How to make Kombucha is no secret. If you do a quick google search, you'll come across many recipes. You should see many similarities between them, with some variations. Everyone makes 'booch a little different. That is the beauty of Kombucha!
I receive a lot of questions on Instagram about brewing. I thought I'd share some of the most common questions here. My answers are based on how I brew 'booch. Others may answer the questions differently and that's quite alright!
- What kind of tea do you use? When I started brewing, I started with organic green tea. I then tried organic black tea. And then I bought organic Oolong tea. Today, my brews consist mostly of 50% green tea and 50% black tea and I have one Oolong batch (which has the prettiest SCOBYs!). I prefer the 50/50 blend because I found black tea to be a little too strong and green tea to be a little too light.
- How long do you ferment your 'booch? When I started, I did the first ferment (sweet tea and SCOBY) for one week and the second ferment (bottled with fruit) for about 3 days. As I added more batches, I was able to extend my fermentation cycles. I currently go 2 weeks for first ferment and about 4-5 days for second ferment.
- What kind of bottles do you use? When I started, I collected and reused store bought Kombucha bottles. Some brands resealed better than others. I then found a local beer brewer supply store and ventured into swing top bottles. I like swing tops but I find them hard to wash and sanitize sometimes. I then moved to 1/2 gallon and gallon growlers with poly seal lids. I love the growlers. They seal well for carbonation. They are easy to clean (I use a baby bottle brush to get to hard to reach places) and I find it easier to make larger batches of flavors vs many individual 16 oz bottles.
- Do you remove the fruit after second fermentation? Usually, I do not remove the fruit. I think the 'booch flavors continue to marinate in the fridge so I prefer to leave the fruit in. We then filter (a fork works fine!) as we drink the 'booch. Although our 8 year old daughter prefers to eat the fruit after she drinks her 'booch!
- Do you use fresh or frozen fruit? I use both, depending on what's fresh and organic at our local grocery store.
- Do you defrost the frozen fruit? I only defrost the fruit enough so that I can easily cut it (if necessary). Otherwise, it's still somewhat frozen when it goes in the 'booch. I've been asked if it waters down the 'booch. I honestly have not noticed a difference.
- Do you use juice? I have only used juice when I've done grape flavoring. Otherwise I use fresh or frozen fruit. I know many others who use juice. I'd just caution about added sugar and other unnecessary ingredients (of course there's many brands that don't add sugar and other stuff).
- How do you get carbonation in your 'booch? When you flavor your 'booch for second fermentation, you have an opportunity to create carbonation as the bottle is sealed and the sugars from your flavorings are converted into CO2. Some of my batches come out super carbonated, others do not. I think it comes down to your flavorings. Some brewers add sugar, raisins, etc. to create carbonation. I do not. I let science do its thing. If it comes out carbonated, great! If it doesn't, that's ok too.
- How do you prevent your bottles from exploding? To date, I have not had a bottle explode during second fermentation (knock on wood). In hopes of avoiding an explosion, I carefully burp my bottles at least once a day. By burping, I mean I slowly loosen the lids to relieve built up pressure. I also keep our house at about 80 degrees or below (we live in Phoenix and we have animals in the house all day long). If your home is warmer, it will speed up fermentation.
- Is that mold on my SCOBY? I've honestly not personally experienced mold on my SCOBYs so I don't feel like an adequate judge. If you think you might have mold, do a quick google search. Many have posted pictures of mold on SCOBYs. To prevent mold, securely cover your 'booch during the first ferment. I use cloth napkins, secured with rubber bands. Do not use cheese cloth or other loose covers. It's an invite for mold and fruit flies!
I hope you found these FAQs helpful. Happy brewing!