General Kombucha Brewing Notes
1. Choosing Which Sugar
|Type Of Sugar
||This is the easiest type of sugar for the SCOBY to ferment, however it is the most highly processed type of sugar. For beginners this will be the easiest sugar to produce a pleasant tasting kombucha brew – however it is very difficult to find organic white sugar.
To avoid GMOs or pesticides – you may prefer to try organic evaporate cane sugar instead.
|Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar
||This is the closest thing to organic white sugar available. It is a bit harder for the SCOBY to digest so Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar can be a bit more work to produce a great tasting brew.
We personally recommend using this type of sugar.
||Brown sugar is simply highly processed white sugar that has had molasses added back in to create a richer flavour.
Sugar with high molasses content is difficult for the SCOBY to digest, creating a more ‘vinegary’ tasting kombucha.
The SCOBY may not be able to maintain a healthy level of acidity in the culture – increasing the risk of contamination and batch failure.
We recommend avoiding this type of sugar.
||Rapadura sugar creates a similar outcome to brown sugar – a strong, vinegar-like kombucha.
It would be preferable to brown sugar as rapadura sugar is usually less processed, however for taste and the health of the SCOBY we recommend avoiding rapadura sugar for kombucha.
||Honey is not a good option for kombucha as it introduces other bacterial strains that will compete with the SCOBY.
It is likely that honey will lead to contamination and failure of the batch.
||Natural sweeteners like stevia, agave, maple syrup and coconut sugar are not suitable for making kombucha and should be avoided.
All artificial sweetners like aspartame, sorbitol and xylitol will not work for kombucha at all.
To be safe – only use white sugar or Organic Evaporated Cane Crystals for homemade kombucha.
2. Choosing Which Tea
|Type Of Tea
||The fully fermented leaves of black tea allow for the easiest digestion of nutrients for the SCOBY. This is the best tea choice for a beginner kombucha brewer. Avoid black teas that use oils such as Earl Grey, Chai or other flavoured teas.
||Easy kombucha with a bold, fruity flavour – similar to apple cider.
||Green tea leaves are not fermented so the nutrients are harder for the SCOBY to process. Still, green tea kombucha can be very good – it may just need a bit more monitoring as it usually brews slightly quicker than black tea.
||A lighter coloured kombucha with a softer flavour – many people actually prefer green tea kombucha over traditional black tea brews.
||The Oolong tea leaves have been partially fermented so it sits somewhere between black and green tea in terms of flavour and brewing difficulty.
||The kombucha colour is more amber than green tea, and the flavour is complex.
||White tea is the least processed form of tea – making it the most work for the SCOBY. It is tricky to brew, so we suggest that you do a white and black tea blend with at least 25% black tea.
||A light coloured, light flavoured kombucha – something worth experimenting with!
||Herbal teas are not suitable as the kombucha base as they do not contain the right nutrients and often have oils that can harm the health of the SCOBY. Teas like Rooibos can be used in a mix with a black tea base.
||A sick SCOBY – best to stick to a black tea base or mix in additional flavouring after the fermentation is complete.
3. Avoiding Metal Containers & Utensils
For brewing kombucha it is critical to have a sterile environment that is also free of chemical contaminants. This is for two reasons – 1. To keep the SCOBY healthy and 2. To not pollute the kombucha brew.
The bacteria and yeast found in the SCOBY are sensitive to antibacterial soaps and detergents. It is critical that there is no bleach or detergent residue in the container you choose for your homemade kombucha.
As kombucha is very acidic (pH is normally 2.5 – 4.0) it can cause chemicals like phthalates, BPA, nickel and chromium to leach from the brewing container into the kombucha. This may contribute to a heavy metal and chemical build up in the body if kombucha is being consumed regularly.
It is also recommended to avoid using any metal utensils that will come in contact with the SCOBY – the ionic charges of metal can harm the good bacterial growth of the SCOBY and encourage the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Instead of using metal – choose wood or a hardy plastic.
4. The Brewing Environment
It is very important to have a clean space for brewing your homemade kombucha. Kombucha needs to be stored in a dark space where it will not be disturbed for the fermentation period. The ideal temperature range is about 20-25°C.
Make sure there is no dust, or other fermenting cultures (like sauerkraut or sourdough) in the same area to avoid contamination of the brew. This can even happen if the kombucha is brewed in the close proximity to the garbage where bread waste is stored.
Also check that the jar is covered appropriately to avoid any insects getting into the kombucha.
5. The Brewing Period
The brewing period of your kombucha will vary depending on the type of sugar, type of tea and temperature. Generally speaking, a good batch of kombucha will normally take about two weeks.
As the flavour of kombucha is influenced by personal preference – after about 10 days you may like to start taste testing to find your ideal balance of sweetness and tartness.
A shorter brew period will retain more sugar so will be much sweeter than a long brew. Throughout the fermentation process the sugar and caffeine content in the sweet tea is consumed by the SCOBY.
If you prefer a low sugar or low caffeine kombucha, it should brew for at minimum two weeks.