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Thread: Kombucha

  1. #1
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    Figured I'd start a thread, since I'm sure to have questions

    First, can I use green tea with orange peel, jasmine tea and other natural flavors plus soy lecithin?

    Got a couple scobies, starting a batch with sugar to see how it goes before moving on to honey.

  2. #2
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    Flavorings should be fine, as long as the base (meaning normal strength) is green or black. I don't know what soy lecithin is, so shouldn't take a shot at that one. Though when did not knowing ever stop me before ?
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  3. #3
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    I started some about a week and a half ago. I started with a bottle of commercial raw kombucha in a quart of sweet tea and am currently in the process of stepping up the starter just as I would with a yeast starter for beer.
    Something is definitely growing in there but, really, it just looks kinda disgusting---strands of slime hanging down from the surface! If it was in one of my yeast starters I'd throw it out. I'll stick with it until I have it stepped up to a gallon and then decide if I really want to taste it.
    Maybe I'll just have to break down and buy a SCOBY that already looks like a kombucha "mushroom".
    George

  4. #4
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    Sounds like its probably OK. It'll look like snots at first, then a clear gel on the surface with little bubbles trapped in it. Make sure it has access to air through a doubled cheesecloth cover or somesuch... oxygen is the key to helping the bugs you want to get a foothold, then their acids will supress most anything else.

    You don't really have to worry about timed step-ups like with saccharomyces, just let it go until a good scoby and strong acidity is present, then use that for the full batch.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  5. #5
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    Okaaaaaaaaay, just finished the first taste, should it taste like medicine? [img]smile.gif[/img]

    It wasn't too bad, I'm going to try a plain black tea for the next batch.

    Didn't find a floater in it, but got a big mouthful near the bottom, I'll watch for that in the future!

    Also, it didn't carbonate, should I have left it at room temp. for a few days after bottling? I put it straight into the fridge.

  6. #6
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    Closer like vinegary, more on the sweet side at first with a twang (sweet lemonade from a powder), then as more suger turns into more acids progressively tarter. There really should be a floatie scoby in it, clear but unmistakable. Perhaps try sampling it every three of four days next batch so you can "watch" the change.

    And yeah, room temp. The carbonation will stop when they use up the dissolved O2.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  7. #7
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    Where did you guys get your cultures from? I'm interested to try Kombucha.

  8. #8
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    You can go to any local food co-op, health food/granola-ey kind of place, or Whole Paycheck (er, Whole Foods) or Vitamin Cottagey places. Make sure it's unpasteurized. The price will be pretty amazing, like everything else in there, but it's a one-time purchase if you maintain your culture. There are a surprising amount of geeks who do this out there, you might try a Craig's List or other local resource to see if someone will give you a culture. I had planned on making a batch on Sunday, but after the honey-do list got filed I spent my weekend making beer, planting trees, transporting construction waste, getting tomato starts, and bringing in more topsoil. Oh, and checked my queen cell too!

    If folks want, and if I get organized, we can trade viable scobies someday for those that can't find them locally. Actually you can get them online too if you dig a little.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  9. #9
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    I posted on the "Barter Board" on homesteadingtoday.com, if you want I can send you one in about a week and a half for postage.

  10. #10
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    dcross,

    That would be great! What do I need to do?

  11. #11
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    PM me your info, and I'll send it out when it's ready. Mail me a check for the postage when you get it.

  12. #12
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    I started mine a few weeks ago using a bottle of GT'S Organic Raw Kombucha as a starter. I've had a few concerns along the way but I think everything has worked out okay. We went through a kinda disgusting period where it looked like somebody dropped a lunger in my brew pot but now it looks more like what I had been expecting.
    I took my first sip today and, by golly, it's pretty darn good!
    George

  13. #13
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    Nice work! You'll rarely ever touch soda again if you're like me. Remember that it'll keep souring with time so bottle it where you like it flavorwise (or bottle some and let the rest keep progressing for comparisons).

    Just in time for a hot summer! Didja happen to use any honey?
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  14. #14
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    Didja happen to use any honey?
    Oh, I'll get around to it eventually but this time I was more interested in getting a good healthy brew going. Now that I have a good strong starter I'll be a little more interested in experimenting.
    I have this one in a sun tea jar---one gallon widemouth glass jar with a built-in spigot---do you foresee any problems with this setup? Will the spigot likely cause sanitation/contamination problems? So far there is no leakage and I haven't spotted any fruit flies hanging around the spigot!
    George

  15. #15
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    No, it should work fine. The wide mouth is great for O2 exchange if you can cover it with cheesecloth or such. You're right on to identify the stopper as a difficult-to-sanitize point. Between batches, remove the spigot by unscrewing it. Pop out the rubber stopper/button assembly from the housing. Sanitize the rubber bit, the spigot, the spring and the gasket when you sanitize the jug. Re-assemble and you're all set. As long as you don't USE the spigot, there shouldn't be anything to attract our little winged contaminators (or if they do investigate, the unused seal should keep them outta trouble). The spring may be vulnerable to the acids in kombucha over time if you do use the spigot; keep a relaxed eye out for corrosion.

    If you'd like to do more than a couple batches in that vessel, you could also consider replacing the spigot with a rubber stopper, maybe a #4? Bring the jug along when you get the stopper to be sure. Insert the sanitized stopper from the inside and it won't pop out (unless you bump it).

    I'm in the process of converting my old 6.5-gallon kombucha pail into a swarm catching bucket and will dedicate a new vessel to the service of scoby soon!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  16. #16
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    I'm in the process of converting my old 6.5-gallon kombucha pail into a swarm catching bucket and will dedicate a new vessel to the service of scoby soon!
    Can I assume your kombucha pail is a plastic bucket? Can it still be used for beer brewing or do you run into vinegar flavors and weird yeast strains? I've heard that brewers have dedicated fermenters and syphons for lambics for these reasons; is this a similar situation?
    George

  17. #17
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    It is an old bottling bucket I had laying around with a stopper to close the valve hole. I do have mostly dedicated plastic equipment for kombucha for exactly that reason, though I've never been able to ascertain whether the kombucha bugs are as tenacious as the bretts. My transfer tubing, however, I've used interchangeably. A hot water rinse followed immediately by a Star San soak and I haven't had any problems yet. Metal bottling wand and aeration stone are boiled or baked occasionally. The vinegar flavors would be unlikely to cause problems as they ( acetobacter) require oxygen... no one's been able to really tell me what the other major players in Kombucha are.

    If we really wanted (I've considered it, what a dork), the Siebel Institute will do an "contaminant" assay in a packaged beer for you for a good fee... at least $50 if I recall. Maybe someday White Labs'll have a tube of kombucha's major players like we get for lambic/gueuze!

    I do all my beers, wines and meads in glass or occasionally stainless.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  18. #18
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    Does anyone have any good informational links about Kombucha. I'm especially interested in the microbiology and the history of it.

  19. #19
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    Unfortunately, none. Most of what you'll find says it'll cure cancer, replace human food as we know it, and bring about world peace. Actually just the cancer part, but you get the idea. Aside from the granolas, there's very little info I've been able to find on kombucha and certainly none that I feel is reliable, a couple quasi-scientific European studies cited selectively. Please share if you find anything!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  20. #20
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    There's as much information here as I have seen anywhere. http://users.bestweb.net/~om/~kombu/...earchLinks.htm
    Not all of the links work and it will take a bit of surfing to find all of the information available.
    George

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