What is Kombucha?

This is officially my first blog post. Taking this first step has not been ​easy for some reason. Life is really busy these days for all of us- between kids, work, family and friends- I’m surprised I even made it this far to Blog Post #1! So just in case this is my one and only post, I want to share with you all the tips and tricks I’ve learned about brewing KOMBUCHA!!! This is going to be meaningful- I promise!

I’m not sure what classifies someone as an “expert kombucha brewer” but I can tell you that I’ve brewed about 20k gallons of kombucha- all myself, without any fancy tools or machines. And I’ve taught countless others how to brew kombucha ​as well. From free demonstrations, to private classes and of course training a revolving door of employees- it amounts to over 20,000 gallons of kombucha. I’ve always tried to share my information and encourage other to start brewing- because Kombucha can CHANGE YOUR LIFE- it truly is TRANSFORMATIONAL food, nothing short of amazing.

So let’s start, What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea. That’s it. There are a couple of theories regarding the origin of kombucha but one thing is for certain, this ancient tonic has been brewed for thousands of years by our ancestors. It’s hard to F#%K up. Trust me- you can make this amazing stuff​,​ and impressing your friends is just another added bonus.

How do you make kombucha?
Bring filtered water and organic cane sugar to a boil. Add tea and allow to steep.

TIP #1: Do not use water with any kind of PH enhancement. I’ve seen this problem many times. You’ve bought a $5000 machine that alkalines your tap water which you are using to brew kombucha and your brew times are really long even with heating pads and extra starter tea. The ideal PH of kombucha is 2.5 to 3- which means you allow your kombucha to brew/ferment until it reaches the proper PH on the test strips. Normal tap water PH is 6 or 7 and boosting the PH to a 9 or 10 with an alkalizing machine only makes the fermentation process more difficult for the starter culture. Here’s the magical thing about kombucha- it’s acidic outside of the body but alkalines inside the body. Kind of like a lemon!

TIP #2: Allow tea to steep for as long as possible. Covered overnight steep is my preference. I compare this process to that of cold brewing. Lots of time enhances the flavor and strength of the tea. Be careful not to allow the tea to steep for longer than 24 hours- it could get moldy.

TIP#3: Allow tea to cool. Using hot sweet tea can shatter your glass vessel and kill your starter culture.

Pour cooled sweet tea into the glass brewing vessel. Add the proper amount of starter tea and SCOBY. Use water to f​il​l to the proper level. Cover opening with fabric and secure with rubber band. Let ferment any where from 7 to 30 days.

TIP#4: Rubberbands break- use two just in case. Fruit flies love kombucha as well as other fermented beverages. If one manages to steal into your batch it will lay eggs and destroy the entire batch. It will also totally gross you out when you see it’s little baby worms swimming around in your kombucha.

What is the starter tea and SCOBY?
Starter tea is finished kombucha from your last batch. SCOBY is an acronym…

  • S: Symbiotic
  • C: Culture
  • O: OF
  • B: Bacteria
  • Y: Yeast

TIP #5: It’s more important to have starter tea than a SCOBY. You actually don’t even need a SCOBY but you MUST have starter tea.

TIP #6: Increasing the starter tea will speed up the fermentation process as long as the total volume of the batch remains the same.

How do I know when my kombucha is done? It’s always best to use the gifts that GOD gave you. Use your eyes and see if a new SCOBY has formed across the top of the vessel. Kombucha is an an-aerobic ferment meaning WITHOUT air. The starter tea and SCOBY work together to grow a clearish kind of gelatinous seal across the surface of your kombucha and create an an-aerobic environment. You should be able to see it.

Use your tastebuds to sample the brew- does it taste like kombucha? Do you like the way it tastes? If it’s too sweet you can always let it ferment longer. There ​is ​no real way of reversing a sour batch. So taste it often until you get the hang of it.

Use​ ​that cute button nose of yours to sniff your brew. Can you smell the vinegary scent of kombucha? I have had many people tell me they are too afraid to make their own kombucha- nervous they might do something wrong and make everyone sick. Let me assure you that it’s hard to F#%K up. I’ve only had a batch go bad once or twice in that sea of 20,000 gallons. It smelled sooooooo bad- and you would NEVER mistakenly think it was ok to drink. Trust your senses. You are hard wired for this- I promise!

What kind of tea is best for kombucha?
I would say Black Tea is the standard. Please use organic. Always use the best ingredients possible- you’re worth it. A typical kombucha tea blend is black and green tea- for flavor, SCOBY strength and different health benefits of the teas. But here’s your chance to add in medicinal herbs such as stinging nettles and marshmallow root- you can craft a special blend designed just for your needs and your beliefs. AMAZING

TIP #7: Flavored teas are great for kombucha brewing! I always use some traditional black and green tea AND flavored tea together. This way I am confident that the kombucha is getting all of its necessary minerals from the black & green tea. Most of the information I ha​d​ read​,​ discouraged using flavored teas- stating that the different oils can damage the SCOBY. I decided to do it anyway, an​d​ it worked beautifully! ​The brew had l​ots of added flavor without adding extra sugar from juice or fruit in the second ferment. More recently I am seeing kombucha companies such as Whale Bird using essential oils to flavor their brews. I guess the point is don’t be afraid to try something different.

We’re rewriting the rules!

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