There are a few things about kombucha that may keep people from achieving total brewing mastery, which is why we've compiled a list of the top kombucha brewing questions we receive.
- Is this mold?
The most frequently asked question we get from home brewers revolves around the question of mold. The good news is that it’s easy to prevent, easy to spot, and relatively rare.
A few rules of thumb apply with mold:
- Mold will always be dry and fuzzy (never dry and bubbly)
- Mold will never form below the surface of the liquid in your brew jar
- Low temperatures and weak nutrient can invite mold proliferation
Check out this blog post that covers all of the aspects of mold speculation!
- How can I store SCOBY? How long can I keep it there?
You can store a SCOBY almost indefinitely in the refrigerator. You will want to make sure the culture is completely submerged in kombucha and covered. Ideally, you should store it in glass, but any vessel that seals and keeps out refrigerator odors will work well.
The longer you store a SCOBY, the longer it will take to ferment the first brew. You can also store your SCOBY in a jar outside of the fridge, but over time it will grow into a monster SCOBY. You must be sure there is still liquid in the jar as long as you are storing it at room temperature, since if the culture dries out, it will be hard to resuscitate and may grow moldy.
It is possible to resuscitate a frozen SCOBY. Simply allow it to thaw, and brew with it as you would normally. Be sure to speak softly to it, playing lilting ukulele music.
- My kombucha isn’t fizzy. What am I doing wrong?
While carbonation isn't a necessary component of kombucha, it is a highly polarizing yet satisfying aspect. However, one should not be troubled if unable to effectively carbonate kombucha.
There are a few things to take note of when you want to carbonate your kombucha:
- Kombucha will not be inherently effervescent (bubbly) right out of primary fermentation
- The simplest carbonation method for a homebrewer is to bottle your kombucha and allow it to continue fermenting, with the lid on, at room temperature
- The sugar content of the kombucha you are bottling will play a huge role in your resulting effervescence. Sugar is contributed in either primary fermentation (and will be residual when you bottle) or it is added as a flavoring when you bottle. This is usually juiced or dried fruit, but can also be more sugar, a couple of raisins, honey, maple syrup, etc.
- The temperature of the environment in which you are doing secondary fermentation plays a large role as well. Just like during primary fermentation, higher temperatures will result in quicker fermentation and lower temperatures will result in slower fermentation
Check out this blog post to read up on carbonating your kombucha.
- My kombucha is too sweet. What am I doing wrong?
That’s a good problem to have, as it means that your brew hasn't fermented too far yet. You will just need to wait a little bit longer for your brew to reach a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. It’s better to find that it’s sweet, because at the other end of the spectrum you could be finding your ‘buch to be too vinegary.
After day 5 of primary fermentation, taste your brew daily. Use a spoon, straw, sample thief, etc. This will help to acclimate you to the changes your brew is experiencing, giving you a good foresight on when it will be completed and ready to drink or bottle!
- My kombucha is too vinegary. What am I doing wrong?
You simply need end primary fermentation sooner. All kombucha, left at room temperature, will eventually become vinegar. Start tasting it daily after 5 days, and when you find it to have a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, it’s ready to drink!
But if you go too far, don't fret! Simply blend in some unfermented tea and/or sugar before you bottle. This will balance out your brew and make nice bubbles in secondary!
- Can I use any tea to make kombucha?
Following a few guidelines, it is very easy to use pretty much any of your favorite herbal or standard teas for making kombucha:
- A majority of your plant matter should be actual tea (Camellia sinensis)
- If you want to use herbs, use no more than 25% the total mass of plant matter for your steep. For example - 12 grams black tea, 3 grams lavender
- Herbal tea is not an adequate substitute for actual tea!
For more information on using tea and herbs for your brews, check out this blog post.
- Can I use sweeteners other than sugar?
Yes, you can! There are a few caveats, however.
- Plain sugar is the best sweetener for your standard kombucha brew
- You can try using other sweeteners, but train your culture into becoming comfortable with them
- Use a Jun culture if you want to brew with honey
- Maple syrup makes excellent kombucha, and both standard and Jun cultures do well with it
- For liquid sweeteners, use 3/4 cup per 1-gallon brew
- Maple crystals do not do so well alone in kombucha, the same goes for brown sugar
Read up on Jun kombucha here
8. How much alcohol is in kombucha?
As a home brewer, you will generally see higher alcohol content in your 'buch than you will find in store-bought kombucha. This is due to a legal requirement that non-alcoholic beverages must contain less than .5% alcohol by volume, and they are carefully processed and handled to keep the alcohol content low.
So, in your home-brewed kombucha, you will generally see alcohol content anywhere from .5% to 2.5%. At the high end of that scale, the booziness will be evident but still very subtle and easily broken down by your body.
For more information about alcohol in kombucha, read this blog post.
For information about brewing high alcohol kombucha, check out this one.
Have we missed anything? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below, or send us an email at email@example.com