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How To Make Kombucha

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How to make kombucha tea
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: Free Online Article by the Happy Herbalist
Item Number: LHow2KTea

How to make Kombucha Mushroom Tea

Kombucha Single Stage Brewing Guide

Ed Kasper Licensed Acupuncturist, Herbalist and Master Kombucha Brewer

see also

analysis of kombucha

 Kombucha Continuous Brewing method

 

second stage fermenting

left a link to our independent lab analysis our kombucha ferments

 Center: Our Premium Kombucha Mushroom Starter kit.

premium or organic tea,  Organic sugar, Kombucha Mushroom and 81 page booklet shipped in FDA approved Food Grade Plastic. 

Right a link to Kombucha accessories that made fomenting easy & simple

 

Do not store the kombucha mushroom  in the refrigerator, as it will go dormant. It'll be fine for up to two weeks in the plastic bag as is or place in a bowl and cover with a cloth or paper towel.

Ingredients (to make one gallon-size brew)

1

Kombucha Mushroom

2

2 cups of  "starter tea"  from the previous kombucha tea brew.  (10-25%)

3

5-6 t-bags or the Happy Herbalist gallon size t-bag. or 3-5 grams (one spoonful) of loose leaf tea

4

one cup (200-300grams) sugar.

5

3 Quarts of fresh pure water

 

supplies needed

one gallon (or larger) glass container

food grade plastic may be used. These may be identified with the number 1 or 2 inside a triangle on the bottom. Also acceptable are Lead-free ceramic, or wood oak casks. Restaurant-grade stainless steel may also be used. The Height to Width ratio does affect the brew - with wider being better. 3 1/2 quart Pyrex salad bowl offers more oxygen ratio, better taste (IMO) but is more troublesome. Gallon Size Jars are more convenient. 5 Gallon Buckets the easiest. Ceramic Jars are cooler.

Glass considered the best.

clean cotton cloth, paper towel or coffee filter to fit over fermenting container and a large rubber band to secure

a warm quiet spot (it does not need to be in the dark!) The kombucha mushroom ferments in a optimum temperature range of 73F - 84F. (23-28C) refer to our article on Time & Temperature

white distilled vinegar or alcohol. To clean utensils. Do not use bleach, soap or tap water which may have chlorine or chemical disinfectants. It is not recommended to clean or rinse off the kombucha mushroom But if you do so use only white distilled vinegar or alcohol. Iodophor is often used by kombucha home brewers and home wine makers to sanitize equipment and bottles safely without leaving a toxic residue.

 

Ready to Start: 

1. Boil Water. Do not over boil. Over boiling reduces the oxygen and carbon dioxide needed for fermenting kombucha. The purpose is to heat the water sufficiently to extract the tea and dissolve the sugar. We recommend using only good pure water. NOT tap or well water.

2. Add Tea  seep for recommended time dependent upon tea. Remove t-bags. Some people only seep their tea for a few minutes others allow it to stay over night.
Many people choose their tea based upon the medicinal value of the tea. consider natural caffeine free Rooibos Tea, Organic Green, Black or White Tea. refer to our article on the effects different teas have on a kombucha mushroom ferment.

3. Add Sugar no not boil longer than 5 minutes. Longer may "caramelize" the sugar. Most any sugar is OK to use. refer to our article to see the difference in sugars make to a kombucha ferment

           4 . cool to room temperature

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5. Add two cups "Starter Tea" (included in our kit) Use the liquid from your previous kombucha brew. 
10 % - 25% is recommended. The older sour kombucha tea is recommended.
Add White Distilled Vinegar (spoonful) if your starter tea is sweet. This helps prevent mold from happening.
Use the stuff on the bottom (brown sludge) to favor the yeast side/ use the clear portion from the top to favor the bacteria side of the SCOBY.

6. Add the kombucha mushroom.  Place the "mother" kombucha in the tea. Make sure that the tea is not hot ! Bring both to room temperature before adding. The kombucha will grow to fit any size container. The "mother" may float, sink or go on its side; No Problem. 

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tape the bowl to prevent the cloth from sinking into the tea.

Not necessary to use tape when using Gallon Size jars or Continuous Brew Containers. 

Cover with cloth that is tight knit, coffee paper filters, paper towels are often used depending on the size of the container various covers are options. The purpose is to prevent pathogens from contaminating the brew.

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Patience: Leave undisturbed.
Typical 9 days at 79F (26C) or 14 days at 74F (23.5C). Some folks prefer their kombucha sweeter with a 6-8 day ferment. Brew to your taste.

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Mid-Stage day 3-6 
new mushroom begins as a clear translucent film,  eventually creating a uniform appearance

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sometimes the CO2 will break through forming holes OR uneven distribution from movement or vibrations. Leave undisturbed allow the mushroom to form. 

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Carbon Dioxide (CO2) forming, lifting the baby. usually means a good carbonated drink. Too much and the yeasts are overactive and may thwart the bacteria (Click to enlarge)

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a new baby has formed on the top even though the mother is partial sunk.  
The new baby will form on the surface of the liquid. The brown "sludge" is spent yeast cells. Healthy stuff but most folks strain their brew before drinking
.

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Close up of Brown Sludge
This is the yeast cells. referred to as "brown squidles". This stuff is good to add to your next brew, but don't show to your friends.

Testing your brew.

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Testing your brew. One way is to stick a straw in. Place your finger over one end and pull out. Place the other end in your mouth and and then release your finger. The tea will then come out.  Continuous Brewing containers simply use the spigot to taste. The taste should be semi-sweet

Kombucha may be a healthful beverage in view of its anti-microbial activity against a range of pathogenic bacteria. This may promote immunity and general well being. It is recommended that Kombucha be consumed at 33 g/L total acid, 7 g/L acetic acid, to obtain these beneficial attributes. Kombucha Tea should be fermented to a pH of ~ 3.0 especially if bottling or storing for long periods.

Department of Food Science Cornell University Ithaca, New York 14853

Some folks use pH strips, after awhile one's taste buds will be able to tell. A slightly tart brew is recommended. But if you're diabetic, candidacies sufferer, have IBS or intestinal problems its better to brew until most of the sugar is gone. A percentage of sugar in the form of fructose always remain in the ferment. There is a method to determine the alcohol and sugar content of a ferment by using a Hydrometer

Your Kombucha Tea is Ready

Making Kombucha Tea to Your taste & Expectations

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1/8 - 1/4 inch thick baby is normal and healthy.

Separate the mushrooms, save 10-25% of liquid for the next batch 

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Most often the baby and mother are very close and sometimes in-separatable. 
however the baby will always form on the surface, even if the mother sinks

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Either the baby or the mother may be used for your next brew. With subsequent brewing they don't get any bigger just turning a darker brownish.

Save the mushrooms plus 2-4 cups of the ferment to start another ferment or two. Repeating the process as outlined above. The rest of the ferment is ready to drink, bottle or share with friends.

Hint

If you prefer kombucha sweeter, its OK to stop it when you like the taste.

I don't recommend to bottle it too sweet but its OK to drink. refer to the section on bottling and Second Stage Fermenting.

Instead of starting a new ferment right away, leave the mushroom along with 1-2 cups of starting tea you saved from the last batch, in the fermenting container and wait 2-3 additional days before starting a new batch.

Mold (or do you say mould?)

What appears to be fungus or Mold may be tannins from the tea or yeasts. These are still good mushrooms  (click images to enlarge)

for more pictures of kombucha mushrooms fermenting

if you suspect mold throw it all out. Tea and mushroom. But Wait 8-14 days. By waiting it becomes apparent. If it is mold - most people are familiar with the type of mold that attacks the kombucha - looks the same as on bread, cheese and meats and is FUZZY . Mold may be any color and it may also appear very DRY and DUSTY. Mold will be on top of the liquid or mushroom.

This is MOLD  

Mould on Kombucha culture

Most commonly found mold is (1) Penicillum notatum (green fuzzy) and (2) Aspergillus niger (black) But may be any color. The mold spores may come from the air, from the dry tea, the sugar, the containers, most anywhere.

mold is RARE
Department of Food Science Cornell University.
In their study of the anti-microbial activity of the fermented tea Kombucha the conclusion was "The anti-microbial activity observed in the fermented samples containing 33 g/L total acid (7 g/L acetic acid) was significant against the tested gram positive and gram negative pathogenic organisms."  

But Not Unusual: Once the kombucha has established itself it is quite safe. The danger lies in starting your fresh ferment (sugar & tea) without sufficiently strong organisms (starter tea & mushroom) to protect itself in the initial stage. Another opportunity for mold to strike is in the time allowing the fresh sugar & tea mixture to cool down before adding the mushroom and starter tea. Keeping it covered while cooling is recommended.

Consider heating only 1/2 of the amount of water necessary for your brew and the other 1/2 (pure clean water) on the side. Combine after you seeped the tea and dissolved the sugar in the first half. This speeds up the cooling down time considerably. And/or set the fresh tea & sugar mix in a bath of cold water to cool down faster.

The Continuous Brewing method is safer simply because once the ferment has reached its perfect taste and recommended level then one simply maintains that level.

other things to avoid

cigarette smoke, paint fumes, off-gasses, new carpets, strong direct sunlight. Cleaning agents, antibacterial soaps. Use only distilled vinegars (or alcohol) for cleaning or to aid starting. Using - or the presence of raw vinegar may convert your kombucha to mother of vinegar. (MOV) Whenever you use any vinegar be sure that it is pasteurized or boiled. Only White Distilled vinegar is recommended.

Mother of Vinegar (from a red wine) Very similar to kombucha. Often impossible to tell apart. However kombucha is a decidedly different species of bacteria and yeasts which makes kombucha unique. Kombucha produces gluconic acid while vinegar does not not.

Although adding herbs and other ingredients is a common practice care should be taken that something else is not created.

fruit flies are a common pests and though rare Vinegar eels as well may end up contaminating your ferment.

Refer to our Cautions and Safe Brewing Tips

some notes:

When your brew is ready, you should notice an apple-cider aroma. The pH when you began with all that sugar was about 4.0. The sugar is converted as it ferments, so day 6-8 the pH is around 2.7. Store bought Vinegar is about 2.0  Some folks like a sour tea others a sweet tea. The consensus is that a kombucha that's fermented for 6-8 days at a constant 78 degrees F. will produce the best balance of beneficial nutrients as well as a semi-sweet taste. The Continuous Brewing method does, IMHO, produce the best in terms of benefits as well as taste.

Separate the mushrooms. 
You may either mushroom to start another batch. Or you may leave them together. Or you may give one to a friend. But you should always save one in case something happens to yours. To save extra mushrooms, place the extra ones in a large glass jar. Fill only 1/2 way with the mushrooms adding some fresh sugar and tea and allowing at least 1/2 to be empty for air. You may then cap and leave at room temperature. Do not refrigerate Every 2 weeks or so replace that tea with fresh sugar and tea and fresh air.
Save 1-2 full cups (10-25%) for a starter tea for the next batch. Save the brown sludge and squidly little things especially if your brew is short on the yeasty side. Strain or discard those if you wish to increase the bacteria side of the SCOBY.

Decanting
Allow the kombucha tea to sit undisturbed so that the sediment settles on the bottom. Then siphon or carefully pour off the top 2/3 careful not to include the sediment.

Filtering. Pour the KT through a filter (to catch all those brown sludge (AKA: squidlies). Use cheesecloth or any clean porous fabric. (Paper towels or coffee filters will quickly clog) Run a hot iron over the cheesecloth as a form of sanitation. Filtering equipment is available. The size of the filter will determine the amount of active SCOBY. A very fine filters are available to remove almost all microbes. Therefore the degree of filtering will result in a corresponding activity (carbonation is one expression). Chemicals (sulfates) are available that will either kill the active SCOBY present or prevent further fermentation. Calcium may be added to decrease the acidity of the ferment. This was done with the German KOMBUCHAL of the 1920's and more recently advised by Dr Robert barefoot in his book The Calcium Factor. The filtering process itself removes a certain degree of acidity as percentages of the SCOBY are removed. Gelatin (as in Knox Gelatin or Jell-O) may be added which also clarifies the ferment, as well as adds flavor. Plain Gelatin is available from Baker's supply houses (or from www.HappyHerbalist.com) all that is needed is a tiny pinch.

You can determine the sugar and alcohol content by using a Hydrometer

This is important for diabetics and others who need to know the sugar and alcohol content of a ferment. It is also useful to determine the mount of potential fermentation, and therefore the potential for glass bottles to explode because of new or continued fermentation.

Bottling. Pour the filtered kombucha tea into a clean plastic bottle and fill to the brim. Squeeze slightly to remove all the air and cap. Plastic water bottles are better as they allow for expansion. Allow to mature for a few days or up to a year or more. The activity of the bacterium is stopped because the bottling excludes the air, while the yeast continues to work the gas produced by the yeast's activities, is unable to escape. Thus an effervescent drink is produced. HINT Some folks add herbs or one or two raisins, or a sliver of ginger, Stevia, or 1/4 tsp fructose per quart, before bottling to sweeten and for a second fermentation. You may store your brew for years. 

Secondary Bottling. Allow the bottles to sit at room temperature for 1-2 days for a secondary anaerobic (without oxygen) fermentation. This fermentation will continue until the remaining sugars are used and then refrigerate to stop the process and the ferment go dormant. Refrigeration is not needed for long term storage but KT should be maintained in a cool dry place similar to storing fine wine. For long term storage many people will transfer their KT from the plastic bottles into glass bottles. There is always the danger from glass bottles (of any ferment) from exploding so I urge caution when small children are present. The industry standard for Glass Bottles and ferments are ones with a long narrow neck, to limit and control over-fermentation and for brown or colored glass to prevent harmful sunlight spoiling the ferment. Glass bottles and cappers and corkers are available form Beer and Wine Hobby shops. Be sure to mark the date and type of kombucha you've prepared.
see also How to make Kombucha Wine & Fine Vinegar. How to reduce the Sugar content without sacrificing the taste.

Again here is the advantage of the Continuous Brewing method. Avoid all that bottling and filtering stuff and simply draw off a glass of fine KT and drink. Or when you want to save some for latter you can do so at any time.

Begin drinking a few ounces daily. 4-8 ounces daily is considered a therapeutic dose. Additionally Drink 1/2 of your weight in ounces of fresh pure water daily So if you weigh 100 pounds drink 50 ounces of fresh pure water every day. This not only helps the kombucha detox your body it is simply the healthiest thing you should do.

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HappyHerbalist's

Kombucha Mushroom Starter Kits

HappyHerbalist's

Kombucha Mushroom Tea

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Kombucha Tea balances the Middle Qi. By aiding the stomach to better digest food and by assisting the spleen to deliver more nutrition, the body heals itself. 

 

To Your Health,

Peace,
Ed Kasper LAc  & family

California Licensed Acupuncturist

and Medicinal Herbalist

www.HappyHerbalist.com

 

copyright 1997-2007

 

Additional Information

Now you're on your way consider the Kombucha Continuous Brewing Method

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