the full benefit of the drink, or I eat it with food to aid in digestion. Okay kombucha rant over!
 
Joanne McCartney
Posts: 30
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I haven't gotten around to ordering a Scoby yet because it's been so darn hot around here lately and I worry the heat might get to it before it gets here. But I had about 1/3 of a bottle of a flavored organic store bought bottle of kombucha so I put that in a mason jar with some black tea and sugar and put cheesecloth over the top. I put it in the pantry about a week ago and I'm now noticing some foam on top. So maybe it's growing a Scoby? What do you think?
 
Joanne McCartney
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I hatched my own Scoby! I made the tea and added sugar. (I forget the exact amounts but I used a quart size jar. Then I added about 1/3 of a bottle of MTS Gingeraid Kombucha. I know you're supposed to use the unflavored but at least this was "raw" and it's all I had sitting around. I put a couple layers of cheesecloth over the top and secured with a rubberband. That was on July 24. At first it didn't do much, but then slowly it began to start a layer and the get more solid. It's kind of lumpy looking and has some brown spots but seems pretty well formed. I didn't taste it until today and it was very vinegary, not really drinkable. But I added most of it to the new batch. I got a 1 gallon jar for this one. It's pretty warm in the house lately because it's summer here. It's about 27 to 28 during much of the day. I'm so excited about the scoby from store bought Kombucha. I didn't really think it would work.

My second 2 gallon batch of sauerkraut fermented to quite sour in 8 days with this warm weather. It tastes great. I'm going to let it keep fermenting for a while and eat from the crock. I want to see how far it can go and still taste good.
 
Amos Burkey
Posts: 101
Location: Nebraska
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Very nice Joanne! That has been my experience too. Many of the raw kombuchas will yield a scoby, as long as the additives don't kill brew. I have had better luck with the unflavored producing a strong scoby. Often, I have trouble getting a scoby at all from them. Mainly because I drink the whole bottle.

I like to stick one of the aquarium thermometers to the side of my kombucha brewing container (2 gallon glass cookie jar). Then I know approximately what the temperature of the brew is. The ideal temperature is 75 degrees F, 24 degrees C.

Something like this, only with less fish and more kombucha.....
 
Joanne McCartney
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My first batch of kombucha was finished yesterday and I put it in bottles. It tastes wonderful, though maybe a little sweeter than the store bought stuff. I could probably have waited another day or two. And I have a nice new scoby. I threw the old one out because it wasn't as fully formed and as thick as this new one. I have another batch started now. I think it took a full week for this last batch to be ready. I'm so excited that it actually worked! Now I can keep making more.
 
Scarlet Hamilton
Posts: 28
Location: UK
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I've been making kombucha for about a year. I know scobys are great for the compost heap but I don't have the heart to throw them away. They are like my little pets that require no attention and are entertaining to watch. I've never had store bought kombucha before and have always used organic brown sugar that is vegan. I still have my original scoby plus a whole family of them in each 1 gallon jar (I have 4). The scobys like brown sugar and don't seem to have any visible health issues. Kombucha tastes great but I haven't had it from anywhere else to compare it to. Next to my jars I have a gadget with a digital thermometer, humidity and clock on it which comes in handy. I make sure to write the date of when the scoby was last fed on the jar otherwise I'd lose track because I have too many jars.
 
Joanne McCartney
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Scarlet, do you just store hem with the brown sugar and water or with tea as well? I would like to store mine and keep them as well. I did discard the first one because it wasn't very big and looked kind of lumpy.
 
Amos Burkey
Posts: 101
Location: Nebraska
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Joanne McCartney wrote:Scarlet, do you just store hem with the brown sugar and water or with tea as well? I would like to store mine and keep them as well. I did discard the first one because it wasn't very big and looked kind of lumpy.


You can store your SCOBY for 4-6 weeks at a time by placing it in a fresh sugar/tea solution. You can then replace about 80% of the liquid with new sugar/tea solution and go another 4-6 weeks.

If you have more than 2 extra SCOBY's, share with a friend or neighbor. Kombucha for everyone!
 
Amos Burkey
Posts: 101
Location: Nebraska
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Scarlet Hamilton wrote:
.... I've never had store bought kombucha before and have always used organic brown sugar that is vegan. ....


The molasses in brown sugar is difficult for the SCOBY to digest. Some recommend boiling the brown sugar to break it down. It is recommended to use an organic white sugar for the benefit of your SCOBY.
 
Vida Norris
Posts: 114
Location: Ontario Canada, Zone 5b
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Awesome - glad you could get it started Joanne!

I like your idea Scarlet of using a label to let you know when it's time to change over. In the beginning I was doing it really consistently every 7 days and over time I lapsed into this forgetfulness and my poor little scobys started piling up on each other I think I'll start using that.
 
Joanne McCartney
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Amos Burkey wrote:
Joanne McCartney wrote:Scarlet, do you just store hem with the brown sugar and water or with tea as well? I would like to store mine and keep them as well. I did discard the first one because it wasn't very big and looked kind of lumpy.


You can store your SCOBY for 4-6 weeks at a time by placing it in a fresh sugar/tea solution. You can then replace about 80% of the liquid with new sugar/tea solution and go another 4-6 weeks.

If you have more than 2 extra SCOBY's, share with a friend or neighbor. Kombucha for everyone!


Most of my friends think both the scoby an I are very strange and they think I will die of botulism any day now.
 
Scarlet Hamilton
Posts: 28
Location: UK
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I've always used the same tea with brown sugar. Clipper organic regular black tea.

My scobys look a bit lumpy and bumpy when they stick out above the liquid. I've never thrown one of these out. I think leaving a bigger space of air at the top of the jar might make it not be lumpy. Naughty scobys like to stick out lol.

If you're scoby wasn't very big maybe it didn't have the right conditions for long enough to eat and get big?
 
Scarlet Hamilton
Posts: 28
Location: UK
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Amos Burkey wrote:
Scarlet Hamilton wrote:
.... I've never had store bought kombucha before and have always used organic brown sugar that is vegan. ....


The molasses in brown sugar is difficult for the SCOBY to digest. Some recommend boiling the brown sugar to break it down. It is recommended to use an organic white sugar for the benefit of your SCOBY.



I'll try a batch where the sugar is boiled and see if it tastes different.
 
Jay Grace
Posts: 238
Location: Nauvoo, AL
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If you get a surplus of scobys I've heard of people making "scoby jerky" :X
 
Scarlet Hamilton
Posts: 28
Location: UK
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Yeah or scoby candy - maybe that is the same thing? I've seen a jacket made from scobys.
 
Joanne McCartney
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A jacket? Eeewwww! That sounds gross!
 
Scarlet Hamilton
Posts: 28
Location: UK
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I looked up kombucha candy that is called Nata in The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and there is more than one way of making it like most stuff. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone on this forum. The scoby jacket I mentioned before is in there too.
 
John Master
Posts: 519
Location: Wisconsin
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Normal sucks, being weird is fun, be weird...

I would like some details on this Nata you speak of. Scoby candy sounds just weird enough for me to enjoy.
 
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