Learn more about kombucha and share the love by joining "Kombucha Community by The Good Guys" group on Facebook.
- Necessary utensils which you find in The Good Guys Kombucha Starter Kit
- Basic recipe for a delicious brew
- Adding ingredients for flavouring and making kombucha sparkly
SCOBY HOTEL AND TAKING A BREAK FROM BREWING
- Tips on what to do if taking a break from brewing
DOWNLOAD BREWING INSTRUCTIONS - PDF
WHAT IS SCOBY?
“Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast”, SCOBY is the mother of kombucha. All the yeast and bacteria contained in the mother convert tea, sugar and water into kombucha. In high quality kombucha you can see and experience some sediment or a small scoby as an evidence that you’re enjoying a living drink. Always store kombucha in a refrigerator to put all those good guys in hibernation mode. Otherwise they may work overtime resulting in a fizzy mess upon opening the bottle. Warm temperature + raw kombucha + closed bottle = kombucha bomb!
CAN I USE DIFFERENT TEAS FOR BREWING KOMBUCHA?
We recommend using only high quality loose leaf tea. Tea bag grade is often made from the oldest leaves and ground to dust leaving only color and strength in the cup but lacking the character proper tea should have. Loose leaf tea is of better quality and has more health beneficial compounds left.
Unflavoured tea is recommended for the first fermentation to ensure all tannins, polyphenolic compounds and other important ingredients are available for yeast and bacteria. Tea used for kombucha is specifically camellia sinensis even though herbal teas and tisanes are commonly referred as tea. Herbal teas and tisanes don’t necessarily have the nutrients kombucha needs. They may also contain volatile oils which are harmful for the bacteria in kombucha. Using herbal teas and tisanes may yield great tasting kombucha for 1 or 2 brewing times but lacking important nutrients the culture may eventually lose vigor and die.
Herbal teas and tisanes can, however, be added with tea to bring flavour. Choose the ones with low amount or no volatile oils.
Black tea is most common tea type in kombucha. Using only black tea brews kombucha with clear mead notes which are quite familiar for Nordic people.
Green tea is excellent for kombucha. Brewing kombucha with only green tea often tastes somewhat like apple cider and dry.
White tea is made from the youngest tea leaves, the buds. White teas are quite soft and delicate in flavour. When used for kombucha expect light, subtle flavours.
Oolong tea is semi-oxidized meaning it’s between green and black tea. Some oolongs are darker where others resemble more green tea. Oolong is a versatile tea and well suited for kombucha.
Fermented tea, pu’er, has very dark color with clear earthy notes. It’s well-suited for kombucha occasionally bringing a touch of sweetness. Sometimes pu’er accelerates the fermentation process cutting 1-2 days off the usual cycle.
IS THAT MOLD ON MY KOMBUCHA?
Mold is an unpleasant surprise. On the other hand, it’s a clear sign that there is something wrong with the brewing environment or with the scoby. Although mold is a quite rare occurrence it’s a clear sign that your kombucha cannot be drunk. So get rid of that batch of kombucha along with the scoby and any possible scobys submerged in kombucha.
Mold looks exactly like on bread or other foodstuffs. It can be blue, black, or white but most of all it has a fuzzy and/or furry surface. Mold only grows on top of the scoby or liquid. If you encounter mold, always get rid of that batch of kombucha and all scobys in that vessel. Start fresh with a new scoby from your scoby hotel.
Identifying mold from a healthy, although weird looking, scoby can be challenging for new brewers.
Find examples of mold and normal growth here: MOLD – The Good Guys Kombucha Academy
Reasons for mold
1. Not enough starter liquid to lower pH to a safe range. Low pH protects kombucha from other, competing organisms such as mold.
2. Too cold brewing temperature slowing down fermentation. Slower fermentation is more susceptible to mold.
3. Other factors in brewing environment such as flowering plants which may spread wild yeast and mold spores. Other moldy food you might have can also spread mold spores.
4. Damaged scoby. Refrigerated, frozen, or dehydrated scoby may not brew correctly and is more susceptible to mold.
HOW MUCH SUGAR I NEED TO ADD? WHAT SUGAR CAN I USE?
Typically for one liter of tea 60 - 90 grams of sugar is added depending on how sweet kombucha is desired. The level of sweetness can also be adjusted with the fermentation time. Longer fermentation time reduces sugar content turning kombucha more tart.
Best sugars for kombucha are cane sugar and regular white sugar. Other fermentable sugars are brown sugar and maple syrup. JUN kombucha is brewed with honey instead of sugar. Brewing JUN takes time as the scoby must be gradually cultivated to allow it’s metabolism change to draw nutrients from honey.
Agave, rice syrup and dextrose are not well-suited for fermenting kombucha. Coconut sugar and other sugars are more experimental options which can be tried to substitute regular sugar but they may negatively impact scoby growth or be more susceptible to mold.
I MADE A BATCH OF KOMBUCHA BUT NOW NOTICED THAT I FORGOT TO ADD SUGAR?
It’s all good. Take out the scoby, add sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Put back the scoby, cover with a cloth and let it ferment.
I FORGOT TO DRAW STARTER LIQUID FROM PREVIOUS BATCH - WHAT NOW?
Prepare approx. 7 deciliters of tea and add sugar (60 - 90 grams / liter depending how sweet you like). Add scoby when tea + sugar liquid has cooled down to room temperature. Let ferment as usually and when kombucha is ready use that to start a bigger batch.
SCOBY SANK TO THE BOTTOM / WENT SIDEWAYS / FLOATS ON THE SURFACE - WHAT NOW?
Don’t panic. When starting a new batch the scoby may sink to the bottom or take any other place in the vessel depending on how it is feeling on that day. That’s all good. Check on your scoby every two days or so. Either the scoby rises to the top or a new scoby forms on the surface after a few days.
WHAT IF A NEW SCOBY DOESN’T FORM?
Low temperature may be the issue if you’re not getting a new scoby. Recommended brewing temperature is 22-27 degrees Celsius. In colder temperature let you kombucha brew longer. Under 18 degrees Celsius fermentation slows down significantly and it’s more susceptible to mold.
The issue may also be if you haven’t added enough starter liquid or if your scoby is losing vigor. When brewing for the first time scoby may form a bit slower than usually. Let your kombucha ferment longer. That usually helps when wanting to grow bigger scobys.
The bacteria contained in scoby may be getting weak. If scoby dies completely it is very susceptible to mold. Reasons leading to scoby dying can be 1) adding scoby to hot tea (above 42 degrees Celsius), 2) keeping the scoby in scoby hotel for more than 6 months without adding tea and sugar, or 3) keeping the scoby in refrigerator. If the yeast is still active your brew may have strong yeast flavour and smell. If you suspect that your scoby has significantly weakened, it’s better to start fresh with a new scoby.
THERE ARE BROWN STRINGS AND STRANDS FLOATING IN MY KOMBUCHA - WHAT IS IT?
Those brown fellas are dead yeast cells. It’s a perfectly normal sighting in kombucha and there’s nothing to worry about. Actually, having dead yeast cells is a sign that your beverage is fermenting. For some, that may look off-putting and it’s recommended to filter all brown stuff upon bottling. However, it is safe to drink those too if you’re unfazed by their looks.
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY KOMBUCHA IS READY?
By its flavour. Kombucha should taste slightly acidic, or tart, resembling slightly mead or dry apple cider. If you find your kombucha too tart, cut down the fermentation time for next round. If it’s too sweet, then let it ferment for a few extra days. Remember to check up on the flavour daily, especially when it’s close to desired sweetness.
WHAT DO I DO WITH EXTRA SCOBYS?
Usually, a new scoby is formed with every batch. You can store extra scobys in a scoby hotel. That is a glass jar with kombucha and all your scobys. Look up more info on “HOW TO TAKE A BREAK FROM BREWING?”
Another option is to give scobys to your friends who are into kombucha. We are sure your friends are more than happy to start brewing as they have drank your amazingly refreshing kombucha so many times. Sharing is caring!
HOW TO TAKE A BREAK FROM BREWING?
The best option is to make a scoby hotel where all your scobys hang out while you’re taking a creative break in the Bahamas. Make the hotel just like you brew a new batch of kombucha. Put in all your scobys, cover the vessel with a cloth, and leave in a semi-dark place in room temperature. Over time the kombucha will turn very tart. Use that kombucha to start new batches. Scobys survive in the hotel for months but remember to add sugar + tea regularly so that your scobys don’t dry up.
Another good option is to lend your scoby to a friend how can brew kombucha while you’re taking a break/holiday. Your friend will be over the moon for such a nice pet :) Also, at the end of your holiday your friend will have his / her own scoby. The best loan ever.