Kombucha -- Baby's First SCOBY

Anybody here making their own kombucha? :raised_hand:

I have never liked kombucha. I’ve tried all the samples at farmers markets. I’ve tried different flavors when That One Friend brings them to a party, trying to convince everybody it’s good. But it’s just not my kind of… I don’t know, flavor profile? I prefer my fermented beverages to be in the grape family. :wink:

Then I saw a SCOBY for the first time. :nauseated_face:

But I’ve also heard about all the health benefits, which is why I keep trying all those samples. :woman_shrugging:

Well, every year, when my aunt comes up for Christmas, she brings me something. Her latest knitting project, so I can hopefully help her troubleshoot this issue she’s having… an old vintage sewing machine that probably, definitely doesn’t work… and this year, some fabric pieces and a SCOBY (actually, two).

Well, great. There went any excuse I had to not try making my own. I started it that night (one week ago), and tonight, I’m drinking kombucha, and not hating it. Dare I say, maybe even enjoying it?

I think the key for me is that I get to taste it as I’m going, so I get a level of acidity I’m comfortable with.

I only had black tea in the house, but my aunt said she’s had the best success with green tea, so I’ll be trying that eventually.


(1.5 is the day I took the SCOBY out to finish fermenting on its own.)

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I don’t currently have a batch of kombucha going, but I have made it frequently in the past. Interesting that your aunt uses green tea. Back when I first started (10ish years ago) everything I was reading said black tea black tea black tea. So that’s all I’ve ever done. I think you made the right discovery – that when you brew it yourself, you can stop it at your desired taste. Personally, I think it tastes similar to a fermented apple cider. Did she teach you how to keep it going? If your SCOBY ever dies, here’s an easy way to start over: Get a bottle or two of unpasteurized kombucha from the store (I prefer GT Dave’s). Brew up a small amount of tea and add the appropriate amount of sugar (I can get you exact ratios later; currently too lazy to go to the kitchen and find my info sheet) and pour the bottled kombucha into it. It’s a little slow, but after a couple of weeks a new scoby will begin to form. Keep brewing and adding small amounts of tea until the scoby can keep up with it.

Also, I see that you are in Tacoma. I used to live up there off Pacific and 72nd (can we say “drive-bys”?). Currently in Oly with the rest of the kombucha-brewing hippies. :wink:

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Oh, hey, Washington!

Interesting. I wonder if maybe she just gravitates toward green tea and so prefers it here. I have a feeling black tea will be my go-to, but then I generally prefer black to green. I’ll be sure to report back when/if I do try green.

She didn’t tell me a whole lot about keeping it going or starting over, but I’ve done a little reading on my own. I’m glad to know it’s pretty low maintenance. That’s totally my jam.

Yeah, that’s what it is. I knew it tasted like something familiar.

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Yes, I have fermented so many things. It is really fun and addictive. @AcadianDriftwood is also experienced with fun kitchen experiments :wink:
There is a Scoby that prefers green tea, it’s called a Jun Scoby. They aren’t usually interchangable in what they will work best with but like all living creatures, acclimate to their environment and so can be uniquely adapted to different criteria.

They can be low-maintenance, but also fussy. Keep reading the bootch blogs, there’s plenty of great advice out there.
Here are my main tips: add any flavouring elements in the 2nd fermenting stage, that’s after you’ve drained the brew off from the scoby. As in, do not put fruit, juice, herbs etc in with the mother! Keep her environment clear.
The best cover for the jar is tshirt fabric stretched over the top and secured with rubber bands. They need air but attract fruit flies and once those get in the jar you have to throw everything away, including the mother. It can’t be salvaged. Neither can mold be remedied, that is Scoby death. It you think there’s mold but aren’t sure, it’s probably not in fact mold. Scoby react to temperature and get some I interesting textures. Mold is very obvious, you will know it’s mold for sure without question.
2nd ferment under pressure MUST be done in the correct vessel. Flip top beer bottles are the best for this, they are designed for use with a carbonated liquid and can withstand the internal pressure. Don’t be tempted to use a cute Ikea bottle, explosions happen and flying shards of glass are dangerous! I always put second fermenting bottles into a cardboard box and I am so glad I did because the one time there was a blow out things got wet but the glass stayed contained.

Have fun! Fermenting is really exciting to experiment with :blush:

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I’ve never been a fan of kombucha. Like you I like fermented grape beverages!

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This is so intriguing! I still have yet to actually try kombucha (not for a lack of desire, just I don’t want to buy a whole bottle to find out I hate it). But I have a revulsion/fascination with the SCOBY growing process and it’s fun to follow along. I hope you do well with it!

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Interesting. That’s good to know. I’ll read up on it.

That’s probably the best advice I’ve heard.

I bake sourdough bread, so I know all about needing to keep the starter/mother pure.

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You’re already ahead of the game! Once you become a kitchen scientist there’s really no going back, eh? I hope you’ll show off your bread! Sourdough is a nifty beast :wink:

One other thing I feel compelled to mention is that the purported health benefits are not backed up by any actual studies. Bootch is made of caffeine and sugar, the sweet might get converted by the scoby into a yeasty ferment but the Caffeine does not change at all. Some people say to rinse out the tea bags to “decaffeinate” them but for this there certainly are studies saying that is not how the process works. I don’t see kombucha a health drink, nor do I think it’s appropriate for children. It’s fun to make and have, like pop or beer, but it’s not medicine. If you don’t enjoy drinking it, there are plenty of other things out there with all the supposed health bennies and none of the cons.

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Right. Good note. I should have said, “I’ve read how beneficial it can be for your gut.”

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Thanks for the tag @Magpie :heart_decoration:

Welcome to kombucha brewing! I love being able to customize the tartness and flavors, I think you will enjoy it.

When I first started out, I read that I had to wean my scoby onto green tea and honey very slowly, but I’m a bit more relaxed with it now. I’ve been brewing with a batch of 2/3 green tea and 1/3 black tea (with 1/2 honey and 1/2 sugar) and recently split that into a second batch which I’m going to brew with only black tea (+sugar) since I bought a lot of it loose in bulk. The jun does have a different taste, and tends to mature more quickly.

I also second Magpie’s tip of using only tea for primary fermentation! Even flavored teas (I ruined a batch by using too much chai spice) have oils and things in them that can muck up the environs.

I currently have 3 bottles in the fridge finishing up the 2nd ferment (experimenting with 2-3 days at room temp and then moving to the fridge, trying to get more fizziness) - flavors are pineapple, pomegranate/ginger, and grapefruit. :star_struck:

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Has anybody used water kefir granules? I made those for about a year, very tasty and zero caffeine as they ferment with only sugar water. I had a blow out with a berry puree second ferment, the kids still talk about the day mummy painted the kitchen purple :dizzy_face:

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I’ve read that a few times, so I will be sure to heed that advice. Your flavors sound so good!

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Oh yes! I love kombucha and make my own. I do a blend of black and green teas. On my second ferment, my favorite additions are lavender and elderberries.

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This sounds like an intrigueing home creation.

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I recently tried kombucha and am hooked! Definitely need to learn how to brew at home because it can be expensive

Wow. I had no idea. Taking notes from this thread.

I had some that was bottled and it had a nice flavor! Definitely not something I’d grow at home, but I’d drink it again! :slight_smile: