Frequently asked questions about the making of and use of the Kombucha health drink.
Q/ Do you sell Milk Kefir too?
A/ Yes, for information and to buy Milk Kefir grains, please visit www.milk-kefir.co.nz
Q/ What kind of Tea is best for Kombucha?
A/ Visit http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-ingredients
Q/ What kind of sugar(s) can I use for Kombucha?
A/ Again visit http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-ingredients
Q/ My kombucha culture sank to the bottom of my container and is floating sideways. Is this normal or should it float on the top?
A/ Depending on a number of factors, the culture may sink, float, or sit sideways. Any of these is normal and will not effect the brewing process.
Q/ Do I have to make up my Kombucha brew straight away after receiving it?
A/ No, you don't have to start brewing your culture straight away as such. A few extra days in the bag won't hurt it as long as you open the bag to allow some air into the culture for it to breath. As living organisms they need oxygen to breath too.
If you plan or need to leave it a week or more before you can brew it up, I still suggest you tip all the contents of the bag into a jar and leave it undisturbed where it will probably grow a new baby scoby on the top while it waits for proper brewing. Then when you are ready to brew it up, just add the sweetened tea you make up to the existing scoby(s) and liquid in the jar. DO NOT PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE as this will weaken may of the bacterial strains and cause it to take longer to recover.
Q/ I'm going away on holiday so how do I store or rest my Kombucha while I'm away?
A/ Any time you want to take a break from brewing kombucha or go away on holiday for a week or 2 or even 4, then the best way to store your Kombucha scoby for later re-use is to make it up as a brew in the usual way and then leave it covered in the same place you would as usual as well.
DO NOT PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE!
Leaving it (brewing) a lot longer than usual will do it no harm and will in fact simply give you a really nice thick scoby on your return. Putting it in the fridge as often suggested on the internet can, in my opinion, seriously upset the balance of the bacteria/yeast ratio as some suffer more than others from the very low temperatures. This will mean it can take several brews when restarting to get the bacteria/yeast ratios back in balance and obtain a good tasting Kombucha again. However, just leaving it in the kitchen cupboard at room temperature (or wherever you normally do) to grow really thick scoby maintains a much better bacteria/yeast ratio and you simply use a sharp knife to slice/fillet off the top 1cm of the scoby to brew it up again using some of the very vinegary juice as starter.
That all said, 2-3 months is probably the longest you can do that as it will eventually use up all the tea and go dry.
So if needing to put it on hold for more than a few weeks, then the next best thing to do is to put it in the freezer with some starter tea in a zip lock bag. To restart, just thaw to room temp then brew up as usual. It may take a brew or two to revive properly. 6 months is probably the maximum safe time limit for this approach.
Q/ I think I have mould - what should I do?
A/ Click here for pics and info on Mould
Q/ What should I do if I do have mould growing on my Scoby?
A/ In the unlikely event you get (dark furry patches) of mould growing on the scoby, throw the whole scoby away and do not use the tea to start a new brew as re-using it will just infect the next batch. Visit www.organic-kombucha.com/kombucha_mold for pics and advice on mold issues.
Also see this page first just to check whether you do actually have mould.
Q/ Can my brew be rescued (for drinking) if I've left it too long and it tastes too much like vinegar?
A/ Kind of. The vinegar taste cannot be removed, only disguised or weakened by adding it to a glass of fruit juice to give a tangy fruit drink. Being over brewed till it tastes like vinegar is not actually a bad thing from a health point of view. Surprisingly, a really sour brew is actually preferred by those who want as little sugar as possible in their drink and a higher % of beneficial bacteria and acids. Technically, the more sour or vinegary it is, the better it is for your health.
Also, simply adding more sugar just gives you sweet vinegar. Once the ascetic acid (vinegar) level is that high, you cannot reduce it. You can happily still reuse the scoby of course, but the liquid/drink is only good for vinegary products if it has gone that far - use it as vinegar in cooking (obviously), a scalp rinse, skin toner and many other uses.
Q/ Should I keep my Kombucha in the dark or in the light?
A/ My personal experience is that dark or light environments make no observable difference in the fermentation process, as long as it doesn't get direct sunlight through a window as this can cause extremely high temperatures in the jar which can kill the scoby.
The jars I grow my 'For sale' scobys in sit on an open shelf in our brewing room which is a typically light room (since we have to work in it). The jars we brew our own personal drinking kombucha sit in the dark back corner of our quite dark pantry.
My father-in-law keeps his in the 100% dark hot water cupboard while my sister's sits on her kitchen bench.
All these locations give good scoby growth and nicely fermented Kombucha.
Q/ Is Green tea better than Black tea?
A/ Probably not. The purpose of fermenting products is to use bacteria to break down the foods into more accessible nutrients and as black tea is pre-fermented while green tea is not, it is considered that the nutrients in black tea become more available than those in green.
Q/ Why has my scoby changed colour?
A/ The pigments in the tea you use remain in the Scoby so the colour is determined by the tea used. If you use fruit infusions (as I do) to further flavour your tea, the scoby will take on the colour of the fruits - example using a strawberry tea will give you a pink Scoby.
Q/ Can I cut up my new scoby to fit it into a smaller jar or to give some away?
A/ Yes, any (oversized) scoby can quite happily be cut up into smaller pieces to make it fit into a smaller jar, be given away or so that it is all submerged. Use a sharp knife or pair of sissors to cut a scoby.
Q/ What do I do to give a surplus scoby to someone else?
A/ Simply place the spare Scoby in a glass jar or well sealed snap lock bag along with sufficient 'Starter tea' from the previous batch and give to friend.
Q/ Can I get drunk from drinking Kombucha?
A/ No. The alcohol levels in Kombucha seldom exceed 0.5-1%, if even that much so it is not generally considered an alcoholic beverage.
Q/Can I store excess Scobies or save to use later?
A/ Yes, they can be stored short term in the fridge or longer term in the freezer. Store them in a jar or bag with sufficient 'Starter tea' (for when you need to re-start a brew) and place in fridge for a few weeks or the freezer for months. When re-starting a brew with a scoby from the freezer, it may take several brews for the brew to regain it's original strength and vigor, but it will eventually.
Q/ Do I need to keep my bottled kombucha drink in the fridge?
A/ You don't have to, but keep it in the fridge if you want a nice cold one on hand when you need one but also if you want to hold the flavour for as long as possible as it will continue to slowly ferment after bottling and eventually go sour/vinegary after several weeks/months at room temperature (if kept that long).
I personally bottle it then leave for up to a week at room temperature to build up some fizz then put in the fridge ready for drinking.
Q/ How many batches of Kombucha will I get from a scoby?
A/ As a scoby grows a new 'baby' scoby each batch, you should never need to buy/aquire another scoby, but an actual individual scoby (if re-used from brew to brew), will help brew several batches before becoming brown and sludgey (and need throwing away).
Q/ Can I still drink Kombucha if I am pregnant?
A/ As Kombucha isn't considered a scientifically and medically proven (safe) product by the mainstream medical industry, most conventional doctors will advise against the consumption of such products because of the 'potential' for bacterial contamination.
However, those in the natural health industry would say that it is full of beneficial components and that there are few if any valid cases against consumption of properly brewed Kombucha (and other fermented drinks). Kombucha Tea is considered as 'Low risk' as fruit juice by NZ's Ministry of Health because it contains no animal products or animal by-products.
All I can say is that if I were pregnant, I would be certainly continue to drink my naturally fermented, pro-biotic beverages despite my GP's inevitable recommendations against it ("just to be safe" as the American FDA hasn't approved it - like they know anything about health foods?).
Q/ I am going away on holiday - how should I store my scoby(s) while I'm gone and how do I re-start when I return?
A/Just before you leave for your time away, brew up your Kombucha same as you would normally for a new batch and then place in the same place as always too. Then just leave it, that's right, just brew it up and walk away (or fly :o)). You can leave a brew brewing for a couple of months easy with no ill effect. On your return you will notice three things: 1/ a really thick scoby, 2/ a lot less tea in the jar and 3/ the remaining tea will be really, really vinegary so don't plan on drinking it.
To start your kombucha up again, take the nice thick scoby and slice the top 1 cm off with a sharp(filleting) knife and just use this as your new scoby to re-brew up a batch as normal, using some of the really sour tea as starter.If you've been gone a really long time, it may take a brew or two for the normal balance of bacteria and yeasts to get re-established and produce the usual Kombucha you've been used to.
For even more answers to questions about Kombucha, try this website too, keeping in mind it is an American site:
Or, ask your question below...