I designed this course to teach people who are new to fermentation how you can brew and maintain a kombucha culture at home. We will discuss what exactly kombucha is and how you can save money by making your own.
The course is taught mostly by short videos but all content is also provided in a written summary for each lecture and PDF's. It is structured in the order in which you would prepare a batch of Kombucha and separated into the following main topics:
Why take this course?
- It will save you money
- It is taught by an experienced & passionate brewer with a microbiology background
- It is packed with information while also being efficient in the delivery
- All the lessons are to-the-point so you don't get bored
- Each lesson has resources for you to use and come back to so that you don't have to watch whole videos again
- Course structure
- What is Kombucha?
- Meet your instructor
- Ingredients required for brewing
- Kombucha brewing & storage supplies
- ¾ to 1 cup Sugar; I use fair trade organic cane sugar- it is the easiest for scoby to breakdown and I’ve found that is makes the best kombucha. The sugar and caffeine are food for the Kombucha culture and most of it is used up by the mother in the fermentation process. This means that you will only consume a very small amount of it in the actual tea.
- 6-8 caffeinated tea bags, I use organic green or black tea
- 1 cup starter liquid; you can use liquid left over from your previous batch of kombucha.
- 8 - 15 cups boiled/purified water
- Kombucha scoby
- Fresh fruit, ginger or fruit juice for flavoring
- Apple cider vinegar and natural soap for cleaning
- A clean pot for boiling water and combining sugar and tea
- Coffee filters or a tightly woven cheese cloth to cover the mouths of the jars
- Rubber band to secure the cheese cloth or coffee filter
- Glass gallon jars
- Glass growlers or other tightly sealing bottle/jar
- What is first stage fermentation?
- How to clean your supplies before brewing
- How to brew your first batch of tea
- How to add your freshly brewed sweetened tea to your culture
- What is second stage fermentation?
- How to pour off your kombucha after first stage fermentation
- Flavouring your kombucha
- Ways to drink & enjoy
- Gently pour the kombucha from your main reservoir into the growlers, with flavoring ingredients already added.
- Fill the bottles almost to the top, leaving only a few cm. Do this slowly as not to disrupt the scoby too much.
- Continue filling bottles until there are only a few inches (~1-3 cups) left with the scoby in the main vessel.
- Seal your bottles and store in a warm and dark place for ~2 to 5 days, after which you can move to the refrigerator.
- How to clean jars
- How to separate scobys as they multiply
- Storage of extra scobys aka scoby hotels
As the culture matures you may notice that your scoby starts to thicken and multiple, forming multiple layers usually at the top of the jar with each brew. With clean hands, you can gently pull the layers apart and store extra scobys in a scoby hotel. If the scobys don’t easily separate, you can use a stainless steal knife or pair of scissors to cut the scobys apart.
Storage of extra scobysOver time you will start to accumulate scobys as the culture grows and multiples. It is a good idea to save the extras so that you have backups if your main scoby gets contaminated or molds. You can create a scoby hotel by storing all the extra scobys together in a galloon jar. They can often exist in the jar for months before you need to feed or clean to remove excess yeast and keep the bacteria:yeast ratio in check.The liquid in the scoby hotel is great for using as starter liquid in any new culture or to give your current culture a boost.
Do not store extra scobys in the refrigerator! This can kill them or cause them to mold!
- Mold: it is actually quite rare for the kombucha culture to mold, but you should still observe the scoby for any signs of mold. Discoloration is not mold, mold will usually look fuzzy and will often grow on the top of the scoby. That said, if you suspect mold discard the batch immediately, compost the scoby and clean the jar very well. You will have to start a fresh culture (hopefully you’ve been saving your scobys!)
- Fruit Fly’s: Fruit fly’s are nasty little guys! They can get in through the holes of cheesecloth and lay eggs in the scoby. I have had two cases of fruit fly contamination and had to throw out two cultures. The best way to avoid this I have found is to use coffee filters. I usually double up with two filters. It still lets enough air flow in while keeping the bugs out.
- Chlorine: It is best to use purified or filtered water for your kombucha. The chlorine in tap water can kill some of the healthy bacteria in the culture and throw off the balance of the culture. I have found the boiling tap water for ~10mins before adding tea works and I haven’t had any issues.
- Bumpy holey scoby: This is totally normal and is caused by gaseous byproducts of fermentation. As the yeast and bacteria ferment the tea and sugar, carbon dioxide is produced as a byproduct; this is what makes the tea fizzy. The scoby in the jar creates a seal that traps the gases inside.
- Discoloration: It is normal for the scoby to darken as it gets more mature. I have seen a range of colours in my scobys from white to brown. As long as the culture looks healthy, aka no mold, and makes yummy tea you are fine to keep using it.
- Use glass for your main brewing vessel, extra scoby storage and for second stage fermentation.
- Store kombucha in a dark, warm place where it won’t be disturbed. The ideal temperature to keep the yeast bacteria balance in check is ~20-30°C
- Allow for airflow in your main vessel and any other jars that hold scobys.
- Do not use antibacterial soap to clean any of the jars. Vinegar and water work best however I have had success using a gentle natural soap and rinsing very well after.
- Never store scobys in the refrigerator
- Wash your hands very well every time you handle the scoby
- Scoby thickness; a thin scoby takes longer to ferment
- Too much sugar to the tea. When there is excess sugar it can actually cause the yeast in the culture to become dormant, which will slow or halt the fermentation process
- Temperature; too low and too high can cause issues
- Not enough starter liquid
- Poor airflow. The bacteria in the kombucha culture require oxygen in order to live and ferment the tea. This is why it is important to cover your jars with a breathable filter to allow adequate airflow to the culture
- Scoby was refrigerated prior to brewing – never store scobys in the fridge
- Antibacterial soap was used for cleaning and not properly rinsed
- Wrong sugar type used, as mentioned stevia cannot be broken down by the culture and should not be used
- Wrong tea used. Avoid using herbal teas or teas that have oils and additives in them
- You should have access to a clean kitchen to work in and a dark space to store the scoby where it will not be disturbed
- Supplies required will be covered in section 2 "Brew preparation"
- Brew tea to feed your home kombucha culture
- Properly clean and sanitize equipment for brewing
- Create custom flavours
- Maintain a healthy culture that keeps producing delicious tea
- Grow scobys
Amber Brown is a Vancouver based Yoga Instructor and Medical Microbiology Technologist with a passion for health and the outdoors.
Amber has been teaching yoga since 2008 and brewing kombucha for 9+ years. Her passion for health and knowledge of microbiology have contributed to her understanding of what makes an incredibly delicious and healthy batch of Kombucha.
Amber has worked with the Globe & Mail, producing a series of online yoga instructional videos, and taught Kombucha brewing workshops and information sessions in Vancouver. Now she wants to share her passion and knowledge of Kombucha & fermentation with the online community.
You can often find her one of three places: on her yoga mat, in the lab, or exploring in the mountains!