Kombucha Starter Instructions
Welcome to Kombucha brewing! An exciting adventure awaits!
To get started you will need:
2 Large Jars (1-5 Litres is best) One for brewing, one for infusion of flavours.
Any size jar will work for a start.
Organic Green or Black Tea
Recommend Green for beginners. Trade Aid bags at supermarket are good for a start.
Starter Kombucha (20% of the jar)
Water (Pure. Unchlorinated, unflouridated. Filtered is alright.)
Fabric for lid (Sheet or T-shirt is alright. Unbleached cotton is best.)
Rubber band for lid.
Warmish, darkish space.
For advanced or precise brewing, pH tester and hydrometer are handy.
Kombucha brewing is not overtly difficult, however it does require time and attention to details. Which we do not all have available at all times. If your Kombucha SCOBY dies from neglect or other factors, pick up your chin, compost it and try again. Once it is in the flow of life, it is another weekly routine, which will require little (in very small batches) and will give much.
We always recommend organic Tea and sugar, as chemicals do affect our bodies adversely. As Kombucha is a wonderful health tonic that also detoxifies the liver, it is best to give your body a clean solution, free of pesticides and chemicals for optimal health and absorption.
The yeast in the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), eats sugar. Bacteria eats caffeine and tannins in the tea. A caffeinated tea is recommended. Non-caffeinate tea can work, but will require much more maintenance. Black, Green, or White Tea all work for brewing and have different properties. Some other teas such as Yerba Mate also work. The Kombucha will convert much of the caffeine, but will leave about 20%ish. A trace amount of sugar will also remain, usually 4-12 grams per 200-300ml when brewed fully. Trace amounts of alcohol are naturally occurring from the ferment process. The longer the brew, the more alcohol content. Usually below 1%. About the amount of alcohol of two day old orange juice.
*Your starter SCOBY will need some starter Kombucha. This is included in your kit.
*Always wash hands before touching your SCOBY.
* Find a jar suitable to your needs. The SCOBY will size itself to your jar. If you put a wee piece of SCOBY in a huge jar, it will become as wide as the jar. Sometimes cafes have larger jars without lids that they will give away. However, start with what you have. If you have a 300ml jar, start with that. Your brew will go fast and you will quickly source a larger jar, as half a glass of Kombucha won’t cut it.
*Always use a breathable cover on your Kombucha jar. Sometimes cafes have larger jars without lids that they will give away.
(Fabric. Stretchy fabric works well. Cotton, Hemp, or a natural fibre is best.)
*Black, Green, Oolong, or White Tea are the most recommended and traditional Teas for Kombucha making. Each has different health benefits and taste. Find more information on the internet or in libraries.
*Organic Golden Sugar is an unrefined sugar, which Kombucha loves. Darker sugars have more molasses, which is anti-bacterial and can interfere with the SCOBY. Honey does not work, but a culture called Jun uses Honey. Coconut sugar also does not work
As hard as it is for us anti-sugar folks to swallow, SCOBYs need sugar. Pure sugar. The good news is, that when brewed properly, Kombucha has less sugar than a glass of juice.
*Always let Tea cool to the same temperature as the Kombucha in the jar. If Tea is too cold, add a splash of boiling water to it to bring it to the same temp. If the tea is too cold, your SCOBY will sink and form a new one. Which is alright, but a bit of a bummer if your SCOBY is strong and mature. (Although, this is your chance to make a new Kombucha by putting the sunken SCOBY into a new jar!) Use a thermometer or a clean finger to test the temperature.
*Mold is rare, but if you ever see mold on the SCOBY, throw it away. They are not save-able once they have mold. Little grayish greenish bits are not always mold, but yeast. When it is fuzzy, then it is Kombucha mold. Throw it in the compost.
*SCOBYs can be used for skincare, Athlete’s foot, compost, smoothies, craft projects when dried, or to make more Kombucha. Share them around. It feels good!
Make sure your hands and all implements are clean.
Remove the SCOBY from the bag and pour it and the liquid into a jar. Put the fabric cover and rubber band on the jar. Put it somewhere dark and warmish. Hot water cupboards can be good.
Make a Tea brew for the SCOBY.
Brew a pot full of tea, proportionate to your Kombucha jar.
Always leave 20%ish Kombucha in the jar for each brew.
For a nice black or green tea brew, brew the tea for 5 minutes. Sieve the tea and add the sugar. There are more refined instructions for Tea brewing that can be found online.
For one Litre of Kombucha, use 50-80 grams of sugar. It will taste like a very sweet tea. Too much sugar, and your brew will take a long time to make and may become “yeasty”. Too little, and the symbiosis won’t work properly and the SCOBY will become out of balance.
Let the sweetened Tea cool to the same temperature as your Kombucha liquid. You can use a thermometer if needed. Tip your jar to one side slightly. This will help the SCOBY to stay afloat while you pour your tea into the jar. Some people remove the SCOBY during the pouring. I find the less the SCOBY is disturbed the better. We even do our large batches without removing the SCOBY. Using a pouring vessel, pour the Tea brew into the jar with the SCOBY until the jar is full to the edge of where it becomes smaller. The SCOBY will grow to the size of the jar where it sits.
Leave a bit of air space at the top of your jar.
If the SCOBY sinks, you may lift it to try to float it. Try again the next day if it is still sitting on the bottom. If it stays at the bottom, let it stay there and it will form a new SCOBY. This is normal.
SCOBYs like warm and airflow. Not over 28 degress C. Optimal is 22-25 degrees. 20 degrees is cold. 18 degrees or lower and you are at risk of losing your SCOBY to mold. And it will cease brewing.
They prefer to stay out of direct light and sunlight.
They like hot water cupboards.
They like nice music.
Let it form a SCOBY on top of the liquid. It will be a thin gelatinous disk covering the liquid. This will thicken over days and will be brewing your Kombucha while it forms.
They love pure water, un-chlorinated and un-flouridated. Filtered water is alright.
After about 3 days, start testing your brew. Test it over the next few days until you feel it is ready. When the taste of the sugar is gone and replaced by tart. And the taste of the tea is mostly gone and replaced by effervescence. Then it is ready. There will still be a wee bit of tea taste, depending on the type of tea you use. The sugar taste ought to be gone. Entirely. The more tart the Kombucha, the stronger the medicine.
This is the time to name your SCOBY. After the first batch you will have an idea of its flavour, individual character, or personality. Stick a name label on your jar. Refer to it by name. It will get to know you. And you will get to know it. These cultures are alive. If we name them, we take better care of them and relate to them more. Human psychology at its finest.
Pour your Kombucha off, leaving 20% for the next batch. If you are onto it,
have the next Tea brew ready for the Kombucha when you pour off and top it right up. Cover it and put it away.
Your SCOBY will form “babies”. The SCOBY is known as the mother. The babies form on top and become the new mother. Periodically for SCOBY health (every few months), or when you want to give a SCOBY away or make new Kombucha, peel a layer or more off the bottom. Place that in some more starter Kombucha liquid and birth another Kombucha brew!
For flavouring, put the poured off Kombucha in another vessel with herbs, spices, fruits, or whatever you fancy trying. Leave this with the lid on for a couple of days. Strain and pour off when it tastes ready. Put in a bottle and put in the fridge.
Fizz. The big debate.
Fizz is not a necessary in Kombucha. Kombucha does not create fizz. Sugar and yeast creates fizz. The more sugary and yeasty your Kombucha, the more fizz. And yet, the end result will contain more sugar. As well as creating an imbalance in the symbiosis that creates the extra goodness. Some Kombucha makers create fizz by adding sugar to the second ferment and bottling then storing outside the fridge for a few days, week or so. Fruits, due to their sugar content, may sometimes create more fizz. Some brewers add Co2 to their Kombucha for that “soda pop” fizz feel. Putting Kombucha in a keg will create fizz.
Personally, at MamaZing we prefer effervescence to fizz. We are not trying to recreate a soda or beer. Kombucha is its own creature and naturally produces a lightly effervescent environment.
Green tea creates more fizziness than other teas, but it is more of an effervescence than a fizz.
With the lid on, in the fridge, Kombucha will become more effervescent. If storing in the fridge for more than a week, remove the lid occasionally to release pressure. Exploding bottles are no fun. Use a cork if you think you may forget and the bottle will “burp” itself.
If left out of the fridge, it will continue to ferment. And ferment. And ferment.
Eventually, your Kombucha will become a fine vinegar, which is great for salad dressings.
Enjoy your Kombucha journey, wherever it takes you!
If you have any questions or need further information, do not hesitate to contact us at:
Love from the MamaZing family.
These instructions are also on our website at: www.mamazing.nz