There is a bit of a learning curve with the first few batches of brewing kombucha. I've put together an FAQ that might help you with some of the more common questions.
I'm still developing this post and will update the Precautions and Troubleshooting sections. If in the meantime you have a question, please contact me either through the contact form, or hop on over to Instagram and message me there. I'll be happy to help you if I can.
~ FAQ ~
Do I really have to use plain tea?
- Yes, you do. It can be green, or black, or white but it can't have any oils or flavors because that will disrupt the balance of yeast and bacteria in your first ferment, and it could encourage mold.
My ferment is kind of cloudy.
- That's probably normal and likely a bloom of yeast that can happen if temperatures are a bit warm. Check your brewing location to make sure it's not in the sunlight or in an area that's too warm (above 85F)
Can I put my SCOBY with starter liquid in the refrigerator if I want to take a break from brewing?
- Technically, probably yes. But it would be better to leave it at room temperature and make a SCOBY hotel, feeding it once a month or so with very strong sweet tea. It will survive just fine.
Is this mold?
- Probably not unless it's fuzzy or scattered small spots. There's a great resource Kombucha Kamp that has a great gallery of Mold and Not Mold photos. I'd suggest checking there.
My SCOBY looks leathery.
- That's normal under most circumstances. It's likely the result of a brew that's a bit too warm.
Can I brew the first ferment without a SCOBY?
- Definitely yes - but you'll need 2 cups (per gallon) of strong starter liquid. Many people brew batch after batch without saving the cellulose mat that forms at the top.
How do I know when my first ferment is ready?
- See my recipe under the Kombucha Section for signs to watch for.
Can I cut back on the sugar?
- You can try it. I did, but my fermentation got sluggish. The SCOBY needs the sugar to power the ferment and make a healthy brew. I use at least 1 cup of sugar per gallon (usually 1.5 cups). This gives it a great boost. Remember, the SCOBY metabolizes the sugar, so the carbohydrate content drops significantly in the end. Store-bought kombucha is usually around 5g per serving. Not bad and not many calories, either.
Do I have to brew in bottles, can I use a jar?
- You have to use fermentable and food-grade bottles or there could be an explosion. You can definitely use & repurpose store-bought kombucha bottles. Check the caps daily though, a strong ferment will loosen the lids.
Do I have to brew in a closet?
- No - not at all. Who wants to give up closet space? It's fine to brew in a corner somewhere. Pick a place where your kombucha will be undisturbed and out of direct sunlight. Wrap a bath towel or pillowcase around the jug so light won't get in. It will ferment better in a dark environment.
How much did it cost to get up and running with supplies?
- $50.00 with supplies from Amazon for 6 bottles, the jugs, a funnel. I bought plain green tea and I had sugar in the pantry. My niece sent me a SCOBY with starter liquid.