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Does it matter which way up the culture is when it goes into the
sweetened tea, and what is the smooth side up?
At the beginning your culture will work
equally well either way up, but after the first fermentation the
under-side will gradually develop a dull brown film and it is
important to keep this as the underside in further brews. The upper
side, which remains the same colour and doesn't have the brown film,
is the smooth side.
What happens if my culture sinks to the
bottom of the bowl when I put it in, and it stays there?
It doesn't matter if it floats or sinks in
the liquid. Given the right conditions and ingredients a new
'offspring' will always form on the surface of the liquid. You will
find, probably within 2-3 brews when it is fully active, your
'mother' culture will be more likely to float.
What should the Kombucha tea taste like?
Each person has their own idea as to when
their Kombucha tea is ready, depending on personal taste. Try to
stay 'in tune' with your fermenting Kombucha so that you learn to
make it well and achieve the flavour you prefer. Do not be put off
because you have so far only been able to produce a sour-tasting
drink. When brewed correctly, Kombucha tea can be absolutely
delicious. But to achieve this, you need to understand what is
happening in the whole process, and how and what you are doing to
affect the taste.
Some people enjoy and make their Kombucha to taste like a sharp
cider compared to others who achieve a more delicate, light Mosel
wine flavour. We prefer the special combination of using Japanese
green tea with dried elderflowers to produce a fresh, light taste,
but with the familiar 'zing' to it at full fermentation time.
Though each batch is different, Kombucha usually has little bubbles
of carbonic acid in it and can be slightly effervescent. It is all a
question of personal choice, but being better informed will enable
you to make that choice rather than turning your Kombucha tea
brewing into a hit-or-miss affair.
The taste and quality of Kombucha tea is affected in a number of
Kombucha tea making can become a fine art like wine-making, and
people have been known to organise parties and have great fun
tasting each other's and swapping tips. We even have a friend who
decided to do something a bit different at her local church and
organized a Kombucha tea party to bring interested people together
for a tasting and information. Some parishioners had experienced
great relief from their arthritic knees and the rest of the
congregation wanted to know what the magic formula was! Kombucha is
a great community builder.
- the type of tea used
- adding herbs, fruit teas, ginger etc.
- the quality and type of water used
- the health of the 'mother' culture
- the 'starter' Kombucha tea and its quality
- temperature and method of fermentation
- the type and size of container used
- the length of fermentation time
- and of course the amount of TLC (tender loving care) that
was put into it too
should I do to test when the brew is ready?
A day or two before you think your Kombucha
tea may be ready, remove the cover from your brewing container. You
will see that a new 'offspring' culture, like a cream or whitish
thick gelatinous skin, has begun to form over the surface of the
liquid (or on top of your 'mother' culture if she is 'floating').
The new culture never forms underneath the 'mother' culture. Ease
the 'mother' culture and 'offspring' aside and remove a little of
the liquid to taste, with either a spoon or a small glass. If the
Kombucha tea still tastes sweet, cover and leave it for another day
or so and then re-taste. When all the sweet taste has gone, then it
is ready. If the beverage tastes too sharp or slightly vinegary,
then it has been left too long, and you will make a note to taste
and stop the fermentation sooner next time. (The Kombucha tea will
still be all right to drink at this stage and you can always add
some water or fruit juice if you want to make it more palatable.)
Why does Kombucha need to be in the dark?
A Sunlight and
ultra-violet light are harmful to certain micro-organisms and will
inhibit Kombucha's vital processes. It is therefore important to
keep your fermen-ting beverage and culture in the dark or shade. If
you have your container on a kitchen surface your Kombucha may be
exposed to too much light. To shade it, fold a tea-cloth in half and
place over the secured muslin cover, creating a small peep-hole at
the front to allow air in. If you are using a glass container then
place it inside a box or with something suitable to shade the sides
of the bowl as well.
Here are some guidelines for the recommended
daily amount of Kombucha tea for older children with starting
amounts in brackets. This can be reduced to as little as 1 teaspoon
if there is extreme weakness or illness. (See - "Contra-indications"
below for infants and babies)
- a child of 6-8 years 5-10 mls (1-2 teaspoons) three times a
- a child of 8-10 years 10 mls (1 dessert spoon) three times a
- a child of 10-14 years 15 mls (1 tablespoon) three times a
Water, fruit juice or cordial may be added to make the drink more
acceptable for a younger (or older) palate. These amounts have been
suggested through research and investigation and have proven to be
ideal for the body to use for optimum benefits without overloading
the system. There are times, however, when you might need some extra
help such as in cases of cancer. The well-respected German
specialist, Dr. Rudolph Sklenar, recommended that the daily amount
could be increased (to about 1/2 -litre) for the treatment of
pre-cancer (the preliminary stage) and increased further in cases of
established cancer to 1-litre per day (spread over a 24-hour
The above increases are to be regarded only as a recommendation for
life-threat-ening illnesses and not as 'the norm'. In fact it can be
harmful for those people in reasonable health to take too much
Kombucha. Some people, in their desire to get well, may be tempted
to take the view about certain beneficial substances: "If a little
does me good a lot will make me even better".
Even though Kombucha has been sensationalised over the years with
names to tempt over-consumption, such as Miracle Cure, Tea of Long
Life, Wonder Tea, Gift of Life, to name but a few, it is important
to resist the urge to overindulge in Kombucha tea in the hope of
feeling better faster. However good a food, drink or health
supplement may be for you, you should never risk taking it to
excess. In extreme - and, thankfully, rare - cases, carrot juice and
even water have proved fatal when consumed in huge quantities. And
the same applies to Kombucha. Overdosing on it could lead to your
body becoming overloaded with the very substance that you took to do
it good in the first place.
Can I take Kombucha continuously or do I need to take an occasional
It is wise, as with all kinds of medication
and supplements, to take a break from Kombucha periodically.
Otherwise the body can become too dependent on it and may begin to
lose its effectiveness. We recommend that you leave off taking
Kombucha for a week at least every 2-3 months. Some people decide to
take one week off every month or one month off in every six. Choose
whatever feels right for you - but remember it is important to take
One word of caution: If you are ill, or there is an imbalance, you
may want to take a break 6-9 months after starting to take Kombucha.
If you take a break too soon, you may experience a return of your
symptoms. If you notice only a slight setback when you stop taking
Kombucha tea, you will probably decide to continue with the break,
but make it shorter at the beginning and build up on this over a
period of time. So, be guided by your overall health and stability,
and use your intuition and commonsense to decide how and when to
take your breaks.
Should I take Kombucha before or after meals?
Dr. Sklenar, a Kombucha pioneer from Germany,
suggests that the first glass should be taken before breakfast on an
empty stomach and the rest during the day after meals. The reasons
are that he probably wanted to cover the broadest range of
effectiveness possible where Kombucha will work on an empty or full
Should I continue to drink Kombucha if I don't feel any benefit?
It may be that you need to give Kombucha more
time. After all, some of us have given our bodies many years of
gradual abuse, through second-rate nutrition and poor lifestyle, so
it may take time before we notice any real improvement and there is
always room for some more improvement! Many people use natural
medicine to prevent them from becoming ill.
Why is Kombucha claimed to be a cure-all?
A Articles in popular
journals are frequently sensational and often claim this, but we
certainly don't. What happens is simply explained - when the body is
out of balance it complains and can throw up a whole host of
symptoms which manifest in different ways to different people. Each
person has their own areas of weakness, e.g. the skin, stomach,
liver, kidneys, joints etc. Kombucha sets to work cleansing,
strengthening and balancing the body, helping it to work better and
bringing it into a state of better health. In so doing, each person
can experience their own individual symptoms subsiding or
disappearing. This explains the long list of symptoms that Kombucha
has supposedly 'cured' when they are in fact the ever-growing range
of symptoms that many, many people have all been helped with.
QIf it is so
wonderful, why don't physicians recommend it?
A We have found that a
growing number of doctors who have read up on Kombucha or have used
it with their patients encourage its use, such as Dr Campbell-Brown
of the Kombucha Tea Network uk. Unfortunately some doctors may be
concerned about disapproval by other doctors, and fearful of
speaking openly about it. From the constant feedback we receive, we
have learned of doctors who, on seeing improvements in chronic and
stubborn conditions, have told their patients to continue taking
Kombucha. Some doctors have even asked their patients for more
information and a piece of culture so that they too can start
brewing and drinking it themselves. We hope that this book will
encourage and stimulate more interest among doctors.
QIs there danger
from contamination in making Kombucha tea, this seems to be put
forward as a potential risk?
A Kombucha has a great
capacity for regeneration. If it did not have this high biological
energy, it would not have survived its long time span from the
Chinese Empire more than 2,000 years ago. Warnings of it being
dangerous to make Kombucha at home are mischievous and come from a
perspective of ignorance, economic interest or a cynical medical
profession. Follow the normal, sensible hygiene rules we suggest and
you will come to no harm whatsoever.
QAre there any
A Yes - good health!
Kombucha is a product of nature, and as such doesn't have the
side-effects you might get with chemical drugs. The main effects to
be aware of at the beginning may be those of detoxification which
can be eased in more gently.
QWill Kombucha throw
up a lot of symptoms together when I first start to drink it?
A A few people have
reported a 'healing crisis' when first using Kombucha. This can be
scary if you don't know what's happening. The best way to avoid this
is to drink only small amounts of Kombucha to start with and to
gradually build it up.
QCan I become
dependent on or addicted to Kombucha?
A Not addicted, but it
is always wise to give the body a break when using any kind of
health supplements, so that it doesn't get used to them or they lose
This is a very simple technique that anyone can do at home if we
have some uncertainty about a particular food or drink. We can then
find out whether or not it is beneficial to us. A food which is good
for one person is not necessarily good for another, and within a
diet some foods are better for us than others and also at different
times in our lives. Our bodies are constantly shifting and changing
through our various ages, and the daily stresses and strains we put
onto it. These can make us more susceptible to allergies or passions
for certain foods.To maintain a balance in health we would be wise
to eat or abstain for a while from certain foods in order to heal.
It is very important to listen to our bodies needs, and
muscle-testing is one way to help us do this.
How to Muscle Test
Based on the understanding and belief that the body has an
intelligence and does not lie, you can communicate with it by asking
questions with a 'Yes' and a 'No' answer.
The person being tested holds a sample of
food or drink - in this case Kombucha tea, in their right hand
close to the chest and extends their left arm out to the side.
(See Fig.22) The tester places their left hand on the persons
right shoulder and places their right hand onto the person's
A tension needs to be set up here where the person being tested
resists pressure from the tester who is trying to push the arm
down at the wrist - don't be too strong though, a medium
pressure and resistance is all that is needed.
The person being tested asks: "Is this Kombucha tea good for me?" If
the answer is "Yes", meaning that it is beneficial, there will be a
good resistance, but if the answer is "
Before starting, try experimenting first with some obvious foods or
substances that you know will be harmful to you, such as furniture
polish or a bottle of turpentine. You only need a small sample of
food e.g.; butter in a dish, a piece of fruit or use it whole, like
an apple. With some fresh foods you may need to peel it first e.g. a
banana where the fruit inside may be beneficial to you but the skin
will be harmful. So be precise with the food and questions you are
asking, and you will receive the correct answer.
Tea to use - Green or Black?
Q What are black and
green teas - and which is best to use?
A Both come from the
same tea bush, Camellia sinesis (remember that tea is indeed a
herb). Ordinary black tea of the kind commonly used in the West -
such as Ceylon, Lipton's, English Breakfast, Typhoo etc - is
fermented. Green tea (Japanese or Chinese) is unfermented and has
many health-giving properties.
Black Tea is often referred to in Eastern literature and was used
for medicinal purposes. It was only later that it became a luxury,
then a household item. Black tea is fermented before drying, which
darkens the leaves and results in a brown-coloured beverage.
Green Tea is not fermented, instead, as soon as the leaves are
picked, they are lightly steamed, during which oxidation occurs and
the tannins and chlorophyll are preserved. Leaves are then rolled
and dried. You can also buy semi-fermented teas such as Oolong
(Formosa). In China and Japan, people are still known to eat the
leaves after drinking green tea, because of their high mineral and
vitamin C content.
Being British we enjoy a good quality cup of tea and have always
thought that it made good sense to use a good quality tea for our
Kombucha tea making. During the years we have been making Kombucha
we have enjoyed a wide variety of flavours from using different
teas. Black tea tends to produce a a stronger, fuller-bodied
flavour, while green tea's taste tends to be lighter and fresher.
Green and black tea can be mixed too.
Most historical scientific publications discuss the use only of
black tea (compared to other herbs) in making Kombucha. They point
to its benefits as the best medium in which to brew the Kombucha
culture because it:
However, since studying the latest research on the healing
properties of green tea, we now use it mainly for our Kombucha tea,
thereby producing an even more potent and remarkable health drink.
Here is what we have found:-
- is rich in minerals and nutrients
- has a high purine content, which the bacteria and yeasts
need for metabolism
- produces the highest concentrations of lactic and glucuronic
Despite living in one of the most high-pressured and polluted urban
environments on earth, according to a recent study conducted by the
National Cancer Institute, Japanese women (who traditionally drink
green tea) enjoy the lowest rate of cancer (especially breast
cancer), heart disease and have the greatest longevity of all
According to a 1995 British Medical Journal report: "Japanese green
tea has been found to reduce incidence of heart disease". The effect
of green tea drinking was analysed in a study of 1371 men in
Yoshimi, Japan whose most common beverage was green tea. The results
showed that: "The tea reduced the incidence of coronary heart
disease, and cardiovascular diseases in general". It was also shown
to "improve liver function, therefore providing some protection
against liver, colon and lung cancer".
Tea as an Anti-Oxidant
One reason why green tea helps prevent cancer and other diseases is
because of the polyphenols it contains. These are powerful
anti-oxidants, the most potent of which is EGCg. (During
fermentation black tea loses certain amounts of beneficial
polyphenols including EGCg). The polyphenols fight damage from free
radicals responsible for cellular damage caused by toxic chemicals
and air pollution implicated in a host of diseases. Victims of the
atom bomb were known to have drunk green tea to help remove
radiation effects from their bodies.
Q I am very
health-conscious - do I have to use white sugar?
A Many health-conscious
people are surprised to be told to use refined white sugar in making
Kombucha tea and ask whether there is an alternative.
Just as we need various sugars in order to survive, the Kombucha
culture requires sugar and energy, in addition to the minerals and
nitrogen it gets from tea, in order for the process of metabolism to
take place. The culture cannot provide its own, therefore you have
to provide sugar for it. Sugar is used in assimilation and
respiration for most of the fermentation, and during its course is
broken down and transformed into acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes
and carbon dioxide. Sugar is also involved in the propagation of the
Kombucha culture. At the end of the fermentation period, if done
correctly, the sugar will have been virtually all converted and will
therefore have been rendered harmless.
Various sugars need to be looked at in order to establish which is
better to use for the Kombucha fermentation:
We decided from this, and from other research
and information, that unrefined or raw brown sugar was not suitable
for the Kombucha fermentation. Refined white sugar - either
granulated or pure cane sugar - is preferable because:
- Household Sugar (granulated) - is refined white sugar and is
- Brown Sugar - most brown sugars, generally considered a more
healthy choice than white, are only refined white sugar which
has got its colour from a small amount of caramel or molasses
added to it.
- Unrefined Brown Sugar - this is raw sugar and has a very
- Raw Cane Sugar - is made mostly into refined white sugar
with the remainder steam-heated and sold as pure cane sugar.
- Pure Cane Sugar - is a healthier alternative to granulated
white sugar and contains vitamins, minerals and trace elements
- In tests using both unrefined brown sugar and raw cane sugar
in the Kombucha fermentation the following results were found:
- The solution was dark and cloudy
- The taste was quite unpleasant
- A poorly-formed culture had formed
- There was more yeast sediment
- It contained fewer health-giving organic acids
- It is transformed during the fermentation process
- It provides a good nutrient solution for the metabolism of
the Kombucha tea
- A healthy culture forms on which to propagate further
- It produces a beverage high in organic acids
- It makes a good and palatable drink
- Why Chemical-Free?
Q Why is there so much
emphasis placed on using filtered water in making Kombucha tea?
A Water is fundamental
to life itself; after all the human body is composed of as much as
70% water and cannot sustain life long without it. Our veins and
arteries are like natural rivers coursing through our bodies taking
nutrients wherever they are needed. It is obvious then, that pure,
sparkling, 'live' highland spring water will do you much more good
than the adulterated, chemically treated water that comes out of
most of our taps.
You have to ask yourself - why are more and more people getting ill
with cancer, Alzheimer's disease, immune deficiency diseases such as
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, allergies, eczema and asthma? And why are
some of these affecting our children at a younger age than ever
before? Our whole body's system is becoming weakened and more toxic
due to the pollutants and chemicals that we absorb over a long
period of time, some of which comes from the chemically treated
water that we drink.
The Chemical Cocktails added to our
Water that comes out of our taps is sometimes cloudy, and can have
the familiar smell of the chlorine which is added to kill bacteria,
in addition to other chemicals. Some authorities also add aluminium
sulphate and fluorides, the long term effects of which are causing
controversy which has not yet been resolved. Chemicals such as
nitrates, pesticides and herbicides which are poured onto our
farmland in huge amounts, leach into the underground water table, as
do the chemical effluent toxic substances and industrial wastes
which also pollute rivers. These, in combination with chemicals used
in filtration plants to recycle water, the heavy metals in old lead
pipes and the toxic substances released from new plastic replacement
ones make an unpleasant cocktail for our precious bodies to cope
with. It must be said that some water authorities are trying harder
than others to reduce some of these problems. Veins and arteries,
which carry nutrients, will also carry the chemicals that we absorb
into our bloodstream affecting all areas of the body. Our immune
systems become weakened, we may develop allergies, function less
well and can become ill. You have a right to know what is in your
water, so some judicious enquiries would be a good idea!
Water - Is it an Alternative?
Bottled water is often recommended for Kombucha tea making. However,
recent research has shown that most bottled waters are not safe.
Bottled water companies do not have to meet the same safety
standards as the major water authorities. No information is usually
required on the presence of pesticides and herbicides, and they need
to test fewer than 25% of the substances that are required of the
water authorities. For example, excessive mineral contamination is
usually not monitored.
The other factor is that bottled water, which is usually sold in
plastic bottles, sits in warehouses and on supermarket shelves,
developing bacteria. This, and the toxicity of the plastic, do not
make it a good alternative source for Kombucha tea.
Need to Filter our Water
Chlorine which is added to water supplies to kill harmful bacteria
will, unfortunately, also affect the millions of friendly bacteria
in Kombucha. That is why the water you use for brewing your Kombucha
tea should be filtered. This can be done by using a cartridge and
jug, or a system plumbed in under the sink. Jug filters will remove
chlorine from water and make it taste better. However, only the best
quality water filters will remove aluminium, bacteria and heavy
metals, like lead, along with organic polluants such as herbicides
and pesticides. Water filtering systems do vary, so we would advise
you to do your own research and always to buy the best you can
use of Vinegar as the first "Starter"
Q What is the purpose of using
vinegar in the beginning with my first batch of Kombucha?
A The addition of an acid
'starter' at the beginning of the fermentation process is to
increase acidity and activate bacteria in the medium and also to act
as protection against unfavourable micro-organisms.
Q Does vinegar have to be used
with every batch?
A No, cider or wine vinegar is
only used in the first batch you make if no 'mother' starter brew
(the actual Kombucha tea) is available. After this the 'mother'
Kombucha tea only is used as a starter. If vinegar was used on its
own every time or
in addition to the 'mother' starter, it would make the Kombucha tea
too acidic and vinegary. You can however use 1-2
tablespoons/15-30mls of cider or wine vinegar in the 2nd and 3rd
batches you make until the Kombucha tea becomes fully active. It can
also be used a 'kick-start' (as we call it) if the ferment seems to
need a boost and the beverage has become, or is still, a bit flat
with resulting thin cultures. Other causes should be looked at also
e.g. insufficient heat etc.
Q Can malt or distilled
vinegar be used as a starter, or do I have to use cider or wine
vinegar and why?
A Always use organic cider or
wine vinegar. In the USA (though not in Europe) the FDA permits
distilled vinegar to be made from petroleum rather than food-grade
products! So keep those vinegars for washing windows only.
(top of page)
Containers - What is the right Type?
Q I have a big glass jar, will
this be OK to use for Kombucha brewing?
A The container needs to have
a wide opening at the top as the fermenting Kombucha brew needs a
good supply of oxygen to work effectively. A bowl is much better
than a long tall jar with a small opening.
Q What type of container is
best for my Kombucha brewing, and can I use plastic?
A Your container needs to be
made of a material that is non-toxic and will not have chemicals
released into the acidic medium. The recommended ones are made of:-
glass, china, high-glaze porcelain or enamel (unchipped). 'Pyrex'
glass bowls are good and easily obtained in most hardware stores
across the world. Use the 3-litre/6-pint size for the batch brewing
method recipe in this book.
Materials which are not advised include: aluminium, plastics (even
food-grade), ceramic, some coloured glass and lead crystal glass.
The reason is that acids in Kombucha, notably acetic acid, will
leach toxins from these types of containers into the beverage.
Aluminium - is widely advised against. It is common knowledge
that once a can of tomatoes is opened, the contents must be poured
out immediately, because the action of air with the acids in the
tomatoes will leach aluminium from the tin into the produce. As a
general rule, all aluminium cooking utensils should be banished from
the kitchen as this metal is detrimental to health. Research has
also linked aluminium with Alzheimer's disease.
Plastics - There is much to be aware of in our modern
over-use of plastics. A number of companies have developed a wide
range of synthetic oil-based products under umbrella patents for
commercial use. One of these products, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), is
now used in an enormous range of applications including kitchen and
household products. No long-term research has ever been carried out
on the possible systemic effects. However, our naturopath colleague
warns us about the overuse of plastics in the food industry; there
is evidence that the hardening agents used can enter the food and
then our bodies. Over time joints are affected, hence the increase
in the risk of arthritis.
There is also evidence that PVC and chemical compounds used to make
plastic more stable and impact-resistant are potential carcinogens
and may disrupt normal hormonal function. Other dysfunctions that
may result are impotence, birth defects, menstrual disorders and
disruption of the endocrine system.
We want you to make a health drink, not a cocktail of toxins, so it
is important that Kombucha is made in a container that is suitable
for the purpose, so definitely no plastics. We would also seriously
suggest that we all look at our present uses of plastics in food
preparation and storage and in the home as well.
Ceramic and Lead Glass Crystal - both these products use
metals either in the glaze or in the contents of the glass, which
will leach into the Kombucha beverage and are not recommended. NB:
The ceramic Continuous Fermentation jars are made with a non-lead
QAll the sweetness has gone
but it still tastes flat. Why?
A Check that your brewing
temperature is warm enough and that the Kombucha 'starter' has been
added. It can also take 2-3 brews to come up to full strength when
first starting off. Try adding 1-2 tablespoons of cider or wine
vinegar as a 'kick-start' with your next batch. If the Kombucha tea
still doesn't improve, then get another new healthy culture and
Q What is the sediment left on
the bottom of my brewing bowl?
A These are old yeast cells
and can be left in the bottom of the container if you are making a
new batch immediately. Rinse the container after every few
fermentations or each time you brew if you prefer.
Q Nothing seems to be
happening, what's gone wrong?
A By about the third day of
fermentation, you should see signs of a thin opaque film beginning
to cover the surface of the liquid. If you don't see this, check
that your temperature is high enough. Most slow or under-performing
cultures do not have enough warmth. Also, did you add the starter
liquid? If you think that you have done everything correctly, sit
tight and leave well alone. If by the seventh day nothing is
happening, try a new culture.
about Kombucha Tea
Q Can I drink the beverage as
soon as it is ready?
A It is better to leave it for
at least 3-5 days before drinking to give the Kombucha tea a fuller,
rounder flavour, but this is not essential. Some people believe that
the beverage tastes even better after a few weeks of storage.
Q If I put the live beverage
in the refrigerator, will this make it less active
A No, the fermentation process
slows down almost to a halt but the 'live' qualities of the beverage
are still very much present.
Q If the drink is too sour for
me, can I add more sugar to the recipe?
A This is not the answer. Stop
the fermentation process earlier, just at the point where the sweet
taste has gone and before it has begun to turn sour/vinegary. The
recipe has been worked out exactly to enable the right amount of
sugar in the given volume of liquid to be converted, resulting in a
beverage which contains the highest possible proportion of all its
You can always add some fruit juice to the Kombucha tea if it is a
bit sour to make it more palatable. If it has turned completely to
Kombucha vinegar, do not drink the full recommended amount. You
could safely drink only 1-2 tablespoons, though, in some water or
Q Why does my Kombucha tea
foam when I pour it into a bottle?
A The foam is caused by
carbonation - that is, carbon dioxide released through exposure to
air - and is quite normal. It is a sign of a healthy beverage.
Sometimes it is quite fizzy and frothy when poured, at other times
much less so.
About the Kombucha Culture
You must remember that the Kombucha culture is a living organism and
should be treated with due respect by ensuring that it always has an
adequate nutrient solution and supply of oxygen to keep it well and
QWhy is my new 'offspring'
thin, and what should I do with it?
A The Kombucha Tea can take
2-3 brews to come up to full activity and form a strong new
'offspring'. The donor of your starter 'mother' culture probably
stored it in the refrigerator where it was in semi-hibernation.
Remember, it is a living organism. The Kombucha Tea from the first
few brews will still be good to drink, but should get noticeably
vibrant and stronger by about the 3rd ferment. The 'offspring' will
also start getting thicker. If it is paper-thin, either discard or
compost it. An 'offspring' with some substance, though not thick and
healthy enough to be used on its own, can be used, together with the
original 'mother' culture for the next brew or two.
Q Can I give my original piece
of starter culture away to a new Kombucha brewer if I have only used
A Yes, if you are satisfied
that you are producing substantial new cultures - but always keep at
least one good back-up culture for yourself in case anything ever
Q Does it matter if the
culture has got holes or a tear in it?
A No, not at all. It may only
affect the look of the new one forming; i.e. it may be a bit patchy
in thickness (but not always - it could form perfectly). It doesn't
really matter what shape it is, as long as it is a healthy piece of
culture. To be sure of obtaining a completely smooth culture, if
this is your goal, let it fall to the bottom of the bowl and weight
it down with a clean object, so that a new unconnected culture forms
on the top of the liquid.
Q What are the brown stringy
bits, like tendrils, on the underside of the culture is this mould?
A No, they are dead yeast
cells and are absolutely harmless.
Q Should I wash the culture
A There is no reason to do so,
but, if you do, please don't use tap water. We usually give out
clean cultures without brown, stringy tendrils on them, so as not to
put off new brewers!
With clean hands as you are removing the culture from the ferment,
simply rinse the brown bits off into the liquid - (this gets
strained off pouring into bottles anyway) or rinse separately using
some spare Kombucha tea.
Q I can't separate the new
culture from the 'mother'?
A The new culture that forms
usually separates very easily from the 'mother', but sometimes they
fuse together. Simply snip them apart with scissors that have been
sterilised in boiling water and allowed to cool. Older cultures do
fuse together however if they are not separated with each ferment,
and are allowed to pile up one on top of another.
Q How do I know if my culture
A By obtaining it from a
responsible organisation or from someone whom you would consider to
be an intelligent, clean and caring person, capable of brewing
Kombucha correctly and responsibly. Ask the donor questions from the
information on page xx.
Q The culture pulls apart into
pieces very easily in my hands; is this normal?
A If the culture is actually
falling apart, then, no, it is not healthy and we would suggest that
you get a new healthy culture from a different source.
and Preserving Kombucha Tea and Culture
Q Can Kombucha tea be stored,
and if so how long for?
A When your Kombucha tea is
ready it is important to bottle and store it immediately in a cold
place to slow the fermentation right down. The refrigerator is
ideal, because its temperature virtually stops the fermentation
process, thereby preventing the tea from going sour. If you only
have enough room for one bottle of Kombucha at a time in the
refrigerator, then store the rest in as cool a place as possible,
such as a garage or outbuilding. In a warm room, fermentation will
continue slowly and gradually turn the Kombucha sour and vinegary.
Beware of commercial Kombucha beverage that is displayed out of a
refrigerator, as it will probably be sour if it has been there for a
week or two.
Q What are the small
jelly-like things growing in the Kombucha tea stored in the
A Even with efficient
filtering of the fermented liquid, you will not be able to eliminate
all yeast and bacteria cells. These stimulate new culture growth,
but the process is reduced enormously in the cold environment of the
refrigerator. It is a simple process to strain every glass you pour
through a small sieve. The jelly bits (we call them 'little
happenings') won't harm you and some people don't even bother to do
this. It shows the remarkable nature of the 'live' Kombucha tea
Q How can I store my spare
cultures and how long will they keep?
A They will keep for several
months stored in a refrigerator covered in a mixture of equal
quantities of Kombucha tea and cold sweet tea. Once restarted, the
culture may take 2-3 fermentations to come out of its
semi-hibernation state to a stage where it performs fully.
Sometimes, for no apparent reason, your culture may decide not to
work so well, so it is always advisable to have a spare one in hand.
If you are stockpiling several for a long period of time, strain off
this liquid periodically and top up with a fresh mixture. Remember
to rotate them, always giving away the oldest one first.
Q Can the cultures be frozen
or will it harm them?
A Freeze-drying is a
successful method for preserving Kombucha but needs special
equipment. If you use your domestic freezer it is very important to
do it properly. Your culture must be frozen as fast as possible. If
freezing takes place too slowly crystals will form which will damage
the Kombucha culture's cells.
Here is how to proceed:
Please note that your defrosted culture will take longer than usual
to fully ferment in the Kombucha tea, as it has been in hibernation.
But be patient, because just when you are tempted to give up,
thinking that it has probably died in suspended animation, you will
begin to see some activity, confirming that your culture is alive
and well. It may take several ferments for it to come back into full
active service again, but you will be rewarded well for your
- Switch on the fast-freeze setting of your freezer well in
advance so that the culture can be frozen as quickly as
- Place the culture and some fermented Kombucha tea in a
suitable container or plastic bag secured at the top.
- Label and freeze.
- When thawing out, place the block of ice containing the
culture into some fresh Kombucha beverage and allow to defrost
slowly at room temperature.
on Holiday or Vacation
Q What is the best way to keep
my Kombucha culture while I am away on holiday?
A If you are going away for
any length of time, the following method will help your culture
survive well: Place the culture in the brewing container and add the
usual amount of sweet tea and Kombucha 'starter' beverage. Cover
with muslin or a fine cotton fabric and secure with elastic. Stand
the container in a cool, clean place where the activity will be
slowed down considerably. You can leave it there for several weeks
or even months. When you return home simply pour off the liquid and
your culture will be ready for use again. It will probably have even
produced a very fine healthy 'offspring' as a surprise too. The
resulting sour beverage won't be drinkable but can be used in the
kitchen or bathroom. If it hasn't quite reached becoming vinegar,
you could put it in a warm place to ferment further and turn it into