Second Stage Fermenting
Call For Pricing
Kombucha Mushroom Tea
Secondary Fermentation & Bottling Tips
by Ed Kasper LAc. Acupuncturist,
Herbalist, & Homeotoxicologist
One big advantage of a secondary fermentation is
that it reduces the sugar without sacrificing the taste.
kombucha and studying its character I have run across many "correct
preparations" and "original methods" therefore first I want to describe the
basic Kombucha Tea brewing guidelines as I understand them.
Kombucha tea should be fermented to a pH
of 2.5 to 3.0. While a lacto-ferment the ph should be between 3.6 and
3.9. (a pH below 3.6 may result in the demise of many of their
beneficial microorganisms associated with a lacto-ferment.) Lactic acid
and the polysaccharide and minerals are expected to keep lacto ferments
safe, while aceto-ferments rely upon the acetic acid. Note not all
kombucha ferments have lactic acid, therefore this discussion will
center around acetic acid.
Lemon juice or vinegar has a pH of
apple-cider vinegar is 5 % acetic acid while Kombucha Tea ~ 1%. The
difference between vinegar and kombucha is gluconic acid. The
is produced by the same species of bacteria that produces acetic acid.
Bacterium xylinum, Acetobacter xylinum; xylinoides, and Ketogenum.
Study found the average kombucha ferment to be slightly less than 1% acetic
acid (7 g/L) while still being pleasantly tasting and anti-pathogenic (anti-microbial).
The acetic acid is the vinegar taste. The sharpness or kick that most people
like in their Kombucha Tea. The gluconic acid smoothes the harshness of the
acetic acid. The ratio of gluconic acid to acetic acid is a balance we strive
for in a kombucha ferment. Our
produces about a 2% (1g/L) gluconic acid. The other major component
identifying kombucha tea is fructose. (4.8 g/L*)
The yeasts in the Kombucha SCOBY are primarily of
ludwigii, s. apiculatus, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Zygosaccharomyes, and
Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This combination of bacteria and yeasts work in an
oxygen environment. What is referred to here as an aerobic fermentation.
Over-simplified the yeasts cleave the sugar into glucose and fructose. The
yeasts produce alcohol from the glucose which the bacteria than convert to
acetic acid. Both the yeast and the bacteria compete for the glucose which the
bacteria convert to gluconic acid. In the typical kombucha ferment (9 days at
80F/26C) very little alcohol remains (less than 1/2 of 1%). The Kombucha Tea has
gone from really sweet to a pleasant semi-sweet state.
*It is had to
accurately know how much sugar or fructose remains.
indicated 5% (4.8 g/L) glucose after their typical 9 day ferment (pH 2.5). Their
initial sugar start was 100 g/L.
Now if we
wish to bottle and refrigerate our brew will stay pretty much as it is
with a slight more mellowness. [Cold Stabilization]. To maintain this character
we simply have to bottle without leaving any air space. The bacteria will
continue to convert the alcohol to acetic acid (becoming increasingly more sour)
and compete with the yeasts for the remaining glucose as long as there is oxygen
in the bottle and temperatures are in the range of 70F-85F. The yeasts
will remain active as long as glucose is present switching to an anaerobic
(without oxygen) ferment. The yeasts also produce carbon dioxide (carbonation)
which suffocates/diminishes the bacteria. One effect may be more alcohol present
(still less than 1/2 of 1%) but no additional acetic acid created as the
bacteria rely upon oxygen. The yeast may be active in temperatures as low as
40F/5C with or without oxygen.
Now to the Second Stage Fermentation
The efforts here are to reduce the sugar content
creating a 'drier" Kombucha Tea.
Another reason is to reduce the sugar
content as much as possible for diabetic and other health concerns like
The first stage of fermentation as
outlined above should produce a semi-sweet tasty Kombucha Tea. There
should be some sharpness or sourness, not so much as to make it
undrinkable, nor too sweet. If you are checking the pH it should be from
2.5 to 3.1.
The Second Stage is an anaerobic (without
If your ferment is already pretty much
vinegar - its too late. Use it as a hair rinse, foot bath, or a body
wash for pets and animals. Or mix with sparkling water or fruit juice
Now find a nice clean glass bottle and an
air-lock. An Air-Lock, available from your local Beer and Wine Hobby Shop,
or from us, have several designs. This simple device protects ferments from
infection while allowing carbon dioxide gas to freely escape the fermentation
vessel. Water is placed in the air lock and gas is released as pressure builds
up. Or you could simply place a balloon over the opening (as pictured below) and
use tape to secure. With the airlock you determine when the fermentation is
complete by the numbers of bubbles (or lack of bubbles) that flow through. With
the balloon its largely a guess and hopefully before the balloon pops.
the ferment the faster the fermentation.
gas will continue to be produced as long as there is fermentable sugar
level (gluconic and acetic) will stay at about the same level since the
oxygen supply is cut off and the taste will become "drier" as the sugar
is converted to alcohol.
desire is to create a higher alcohol content a la Kombucha Wine
add additional sugar (glucose or dextrose) just prior to the air lock or
balloon or fruit syrups for flavoring to increase the alcohol potential.
Some more sweetness to the brew as all the sugar will not be utilized by
the yeasts will also be likely. Adding fructose at this point will
mainly increase the sweetness without adding additional fermentation or
Champaign yeasts that produce higher levels of alcohol is another
option. You can choose the yeasts for many reasons besides alcohol
production, potential produce 5-12% alcohol. There's taste a factor as
well in the selection of additional yeasts.
option for those desiring to reduce both the sugar and alcohol content
is (besides not adding any extra sugar or fruit) is after the Second
Stage ferment is to pasteurize the brew. Heat the brew to at least 140 F
to 160 F for 10-20 minutes. This will reduce the alcohol as well as the
probiotic population but remain still a healthy and tasteful brew. The
lower temperature the less the taste is affected.
You can enjoy
and drink away, bottle for latter or further clarify and refine your
How To safely make
opinion the safest, easiest and best way to make great Kombucha Tea is
Continuous Brewing Method
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