VIA Kombucha Single Stage Brewing Guide
Ed Kasper Licensed Acupuncturist, HeRbalist and Master Kombucha Brewer
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.
With a little care and understanding your Kombucha Mushroom will continue to reproduce each cycle. Simple adding fresh sugar and tea each cycle will produces years of health and enjoyment. Always keep at least one mushroom and some tea separate in a glass jar if case something happens to your.
some mushrooms are thin and flimsy
Ingredients (one gallon-size brew)
2 cups of “starter tea” from the previous kombucha tea brew. (10-25%)
5-6 t-bags or the Happy Herbalist gallon size t-bag. or 3-5 grams (one spoonful) of loose leaf tea
one cup (200-300grams) sugar. we prefer organic sugar and tea.
3 Quarts of fresh pure water. Distilled Water is Recommended
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.
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!)
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.
Ready to Start:
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
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
Add Sugar no not boil longer than 5 minutes. Longer may “caramelize” the sugar.
Cool to room temperature and pour into a brewing container
Add two cups “Starter Tea” (included in our kit)
Use the liquid from your previous kombucha brew.
10 % - 25% is recommended. The older more sour K-T is recommended. Add White Distilled Vinegar (spoonful) if your starter tea is sweet and use 25-50% per volume.
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.
Add the Kombucha. 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.
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.
tape the bowl to prevent the cloth from sinking into the tea
Not necessary when using our 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.
Patience: Leave undisturbed for 6-8 days.
Mid-Stage day 3-6
new mushroom begins as a clear translucent film,
eventually creating a uniform appearance
sometimes the CO2 will break through forming holes OR uneven distribution from movement or vibrations. Leave undisturbed allow the mushroom to form.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) forming lifting the baby.
usually means a good carbonated drink
(Click to enlarge)
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.
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. 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. This is usually day 6-8. But more depends upon your taste Simpler method is using the spigot on the sun tea jar, or our 5 gallon brewing container.
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 or less. (though it is not an absolute)C.J. Greenwalt, R.A. Ledford, and K.H. Steinkraus Department of Food Science Cornell University Ithaca, New York 14853
Some folks use pH strips, after awhile tour taste buds will be able to pretty well 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. Nice and sour usually day 14. Research indicates Pu-erh Tea is beneficial in intestinal disorders. White Tea is higher in anti-oxidants. Rooibos caffeine free.
the Red Plate under the Sun Tea Jar is our Kombucha Brewing Panel Our pads are specially made for optimum kombucha brewing. We now make them in Blue 25 watts for cold area and a 17 watt for warmer areas. Thermostat controls are optional. available at www.HappyHerbalist.com
EVERY TIME the mushroom is disturbed and liquid is moved on top of the old mushroom another mushroom will begin to form. This is not a problem for the kombucha tea drinker, as the tea is not affected only the growth of the mushroom. So if you’re using the growth of the mushroom as indicator leave the mushroom undisturbed. When the tea is to your liking, its ready. see Decanting below
Separate the mushrooms, save 10-25% of liquid for the next batch
Most often the baby and mother are very close and sometimes inseperatable.
however the baby will always form on the surface, even if the mother sinks
Either the baby or the mother may be used for your next brew. With subsequent brewing they don’t get any bigger just turn a darker brownish.
The color of the tea, as well as the kombucha is dependent upon the type of tea used as well as how long the tea was allowed to brew. Green tea being much lighter in color and favor producing a lighter color tea as well as a new baby.
What appears to be fungus or Mold maybe “tannins” from the tea
These are still good mushrooms (click images to enlarge)
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 and on TOP.
Mold will be FUZZY.… these ugly spots above are smooth. Although often the mushroom will be rough careful examination will reveal no mold. The dark spots appear to be “inside” and often the underside (as shown earlier) will have terrible looking brown “crude” hanging down. These are safe kombucha mushrooms. Two main things to look for 1) FUZZ and 2) the same sweet taste as when you first started brewing. As a rule the longer the brew ferments the more sour it becomes.
This is MOLD
mold usually grows in concentric circles with clearly defined borders
Most commonly found mold is (1) Penicillum notatum (green fuzzy) and (2) Aspergillus niger (white, black or gray). There are however several different molds that could attack the kombucha quite unexpectedly.
why mold is RARE
Department of Food Science Cornell University. Ithaca, New York
In a study of the anti-microbial activity of the fermented tea Kombucha
"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) with sufficiently strong enough organisms (starter tea & mushroom) to protect itself in the initial stage.
Note: cigarette smoke, paint fumes, off-gasses, strong sunlight will kill kombucha.
Use only distilled vinegars (or alcohol) for cleaning or to aid starting. Using raw vinegar may convert your kombucha to mother of vinegar. (MOV) Whenever you use any vinegar be sure that it is pasteurized or boiled. The common White Distilled vinegar is OK
Mother of Vinegar (from a red wine) Very similar to kombucha. However kombucha is a decidedly different species of bacteria and yeasts which makes kombucha unique. Although adding herbs and other ingredients is a common practice care should be taken that something else is not created. see Kombucha Gallery for more pictures.
see adding medicinal herbs
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.
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.
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 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.
To Your Health,
Ed Kasper LAc California Licensed Acupuncturist & Medicinal Herbalist
The finished product
KT: The Immortal Health Elixir of the Tsing Dynasty
www.HappyHerbalist.com try our individually crafted strains ask for a free sample.
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.
Kombucha Pressed Extract and especially Alcohol Extracted Kombucha or capsules are more akin to taking medicine but does offer a convenience for Diabetics or IRB sufferers. Our Kombucha Vinegar /Essence contains a even greater concentration of the acids believed to be the catalyst for heath and longevity.
Either our Pure Pressed Extract or our Pure Distilled Essence may be taken alone or with flavorful combinations of healthy vinegars, oils and honey. A Food Enhancer freely added to soups, salads, on meats and poultry, great on rice, potatoes and pasta and in water and juice bottles. Safe for Children and Pets. And makes a thoughtful gift.