Monday, November 29, 2010

The Mighty 'Booch' Part II

As promised, here's part two of my kombucha adventure. I wanted to do something like a step-by-step guide for other people interested in homemade kombucha, but that didn't seem right since I am still experimenting with it myself.  Instead I thought it'd be nice to make a diary-style entry on kombucha, showing you how the tea & scoby developed during fermentation, as this was something I was very curious (and nervous!) about myself. I hope this is helpful to some of you, but do let me know if you have any questions and I will try to help!

First Batch of Kombucha
Part of the Equipment

A glass jar with a volume of 2,5 litres (84 fl oz) and six swing top bottles. Once bottled, the kombucha will continue to ferment, thus creating more carbonation which will put a lot of pressure on the bottle. It is best to use swing-top bottles as the caps are designed to release pressure without the loss of carbonation. I've read some horror stories about exploding bottles and mason jars, so you definitely want to go the safe route here. (Though I guess there's no guarantee with this sort of thing, so do your research if you decide to bottle your kombucha - this is just the way I make mine and I am not responsible for any accidents...)

First Batch of Kombucha
Day 0 - Tuesday evening

Here's the jar, sitting on a table in our storage/radiator room, the temperature in there varies from 24° C (75° F) to 26° C (78° F), average temperature seems to be 25° C (77° F).

First Batch of Kombucha (at Day 1)
Day 1 - Wednesday evening

The batch after one day. I think both the scoby and the tea are doing alright. I can see that things are happening inside (yeast), but nothing too exciting yet. If you look closely you can see that a new baby scoby is starting to form, the surface of the tea looks slightly matte, though it's a bit hard to see from this angle.

Kombucha at Day 2
Day 2 - Thursday evening

Things are happening! The surface looks a bit milky/cloudy, that's the new baby scoby growing - d'aww. There are small clusters of bubbles under the surface, first signs of carbonation.

Kombucha at Day 3
Day 3 - Friday evening

More bubbles, hooray! The baby is growing nicely.

Kombucha at Day 4
Day 4 - Saturday afternoon

The baby is slowly getting thicker: it is now 5mm thick and seems to be growing evenly.

Kombucha at Day 5
Day 5 - Sunday evening

Growning thicker, still. I had to move the jar today and the tea swapped over the baby. Those brown things, on the middle of the scoby and on the edge, are yeast not mould. The yeast normally likes to hang around under the scoby, sorry about the disturbance buddies! It looks a bit gross, but it's not dangerous and I might be able to wash it off before I start my second batch.

Kombucha at day 6, bottled!
Day 6 - Monday morning -> bottled!

I woke up this morning and walked into our storage room to check on my baby. Right away I noticed the temperature in the room seemed to be warmer than usual. The thermometer confirmed this with a temperature of 28° C (82° F). I lifted the paper towel off the jar and took a sniff, then quickly stepped back - vinegar-y! Panic set in, I wasn't sure what to do - stick to the original plan and wait another day or bottle it now?! I stuck a straw into the jar for a taste test and decided it'd be best to bottle it. In hindsight I am not sure if this was really necessary, I would've preferred a more sour brew, but I'm hoping that the second round of fermentation will take care of this. I got enough tea for 4 and a half bottles and starter liquid for two new batches, so I am rather happy with my first harvest.

1x ginger (dried & candied)
1x mandarin (juice of one fruit)
1x cranberry (dried)
1x black currant (syrup)
1/2 bottle plain kombucha

I'm leaving the bottles out at room temp. for 1-2 days for a second ferment to get some extra fizz, then they'll go in the fridge. The tea for my next batches is already cooling down as I type, one's black tea, the other one's a mix of black and green. Can't wait to see how these will turn out!

So, I guess that's it! I thought it would take a lot longer, but I'm happy about the fast progress. I am going to do more blogposts about the 'booch in the future, once I have a little more experience, so let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to see and I'll do my best to include it in my next post! There might also be a post about water kefir in the near future, I sort of stumbled upon it when I did research on kombucha and it looks really interesting and a bit easier than kombucha. Let me know if there's something you want to know about water kefir, so I know what to write about when I get mine. :)


  1. Mmmm those flavors sound delightful. :)

  2. Very cool! Those flavors do sound delicious.
    I wanted to stop by and say hi to a fellow MoFo'er. I'm going to be sad to se the month come to an end. I'm so glad I discovered you.
    Best wishes.

  3. Wow, that's fascinating. I've never tried Kombucha.

  4. I hope the flavors turn out. I tried homemade kombucha about a month ago. I tried it with chia tea and sucanat think I should have gone simple and started with black tea and white sugar. It didn't get very vinegary and I my scoby got spots on it... needless to say I threw everything out and decided to try it again after I'm not pregnant.

  5. @Kathleen: Oh no, but better safe than sorry! That's what I thought, probably best to start out simple and work from there (with a few baby scobys for back-up). I think the essential oils on flavoured teas can mess with the bacteria, perhaps that is were your mould came from. You'll have better luck next time, I'm sure. :)