How to make kombucha

Discuss

94 Responses to “How to make kombucha”

  1. Anonymous says:

    - a week? mine takes closer to a month.
    - the top does need to breathe, but do rubberband the cloth onto the top. if it’s open at all, it may be contaminated by fruitflies or other insects.
    - use a siphon to move finished kombucha into containers while retaining carbonation.
    from jason in berkeley!

  2. Anonymous says:

    #39, MDH:

    I’m not sure why you view Ito’s comment as having such a harsh tone, or why you should choose to take on a harsh tone in response. When discussing the merits of materials, should it be so strange to discuss their use or risks in other areas?

    Preventing contamination from outside sources is a good idea if you’re having to deal with live cultures in brewing anything.

    A stainless steel spoon used for stirring should be reasonable and preferable over wood so long as it is properly cleaned before use, but what about a container made of such?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just read the comment about the fact that it’s just a messed up soda pop… apparently the trend fails to let people know about the actual antibiotic properties produced by the komboucha. It is sort of like weak, drinkable penicillin, but is hardly just a sweet and vinegary soda pop. Those of you interested should check out P. Stamets’ article on the stuff.

  4. Rick says:

    I found that the process requires two weeks instead of one as mentioned in the article before the Kombucha is fully ready. Also, after the Kombucha is done, put it in bottles, seal these so they are airtight and leave them at room temperature for a few days, this will get them nice and fizzy.

  5. Anonymous says:

    some friends of mine made kam-dew-cha (mountain dew + kamboucha) which was allegedly totally disgusting. go figure.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have been brewing Kombucha tea non stop for my wife since april 1996, still using the original “fungus” wich I got from the person who introduced in Norway. He had obtained it in the US as a remedy for his wife who suffered from colon cancer.

    My wife had then got the message that her malign melanoma had spread to the lymphs, and I was told that we could expect to keep her from four to eigth months.

    She is, however, still with us 14 years later, as an indeed healthy, loving grandmother, still working and loving her job in a kindergarten at an age of nearly 68!

    I make about 8 liters of brew every two weeks, using a coffe-brewer and a plastic container, covering it with an uneven plate to ensure oxygen. Two topped teaspoons of green or black tea to one kilo of white sugar.

    If we go away on holidays, we bring the brew with us. I set a new brew a day before leaving, and continue brewing when coming home after two, three or even four weeks.

    Oddvar

  7. Anonymous says:

    Did YOU read the articles?

    “Because of the acidity of Kombucha tea, it should not be prepared or stored in containers made from materials such as ceramic or lead crystal, which both contain toxic elements than can leach into the tea.”

    Sounds like the best bet would be glass for both growing and storing.

  8. brassrocket says:

    The problem with Kombucha is that for all of its touted benefit, it is basically soda pop. Except instead of citric or phosphoric acid making it tart, it’s acetic acid. That’s right, vinegar tea soda. Yum.

    I know it’s a good idea to make sure your gut has lactic and acetic acid bacteria in good quantity, so yeah, drink some Kombucha or eat yogurt every once in a while. But the idea that drinking it every day provides a microbial benefit is dubious to me.

    One novel thesis as to why people stand by their Kombucha is that it does contain one chemical element that promotes feelings of wellbeing and being energized: caffeine.

    That’s because black tea, the essential aspect of Kombucha is the greatest beverage on earth. Its caffeine levels are low enough that you can drink it all day – maintaining a slight buzz while simultaneously hydrating your person, it’s cheap, it’s egalitarian in that anyone can make it properly without a $300+ rig, and if you buy the good stuff, you don’t need sugar. It tastes good at any temperature. It’s rad.

    People don’t need more refined sugar in their diets. Tea has provided me an opportunity to transition AWAY from sugary drinks and for that, I am in its debt.

    • Anonymous says:

      brassrocket do your research. The Kombucha “mushroom” eats the sugar much like yeast consumes sugar, and transforms it to alcohol & carbon dioxide. (hence the bubbles)

    • KG says:

      raw honey, or a number of other healthy alternatives? White sugar should be avoided at all costs when it concerns kombucha with intent.

  9. Anonymous says:

    why make kombucha when you can make lambic or frambiose?

    • khaustic says:

      Actually, technically, you *can’t* make Lambic unless you live in Belgium. And more specifically, the Senne Valley region of Belgium. You can make Lambic-style beers and ales, but true Lambic starts with a spontaneous fermentation process using the natural air in the area surrounding Brussels. Just sayin’.

  10. rosie says:

    Mark, thanks for posting a great article on Kombucha. I enjoyed seeing the pictures, and it looks like your daughter is a great helper especially when kombucha brewing day comes around.

    Winchester Grey, you are spot-on about the nefarious fungal brain-tendrils. I have only tried it once, but living in a remote community I don’t have any opportunity to buy it commercially. I mail-ordered a kombucha kit and my first batch is still trying to grow a kombucha-baby in my cupboard. Dealing with very cold temperatures in my house has been a challenge.

    tessuraea, your “pickle-bucha” comment had me rolling. I am SO glad that I got some glass 2-qt Ball canning jars for my kombucha experiment instead of trying to cadge a free pickle jar from a restaurant. That is hilarious.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I just started brewing at home a few months ago and have been very successful.

    I’ve also started making kefir at home and have been putting 1 part kefir and 1 part kombucha into a smoothie (bananas, frozen fruit, fruit juice, protein powder) every morning since. Does anyone know if this damages the bacteria? Since I’ve started this routine my digestion has regulated quite a bit and I do notice a shift if I skip it for a weekend.

    Also, from what I’ve read, there is a probiotic component to the tea, but the bigger player is the glucuronic acid by-product in the tea which supposedly helps your liver digest toxins more efficiently. Of course, this is just some casual reading on the internet.

    Anyways, I would leave the vinegar out- it’s not necessary if you have a good SCOBY. And definitely ditch the ceramic and plastic containers and buy juices and milk in glass jars that you can reuse. The acidity of the kombucha can lead to toxins leaching in to your drink.

  12. pmocek says:

    My ancestors used to homebrew beer with a towel over the fermenter, but nowadays, we use a sealed, pre-sanitized bucket with an airlock (CO2 allowed to bubble out; unwanted microorganisms not allowed in). It seems that would be a much safer and consistent way to brew kombucha as well.

    What are those kombucha microbes, anyway? Do they produce alcohol before turning it to vinegar?

  13. Antinous / Moderator says:

    This would be even better if you made it from fermented grain and then distilled it.

  14. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    “This is a science and not following proper procedures is how people get sick and make the responsible brewers look bad.”

    You already made them look bad by being such an asshole. I appreciate your advice but your tone is really offputting.

    My kids do not drink kombucha. Neither does my wife.

  15. Anonymous says:

    websites say not to store K-tea in plastic because when it ferments it swells the plastic containers. Some people like this because then they know how much carbonation is going on. Some kits on the net also include plastic bottles for this reason. I wouldn’t use plastic personally because I don’t use plastic due to all the toxic crap that I believe leaks out of it. Some people are fine with that and don’t believe that plastic is that toxic. If the ceramic is lead free then there is no danger to the k-tea. As long as they use the wooden spoon only for tea then there shouldn’t be a problem with that either. The author didn’t state (where I saw anyway) if they used the spoon for other things. I have a spoon only for tea, only for chili, only for vegetables, only for fruits so I don’t cross flavors myself. My one correction would be that the starter tea should be 25% of the volume of tea to protect the SCOBY against contamination and the flavor of the tea. At the very least 10% if you have a backup SCOBY and don’t mind if the batch is off.

  16. brassrocket says:

    Pmocek: Yeast eats the sugar and converts it to alcohol which gets eaten by the acetic acid bacteria and converted to vinegar. It’s called a SCOBY or “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast”

    Antinous: you can’t! The bacteria cancels the fermenting. Or, maybe you’re thinking of balsamic vinegar :)

  17. SamSam says:

    I’ve had it before (the commercial kind they sell at Whole Foods), and, while I haven’t really given it a chance, it tasted like the whey that is left over when you make your own yogurt, only worse.

    I actually like the left-over whey when I make yogurt — it’s tart, weird, slightly green from the flavanoids, and contains the same bacteria as the yogurt (and, I assume, kombucha). The kombucha, however, is that same flavor in super-overload, and has a weird fizziness that churns my stomach.

    Then again, I’m sure if I drank it enough it would taste fine.

  18. Xopher says:

    Brassrocket, I think Antinous is thinking of Scotch.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Pmocek, beer usually requires an anerobic environment in order to brew. That means the airlock prevents oxygen from getting in and you get more alcohol.

    Kombucha (and lambic and frambiose) are brewed with an open top so that there will be some aerobic fermentation at the top. This allows bacteria to move in and produce lactic and acedic acids. Because acedic acid (vinegar) is made from breaking down alcohol, the alcohol content in kombucha is effectively zero. So it goes sugar -> alcohol -> acedic acid. If you let kombucha (or beer or wine) sit for long enough it will all turn into vinegar.

    If you do put an airlock on kombucha while it still has some sugar you can make alcoholic kombucha wine, since the oxygen supply is cut off and the bacteria die, leaving room for the yeast to produce alcohol. It’s not bad stuff, but I prefer to keep my alcohol and kombucha separate.

  20. pmocek says:

    Anonymous #6: Framboise is a variety of lambic, not an alternative to it. Xopher: Antinous seems to be thinking of whiskey, not of Scotch whiskey in particular, though he probably meant “fermented wort” not “fermented grain”. Take malted grain, add hot water, wait, drain it off, and you’ll have wort. Add yeast, and fermentation will occur as the yeast consume sugar and produce alcohol and CO2. Distill that and you’ll have whiskey. Instead, wait for carbonation to build up and you’ll have beer. Instead of adding yeast, leave the fermenter open and allow wild yeasts and bacteria from the air in a certain area of Belgium to do their thing, and you’ll have lambic beer. Make that with raspberries and you’ll have framboise.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I dont understand how this thread for the K-tea got so bitter myself. I have had my first homemade glass made from my wife who got the recipe from her grandmother, who has been doing this for quite some time from what I understand. The resulting drink was wonderful. It tastes like carbonated apple-cider. The smell however, which almost made me not drink it was to be desired, it wasnt BAD it just smelled like something was fermented…go figure eh? I dont know about putting vinegar in the mix, that sounds atrocious to me. Tea, sugar, water…those are the ingredients that my wife uses and her K-tea is absolutely wonderful. She uses PLASTIC to store, grow, and drink her tea out of. She uses PLASTIC spoons to mix it with. She uses STAILESS STEEL to boil the water in for tea, and a clean cloth to strain it with when the batch is ready after a week or so. No harmful side affects after many years of use has been noted, in fact, her grandmother, father, uncles, aunts siblings, herself, and me are all very heathy individuals who drink this wonderful concoction on a daily basis. I’m sure using glass to mix, cook, store, stir, and drink from would be ideal, but lets be realistic… not everyone has all that stuff. I dont know about the health “bennies” or the “ill side affects” that is being spread around the internet about this drink, but I’m sure if you dont make, store, and drink from sanitary utinsils its only natural that you could become sick. I say use common sense, dont believe everything you hear, and do your own research. Oh, and TRY it… you never know if you;ll like it or not until you do.

  22. dofnup says:

    I made Kombucha once, and the results tasted like rotten vinegar butt. I figured I had messed something up in the process, since it wasn’t even fizzy. My husband declared it a total failure, threw everything out, and made me promise to never try to brew Kombucha again. In fact, any time one of my projects fails he declares it “another Kombucha”.

    Anywho, the other day at my local AJ’s I saw that they sold Kombucha. OMG! I would finally be able to taste how it was REALLY supposed to taste! I anticipated something fizzy and tangy and delicious. I excitedly opened it and took a long chug.

    It tasted like FIZZY … vinegar butt. Sigh.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re right. The stuff in the bottle does taste like “fizzy vinegar butt”. That is NOT how it is “supposed” to taste. It’s like comparing instant coffee from the 99 cent store to fine, freshly ground, French Roast. It would be like someone taking a swig of flat Natural Light beer with a cigarette butt in the bottom of it and thinking “so THIS is what beer is supposed to taste like”? I’ll never look at another beer without getting sick. No offense to anyone, but commercially sold, bottled kombucha; tastes awful.

      And — if my spouse used a failed kombucha making experience to compare all of my other failures too… I would TRY AGAIN until I got it right… just to prove a point. Seriously, it’s not hard. Have a little faith in yourself. If you can make iced tea, you can make kombucha.

      If you are ever fortunate enough to taste a real, homemade batch; I have a strong feeling that it will completely change your opinion of it. To me, it has filled the void that beer once did. Now that I’m older, I drink 1 bottle a day in moderation and seriously enjoy it to the point where I look forward to it. It’s healthier and cheaper than beer and also a fun hobby. I don’t get drunk anymore (I met my quota at 22 years old) so for me, it’s the perfect, healthy little tonic.

  23. Anonymous says:

    can anyone tell me if it would be a problem to make Kombucha in a crock that has a brass and stainless steel spicket on the bottom??

  24. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    pmocek — wow, you know your stuff, and you are good at describing it in a clear way! Have you written any books or articles about fermentation or distillation?

  25. mikewarren says:

    A few quick comments:

    * Don’t use decaf tea; some of the things in the culture eat caffeine

    * I wouldn’t store it in plastic; it is quite acidic (I’ve heard down the 2.5pH).

    * if you store it on the counter for a while before refrigerating it, you’ll get more carbonation (and a proto-SCOBY near the top; watch out).

    * loose-leaf tea tastes a hell of a lot better than tea bags.

    @brassrocket wikipedia has at least one reference to a method by which one of the acids (it’s not all acetic) in kombucha stop re-uptake of liver wastes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha

  26. surrational says:

    That statement from the CDC should read: “Unexplained severe illness possibly associated with vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs.”

    Seriously, people are afraid of kombucha? Or are they just shills for big pharma? You don’t want everyone being too healthy, you know! If anyone has in fact ever gotten sick from kombucha, then it must have been contaminated somehow. When someone gets sick from spinach, does that mean spinach is bad for you, or should we just make sure we don’t get feces on it? Hmmm, tough one.

    By the way, I’ve been drinking kombucha and raw milk almost every day for about three years and BIG SURPRISE, I’ve never gotten sick from it!

  27. b-bomb says:

    I have been brewing for almost 2 years. Somebody told me that I need to get a new mother.That I need to renew every so often. I bought a bottle 8 days ago and have a very thin
    scoby growing. I would like some feedback on whether or not I really needed to do that renewal or not. Thanks

  28. Winchester Grey says:

    This creepy fungal mind-control drink turned up at work, where people would take a gulp, think it was vile, and put it aside. Then a few days later, when the Kombucha had had time to send its nefarious fungal tendrils into their brain and lodge there, they would gleefully be encouraging everyone around them to try the wonder of delicious Kombucha.

    I remain free of this evil symbiont, and wary of the Kombucha pod-people.

    If you think this is far-fetched, I encourage you to read Scott Westerfeld’s most excellent Peeps, and the parasite interstitials therein.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I have been brewing Kombucha for about a year now.. I’m greatfull to have been givin a scoby from a very dear friend of mine.. only have two things to contribute.. I have brewed mine in glass vases small in diameter at the base bulb out and then come back into a diameter similar to the size of the base then flair back out again, i have found that if filled to someplace between the top and the base of the neck of that vase, the culture has the potential to grow and “seal” itself on the glass, this making a wonderfully effravessent beverage.. Kombucha or not, splended to imbibe. Another idea to contribute… is adding fresh fruit after the fermentation process has produced the ph you wish to obtain this gives you added flavor as well as some wonderful fruit to enjoy!

  30. mdh says:

    ito – i was unaware Marks kitchen is a medical facility with the latent bacterial contamination of thousands of people in it.

    I’m also a chemist and a brewer, and I will always prefer a stainless steel spoon (boiled or steamed) to a wooden one – both to minimize the microbial AND flavor contamination.

    I guess stainless is terrible for hospitals, thanks for the heads up. I’ll be sure to consult you for my next hospital design project.

    (if you prefer a nicer tone ito, offer one)

  31. Anonymous says:

    I read an article a few months back interviewing some ‘fermentation master’. Up to that point I was really hyped on this kombucha trend. In terms of effectiveness, he put kombucha near the bottom of the list, below yogurt, kefir and fermented vegetables.

  32. Gilgongo says:

    This is totally confusing. I lived for 12 years in Japan, where “kombucha” is seaweed tea (and tastes utterly foul by the way).

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070712f4.html

    It seems like this “kombucha” is something totally different, yet it happens to share exactly the same name as Japanese drink! Whaa?? How did that linguistic accident happen?

  33. jonathan_v says:

    I brew regularly too.

    My insights:

    - I *personally* like to use a 50/50 mix of Green and Black teas
    - I often do the ‘double bottle’ method where you decant into a plastic bottle for a few days to build up the pressure/carbonate. You really shouldn’t do that in glass.
    - depending on the temperature, it takes between a week and a month to ferment properly

    In response to what people above have said..
    -a large percentage of the sugar is converted by the SCOBY . a large percentage , but not all.
    - if you don;t want refined sugar, you can use unrefined. there are variations in this
    - never ferment with anything other than sugar+tea — adding in herbs/juices can be dangerous
    - it is slightly alcoholic. usually well under .5%, but there is in fact some alcohol production involved. you can increase this by bottling , but its still present in unbottled (unless you let it set out… but then it’ll grow a new scoby and continue to ferment until all the sugar is out )

  34. pmocek says:

    Mark: No, no writing. I’ve brewed some beer, drank lots of it, and read a little about home-distillation systems. And I forgot to mention hops earlier, which aren’t absolutely necessary, but give most beer a good deal of its flavor.

  35. Ito Kagehisa says:

    MDH, stainless steel is a far better medium for culturing bacteria than wood. Don’t believe me? Look it up. Stainless is pure heaven for microbes, they absolutely love it, but most wood has naturally occurring antibiotics all through it.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=bacterial+growth+on+stainless+steel

    Hundreds if not thousands of people have died because hospitals all over the USA replaced their existing brass doorknobs with stainless steel, and replaced wooden implements with bacteria-harboring plastic and stainless steel substitutes. This is something you won’t read much about outside of medical research literature.

    I think a strong glass spoon is best for stirring live cultures; it’s totally neutral.

    Live yoghurt and live kombucha will cure the gut problems caused by heavy use of antibiotics – for example, if you’ve had treatment for periodontal disease or lyme disease, repopulating your gut with friendly bacteria is a good idea.

  36. Anonymous says:

    How can I limit the amount of alcohol-consuming bacteria yet still produce a quality Kombucha? I want an alcoholic Buch!

  37. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been brewing kombucha off and on for several years, usually starting with a scoby someone gives me. My kids also drink it, and love it. My son in particular likes it as a sports drink–it has a lot of B vitamins, and almost no sugar or caffeine because that’s what the culture feeds on.

    Ditto on not using plastic or leaded glass in brewing it. It gets more acidic as it gets closer to being done. And ditto on using a rubber band to hold down the cloth (or paper towel–I reuse the paper towel many, many times). It *will* attract fruit flies after awhile, and unless you use a rubber band to hold it down, you’ll end up with a bunch of drowned ones contaminating it and you’ll have to throw it out and start over.

    Finally, watch for black mold. Starting with enough of a previous batch can help prevent this, and being ultra, ultra clean. Not smoking around it and keeping pets away from the area is necessary as well.

  38. nanner says:

    the “unexplained severe illness” seems like it should turn you off if the vile goo on top doesn’t

    that gallon plastic jug is the water they sell at dollar tree, i would not leave anything (especially anything acidic)in there to drink.

  39. DefMech says:

    In case there are people who have never tried this and are interested: go to your pantry and take a swig of vinegar and imagine what it would be like if it were carbonated. There. That’s kombucha.

  40. Xopher says:

    It looks like something the cult members drink in a Buffy episode. I’ve sometimes left things in the refrigerator too long and found something that looks a lot like that growing on them, except it usually had grey-green fuzz on the top too. I used to discard them unopened, but now I recycle.

  41. invictus says:

    I grew up drinking the tea, but it was from a related zoogloea strain, so-called “Indian Sea Rice” or Tibicos.

    (an interesting article in general)

    Kombucha, when I tried fermenting some at home, was not as attractive a flavour for me, most likely because I hadn’t grown up with it. I will have to try and source some of the Tibicos. Mark, any experience with that one, or the third domesticated strain, the “milk mushroom”?

  42. nanner says:

    oh, i just did a google image search on Kombucha and am ready to hurl.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Actually a wooden spoon is the safest thing to use. Wood has natural thingys in it that kill bacteria. Same goes for cutting boards ect.

  44. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Heh, wait till you see a vinegar mother, NANNER.

  45. Anonymous says:

    b-bomb, you don’t have to get a new one. Your own scoby will form new ones all the time and you can just use one of those and retire your old one.
    The best site for kombucha is http://kombu.de/ (in English). He has a lot of interesting information and also tells you exactly how to make it (no added vinegar).
    In the German portion of the site, he goes into the Russian research that was done in the 1950 or 60s. Scientist teams were sent to two areas with very few cases of cancer (only people who had recently moved to these areas got cancer) and both, independently, found that people in these areas were drinking large amounts of kombucha and that this was the reason.
    Apparently you get the most beneficial stuff between about 8 and 12 days brewing time at about 70 F. So you don’t even do yourself a favor when you let it ferment until it’s so sour you can hardly force it down.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I keep seeing the comments, peppered throughout the post, that are generally disdainful of the use of vinegar, or of strong kombucha (which tastes like vinegar) when starting the brew; or of the taste of kombucha in general because it tastes like vinegar.

    First, the use of distilled white vinegar, or of “dead” apple cider vinegar, is, as has already been mentioned, to protect the brew from contamination by harmful bacteria and fungi. It is recommended that you don’t use a live brand of vinegar, like Braggs, unless you have a back-up mother, in case the live vinegar affects the health of the SCOBY. Again, if you have a strong SCOBY, it might not be necessary to use much, or even any, kombucha starter or vinegar; but if you’ve bought or received a new mother, or are using one that has been in storage for a while, it’s best to give the SCOBY a little extra help.

    And as to not using vinegar at all, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of difference as to the taste because most kombucha strains have the vinegar bacteria as part of the SCOBY (which, if it hasn’t been mentioned, stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeasts). If yours doesn’t, it’s got another acid-excreting bacteria that’s keeping the mother safe from invasion: use the vinegar for the first batch, and then left-over, sour kombucha for the following batches.

    As to the objection to the vinegary taste of kombucha: either brew your own and/or mix it with water/juice before drinking it, or move on to something else (’cause it’s obviously not for you). I personally *love* vinegar. Salads? Great! On cooked greens? Fabulous! As a garnishment for beans-and-ham-hocks? You haven’t lived till you’ve tried it! I’ll even have a couple spoonfuls of a fine, syrupy balsamic vinegar as a desert! What’s more, before I started brewing kombucha, I would occasionally make switchel, an old German/Caribbean (I’ve seen it ascribed to both areas) hay-maker’s drink made by mixing water, vinegar and honey: very thirst-quenching, and much better for you than soda. The tastes are almost identical.

    I will concede–to those of you who don’t object to the “vinegar” but to the “butt”–that kombucha also contains other chemicals, such as esters, which some might find objectionable. To this group I’ll just repeat “it’s obviously not for you.” Personally, I can’t stand Beer Kase Cheese (kind of like Limberger, which I haven’t tried, but have heard it tastes similar). My parents love that cheese and have it every Christmas: I think it tastes the same way that dog feces smells. It’s not for me; I accept that and I move on.

    One more thing, and sorry for running on: On the matter of using metal, I notice an almost religious response in some people. Boil your water in a stainless steel pot; use stainless steel to stir the un-brewed solution; use it to dip out the finished solution; even cut your SCOBY with a stainless steel knife or kitchen shears: These interactions are too brief to negatively affect the tea or the mother. Take off any rings before handling the mother because they harbor bacteria; don’t brew or store your kombucha in any type of metal container (even stainless steel will slowly leach when kept in contact with an acid); and if doing a continuous brew, make sure to switch out the metal spigot for a food-grade plastic one. I wouldn’t suggest ever using a metal other than stainless steel when dealing with kombucha, especially copper (or brass) as coper is highly injurious to microorganisms. Gold? It’s supposed to be non-reactive, so what the heck, let me know how it works for you! :) Otherwise, if you’re that worried about metal never touching *your* kombucha, keep doing what you’re doing: it’s obviously working well. Just realize that those of us who *are* using stainless steel the way I’ve outlined (and even wood: The Happy Herbalist actually sells wooden brewing kegs for kombucha, though I’d be worried about eventual contamination), that *that’s* working for us as well.

    Happy Brewing, K-Heads!

  47. Anonymous says:

    DOFNUP – Thanks for making me laugh out load. OMG that was funny.

    This was my first time learning about, googling Kumbucha. After all of this, I’m thinking I’m just gonna stick to waiting on Amazon.com to ship my Yogourmet maker. Hope my yogurt doesn’t taste like fizzy vinegar butt.

  48. brassrocket says:

    Nanner: I am highly skeptical of the “unexplained severe illness” qualifiers. I’m sure millions of gallons are sold every year, and nobody gets sick. Just like yogurt or unfiltered beer. Or sourdough.

    If you got a Kombucha culture from a source that hasn’t been making people sick, I don’t see why it would make you sick. Just like it probably won’t cure you of anything, unless, like noted above, you took antibiotics and your gut flora is messed up.

    Although I do find Kombucha fairly silly, Alex Hozven, the Pickle Lady from the Chow: Obsessives series makes a blended Kombucha/Vegetable drink that sounds delicious, mainly because it uses vegetable juice instead of fruit to create a more savory Kombucha. Fizzy, caffeinated, savory, bubbling vinegar-y vegetable juice? Now we’re talking.

    I heartily recommend anyone with an interest in fermentation or pickles to check out this video about her, by the way. Wild fermentation is awesome – nature wants to preserve your food for you. It’s funny because she considers Kombucha the one non-wild-fermented thing she sells, presumably because she got the culture from someone at some point rather than just getting the microbes from the air.

    http://www.chow.com/stories/11576

  49. wizardofplum says:

    If you have elevated Uric Acid levels stay away from Kombucha ‘cos gout really hurts.

    #44 Ito-nicely done, politeness will always negate invective.

  50. Beanolini says:

    #34, GIMMEADOLLAR:

    Ceramic leaches toxins and PLASTIC? Are you an idiot?

    This is pure superstition. Ceramics with an undamaged lead-free glaze are perfectly safe*, and most plastics used for food products should be fine for mild acids**.

    Kombucha’s pH is about the same as vinegar or coca-cola; if you’re happy storing either of these in plastic or ceramic, kombucha shouldn’t be a problem.

    *Ceramic glaze is basically glass with pigment particles in it- if its’ good enough for containing nuclear waste, it should be good enough for slightly acidic drinks.

    **And some plastics are even more acid-resistant: hydrofluoric acid is stored in plastic containers, as it dissolves glass.

  51. shokuh says:

    Hello. I wish you are good and healthy. Excuse me I have a question about kombucha.I have kombucha mushrum and I produce that juice but i don`t know if I want to keep this juice longer what should I do? because as you know this juice after times and 10 days become acidic. For solve this problem what should I do?plz help me.I mailed you from Iran and I love to increase this amazing mushrum.i want to increase my production industrialy.before your helping I will thank you.

  52. Mr_Voodoo says:

    Palmer Eldritch tried to give me some of this. I said no way. More of a Can-D man, myself.

  53. gobo says:

    If using a store-bought bottle of kombucha, should I use 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup store-bought kombucha? Does it matter if the bottle of kombucha is flavored, or does it need to be plain tea?

  54. Anonymous says:

    Kombucha is serious business. Who knew?

  55. Ito Kagehisa says:

    MDH, I am sorry, I was trying to be helpful. No disrespect was intended. Please accept my apology?

    I work a lot with hospitals, which is why I mentioned them.

    Flavor contamination is certainly an issue with wood, I agree. Although you can choose woods that do not absorb flavors (such as well-maintained olive wood) those woods tend to have a flavor of their own.

    Recently, due to the concern over plastic water bottles, parents have been sending their kids to my children’s school with stainless steel water bottles. Because they believe stainless is “clean” (it is the opposite really) they don’t thoroughly sterilize the bottles each day. While cleaning up the lost and found box, I have seen long black fronds and filaments growing happily in these bottles – it often looks like a kelp bed in there.

  56. Anonymous says:

    You also want to avoid Earl Grey and fruit flavored teas, they will cause mold to grow on your culture.

  57. RationalPragmatist says:

    My wife and I brewed kombucha for years. If you want to keep the fizz, I suggest individually bottling after the fermentation process. Also, using individual glass bottles allows you to clean these bottles thoroughly before you re-fill them.

    Another tip: when your primary mother (SCOBY)grows a second layer, save this new mother in enough kombucha to keep it covered, and store it in the refrigerator. This way, you have a back up if your primary mother dies, and you can also cut off a chunk to give to a friend that wants to start brewing themselves.

    For what it is worth, we found that kefir was substantially easier to make and maintain, and seemed to have similar benefits.

  58. Anonymous says:

    Is this the same mother used for kefir?

  59. technogeek says:

    Y’know, back when I lived next to a commercial bakery and everything fermented if it had the least inclination to do so since there was so much yeast drifting around, I found that just keeping iced tea in the fridge long enough it happily fermented all by its lonesome.

    Might be worth trying it with a standard yeast, or perhaps a standard sourdough culture, just to see if it would work and how different the results would be.

  60. Anonymous says:

    what’s also good and much easier is chilled strong tea and naturally carbonated water…

  61. eideal852 says:

    yikes.
    phew!
    mark, i also am guilty of the assumption that you make AND drink this with your daughter.
    not something you said, just based on the pictures.
    not that it is necessarily a bad thing mind you, i just cringed looking at the pics after reading your cited “cautionary tales”.

    glad your not. although it seems odd that in your photo set, you seem to throw all the care out the window, using the very things that are warned to NOT be appropriate implements. ceramic? plastic? “Some websites say not to store kombucha in plastic but I *like* this one gallon bottle.”(?!)

    why bother to link to the articles and then thumb your nose at them in the photos?

  62. Anonymous says:

    Those beer brewers… so shallow.

    Kombucha= cervesia + gluconobacter ferment
    kraut= lactobacter ferment
    Beer = S.cervesia.
    Beer2= S.Bulgaricus
    Beer3= brettanomyces+Sacchar.
    +Lactobac.+Pedio.
    Vinegar = acetobacter
    Kefir= Candida + Kluyveromyces+ Sacch.
    + Torolopsis + zygosacchar.

    Variety is the spice of life!

    As for metals? In moderation.
    pre brewed stirring? no problem
    post brewed stirring? beer yes; kombucha,no

    At a PH of 2.3 and nearly as corrosive as battery acid, Stainless is simply metal poisoining.

    Welder quoted: “There are more dangerous things in life than fumes”
    (recently diagnosed with late term liver cancer and 3 months to live. Age 47)

  63. Anonymous says:

    I disagree about the wooden spoon. I use wood for everything. Most woods are naturally antibacterial. Germs have a hard time holding on after the material is dry. And i love the hand made spoon!

    Thanks for the recipe!

  64. eideal852 says:

    argh!

    you’re.
    YOU’RE not.

    damn!

  65. mdh says:

    ito – no worries. It had appeared to me you were arguing with me on points I hadn’t made, and I tend to match the tone of those I address.

    I agree with what you’ve said, and this is just another miscommunication on the internet. no apologies needed, but consider offer as appreciated and reciprocated.

  66. Anonymous says:

    Storing acidic liquids in plastic can leach out toxic chemicals. Mark, please check what type of plastic container you are using–#7 and #3 plastics contain BPA (bisphenolA), an endocrine disruptor, which is very dangerous for children in particular (which is why kids water bottles are now stainless steel).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A

  67. Anonymous says:

    Whoa, I didn’t know you call THAT kombucha in the west. Here in Japan, it’s a name for a “tea” made of dried kelp (called, you guessed it, “konbu” in Japanese. “Cha” means “tea” by the way). Weird…

  68. jonathan_v says:

    Just to clarify / round-up some answers that people have chimed in with above:
    The mothers / scoby for Kombucha , Water Kefir , Milk Kefir , Ginger Beer , Vinegar, and other probiotic items are entirely different.

    Also, if you want to grow your own mother from scratch:
    – Get a bottle of unflavored raw kombucha , like the GT Daves. NO FRUIT JUICE
    – Drink half of it
    – In the other half, add a few ounces of sugary tea – so it fills up to the 3/4 way area
    – cover it with a cloth. i use a teabag ( i cut it open to brew loose leaf )
    – put it in the corner of your cupboard. in a few days it will have a film, in a week it will be a milky layer, in two weeks it should be 1/2 thick or so. that’s the mother.

    Mark-
    I can;t fathom using vinegar for this. I tend to keep some kombucha mothers sitting in a spare jar, creating a super kombucha vinegar. a tbsp or two of that on top usually drops the ph of the system a bit.

    If you’re really daring… what i discovered myself is that the ph is mostly there to protect the mother from mold/bacteria… not the solution. i;ve done batches where i used far less reserve liquid than recommended, and just drizzled it on top of the mother to get it nice and coated and protected (instead of mixing with the main liquid)

  69. tessuraea says:

    I’ve made a fair amount of kombucha. I didn’t use any vinegar, just poured a bottle of store-bought kombucha into my sugary tea. Fermented it in glass covered in cheesecloth for a week, then bottled. I suggest NOT using an old pickle jar; the pickle-bucha wasn’t something I could choke down… otherwise, it came out quite good and wasn’t at all a big deal. I enjoyed it mixed half-and-half with apple cider.

    It’s not the kefir culture, but it is a *very* similar culture to mother-of-vinegar. People have used them interchangeably.

    Like anything else you make using live cultures, watch it for strange colors, odors, or flavors, and don’t go contaminating it in any obvious fashion – but use some sense and you should be fine.

    Kombucha seems to operate a lot like sourdough; once it’s suitably acidic, it tends to kill the unfriendly micro-organisms. And I found it yummy. I agree, though, that its touted health benefits are probably not all that much more amazing than anything else with friendly bacteria.

  70. Anonymous says:

    Sour-tangy is better. harmony is found!

    Tastes like vinegar only;
    1) It is probably still slightly unstable, continue mother into another fresh batch.
    2) It was over-fermented and completely exhausted of ethyls and sugars.
    3) Dilute it more, until your ready for the next batch.
    4) Use it for a refreshing alternative to bath salts.
    5) Mix with whisky and soda, sip carefully.

  71. Anonymous says:

    Great instructions. The only advice I have for you though is to not use plastic bottle. Use glass. The tea will start to absorb the toxins from the plastic. Other than that, great info.

  72. Anonymous says:

    my batch turned to vinegar, does that mean:
    a) I killed the mother
    b) I can reuse the scoby with a new batch of tea/sugar??

    please let me know

  73. Anonymous says:

    Two Comments:
    1. As far as the lack of benefits from daily consumption of Kombucha, the lactic and acetic bacteria are not the main, at least only, effects of Kombucha. Kombucha has been known to rid the system of free radicals as well as pull LARGE amounts of metals out of the blood stream. In today’s age where food is increasingly processed and our oceans are full of mercury, the benefits are clear. Now this brings me to my next point:

    2. Since Kombucha has these metal soaking properties, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to never use anything metal with an active kombucha culture, including metal funnels, spoons, ladels, even lids. Kombucha should always be stored in at least plastic, preferably glass containers with platic, rubber, or cork lids, cork obviously can pop out with pressure, the nice fermenter beer bottles with clasping lids, similar to Grolsch beer bottles, are a good idea. I simply has saved kombucha bottles from myself and my friends for days and days, and I now have hundreds of re-usable bottles. Enjoy my friends!

  74. alyceobvious says:

    all kombucha enthusiasts are cordially invited to participate in a conceptually-sound beverage-inspired political/philosophical party that honors community spirit, nurturing of one another other, and planetary healing. please come check out the KOMBUCHA PARTY!

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/the-kombucha-party/389127546053?

  75. Anonymous says:

    the choice of brewing tea, that you may believe will bring health and vitality into your world, or some prescription meds that you may believe will do the same. All a matter of opinion, and choice.

    I have been enjoying Kombucha for a little over a year now, and have just bottled my first home brew. I came to do a little research online about the process, and found this site. I had to scroll through some banter to get to some helpful pointers, as I will continue to brew.

    Taking my health first into my own hands.

    Thanks for throwing up tips for the nubbie

  76. Anonymous says:

    I have been trying to find anyone who will send me a mother. Anyone who wants to get me started, please send me an email at argiod@hotmail.com

    Thank You,

    John Silver
    Montana

  77. girl mark says:

    I grew up drinking this stuff- it’s been a Russian tradition for a few decades- but we only fermented it lightly, to a sort of sweet-tangy tea with lots of sugar still in it, which is a lot more palatable than the acidic vinegar the hippies here choke down.

    I also don’t quite see where the supposed probiotic benefit comes from here- there are gobs of better, and tastier, homemade probiotics such as sauerkraut/kimchee, yogurt, kefir, and rejuvelac.

  78. GIMMEADOLLAR says:

    I see so many things wrong with your brewing process.
    1. Vinegar. Really? Especially for your first batch you absolutely do not need to throw the PH and it ends up making it almost undrinkable because of the sour taste. Where did you even hear about this?
    2. Wooden spoon, contamination heaven.
    3. Both containers you have pictured are very wrong. Ceramic leaches toxins and PLASTIC? r y n dt? sum y’r fdng yr txc t t ths chld, whch s brllnt. Kombucha ferments even after you take the mother culture out of it, you need to be using ONLY food grade glass, it may not seem like it matters but it absolutely does.
    4. Decaf tea will not ferment the tea correctly.
    This is a science and not following proper procedures is how people get sick and make the responsible brewers look bad.

  79. minTphresh says:

    mrvoodoo, where do you get those super-cool perky pat fetishes?

  80. Mitch says:

    How did a thread about a beverage get so mean?

  81. Anonymous says:

    well,,I was choked to know that it was one of the many things in my Egyptian culture :)))

  82. Anonymous says:

    kombucha should NEVER touch metal! Not even the rings on your fingers should touch kombucha. and if you store it in plastic, its very dangerous due to the high acidity, it will leach plastic chemicals into the drink. This is cause for alarm due to the fact plastics have phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens extremely dangerous to humans (and mimic the hormone estrogen), a known carcinogen in some cases. And one more thing, I don’t agree with the wooden spoon from the comment below holding in bacteria in its pores. I have read other scientific evidence that explains organic materials, such as wood, are more effective at disinfecting itself, due to its ability to engulf bacteria within its pores and breaking them down, as opposed to metal or plastic, which create perfect breeding grounds for bacteria due to small cuts and abrasions they can multiply within.http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2008/12/plastic-or-wooden-cutting-boards.html

  83. maradel says:

    I’ve been making and drinking Kombucha tea off and on for several years. I think it’s delicious, but the taste will vary depending on how long it’s fermented and the ambient temperature (as well as what kind of tea you use). If you don’t want really acidic kombucha, taste it every few days and refrigerate it when it tastes good to you. My kombucha is fizzy, definitely acidic but not vinegary, with a very slight background sweetness. Although I start with clean jars, etc, I don’t get overly preoccupied with making sure everything is sterile, either. Our society has become insanely fearful of “germs”.
    Here’s what I do: I use 2 qt Ball canning jars (glass) covered with cheese cloth during fermentation, a stainless steel pan for brewing the tea and a plastic spoon for stirring the sugar in and removing tea bags. I use decaf or regular green or black tea and sometimes I use half regular tea and half herb tea, like raspberry zinger. I’ve also tried it using just herb tea. It always tastes great. I use organic raw sugar or white sugar (if I run out of raw sugar). I’ve also tried it with honey (too expensive, though). After a week to 10 days, I replace the cheese cloth with a regular canning jar top and stick the jar (including the culture) in the refrigerator. When I’ve drunk most of the tea, I transfer the culture + remaining tea to a smaller jar and keep in in the refrigerator until I’m ready to make the next batch. I usually have a couple jars of tea in the fridge and one fermenting on the counter. It doesn’t need to be a chore or a science project.

  84. Anonymous says:

    I read about concerns relating to the sugar content of the finished kombucha tea. Yes, there’s a substantial amount of sugar added in the very beginning of the process. However, much or most of it is used up in the fermentation process as food for the beneficial organisms you are growing and also for the process of defending the brew from unwanted organisms. So your finished product is not as sugary as it started. Yay! It’s good stuff!

  85. mdh says:

    First – thanks, this is awesome.

    Second – Don’t use a wooden spoon for anything you want to keep cross-contamination out of. Too many pores in a wood spoon to keep totally clean. Try stainless steel?

  86. Anonymous says:

    I prefer making Lacto fermented sodas than dealing with Kombucha and if you can get a real Ginger beer plant or water Kiefer culture ,probiotic sodas are starting to make a comeback.

    Im a professional brewer and the process is easy compared to brewing beer from grain .

    http://homegrown.org/blog/2009/02/lacto-fermented-soda-skillshare-make-your-own-ginger-ale-cola-root-beer-and-more/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger_beer#Ginger_beer_plant

  87. Anonymous says:

    What is the best way to store the Kombucha mother?

  88. theincrediblejulk says:

    i wish i could make/drink kombucha, because apparently it’s all the rage.

    however, my mom was cool before time could catch up with her, and she was brewing kombucha in our fridge in the mid-nineties, and she used to force us to drink it. we were certainly not involved in the science-y aspect of it, or ever made to believe it was cool, just healthy (which, let’s be honest, isn’t a real strong selling point to junk-food obsessed tweens). i have made myself gag on kombucha (“i can’t drink it mom! it makes me sick!”) far too many times to ever reap its benefits as an adult. shame. i must admit, i’m still terrified of “the mother” (of the tea. not my kombucha swilling mom)

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