How to Brew Kombucha : A day by day Analysis

Day 1:How to Brew Kombucha

To the right is my fresh brew! The tea and sugar has steeped and dissolved, and we have added the culture (floating in the background). We will be following it over the next couple days to see how a typical kombucha brew progresses.

 

As your brew ferments, you will notice changes in the nute (nutritional starter). Most notably will be the formation of the new "baby SCOBY on the surface. This process begins in most brews between twenty-four and seventy-two hours.

 

Small white patches will begin to form on the surface of the liquid, independent of the SCOBY you put in there. The first few days are an uneasy time for new brewers, and the new growth of SCOBY is often misconstrued as mold. For more info about mold, check here at our Brew FAQ.

 

Day 2:

We are still at the dawn of our ferment and must be patient. My starter SCOBY has floated back up which is totally OK ( so is a sunken SCOBY). It is very important during these early stages not to disturb or otherwise agitate the kombucha; one small wave can sink new formations, which slows the primary acidification process and increases the risk of mold.

 

At this point you may have some questions or just want to know more on how to brew kombucha. What better way to learn-and-brew than dive into a good read? See our selection of brewing books here.

 

I highly suggest for beginners our company's co-founder written book Kombucha! It's where a good chunk of this blog's body comes from. And for people who would like to expand their know-how on all other things fermented, I suggest The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz; a Michael Pollan / Harold McGee scientific break-down on all that bubbles. True Brews by Emma Christensen, on the other hand, is a beautifully laid out guide on how to make and tastily enhance all that bubbles: cider, soda pop, beer, wine, sake, soda, mead, kefir, kombucha, and fruit wines.

 

 

Days 3-4:

SCOBY formation: As the culture matures, these spots of new growth will become thicker and wider, eventually joining together and becoming one whole party. Wheee! SCOBY Party! Give your brew a sniff - it is important to know the smells as well as the sights of your brew as it transforms.

 

 

Day 5:

Kombucha yeast Only Yeast! Nothing to worry about.

See KBBK SCOBY-power in action! that's a lot of growth in just five days. Your brew may not be here just yet, so you may need to give it an extra day or two. So, it has formed it's signature celluloid patty, the SCOBY. If you do not see anything resembling the SCOBY in these pictures, you may be in trouble - ambient temperature could be too low and is slowing the culture's metabolism, or other brewing issues may have arisen. If you see dark patches or strange tentacle looking formations such as in the inset picture above, no need for alarm. This is just spent yeast, a natural bi-product of the fermentation process.  See our Brew FAQ for more info. Again, keep your brew covered! From the pictures it may seem that this is an open-air ferment, but it is just for visual reference.

 

 

 

Day 6:

Taste your Brew: When the new baby SCOBY has spread across the entire surface of your brew and started to thicken, you should give your 'buch a taste. This will usually be in the three- to six-day range but can take longer depending on the strength of your culture, how long you have been brewing in that location, the type of tea and sugar used, and the temperature. Lots of changes have already occurred in your brew at this point and the flavor will give you an idea of how much longer you will want to brew your ferment. Just make sure that if you dip something into your 'buch, it is clean.

As long as your brew is healthy and progressing normally, it's always safe to drink from the nute stage all the way through to vinegar.

Some ideas on how to get a sip:

  • Stick a straw under the surface of the SCOBY
  • Use a clean shot glass to gently push the SCOBY down and scoop a little from the surface
  • Use a Thief! These are the professional brewers sampler. (Available here)

A pH indicator measures the activity of hydrogen ions in a solution. The more free-floating hydrogen ions there are, the lower pH will be, indicating a higher acid profile. For the kombrewer with pH indicator strips, your buch will be ready on the sweet side at a pH of 3.1 and on the sour side at a pH of 2.7.

 

 

Days 7-9:

Behold, the magic of fermentation! You have just learned how to make kombucha. Millions of microorganisms in the SCOBY are happily feeding off of sugars and tea nutrients, breaking down alcohols, and multiplying. This pro-biotic adventure has come full circle.

Unfortunately due to an accident, the jar broke before I could take a side shot. The second photo above is from a different brew, but is a similar and healthy SCOBY.

When to bottle: Your brew, although young, is complete. Most one-gallon brews kept around 78ºF will have a nice balance of sweet and sour flavors at nine days. I like to bottle at about seven days in my kitchen when there is a little more sweetness than I would want to drink. This ensures that there will be enough sugar to produce effervescence in secondary fermentation after bottling. If you haven't yet picked up bottling equipment, I highly suggest our Pro-Bottler Package, it's six 32oz Amber Growlers, a brewers must-have Auto-siphon, and a mixed flavor pack with enough goodies to flavor all six of those Growlers.

DSC_5824

Whether you bottle your 'buch for some extra bubble or just pour out a cup straight-up, it's time to enjoy the pro-biotic and fizzy goodness that is home-brew kombucha. Feel it's not complete without a snazzy Kombucha Brooklyn Highball glass? Go ahead and deck out your glassware collection.

Happy Brewing!

Will

18 thoughts on “How to Brew Kombucha : A day by day Analysis”

  • diane bolt

    mine is looking but how can I get that same color as yours ? is it diff color teas?> I use green tea,orange pekoe . organic black, would like to have balance of color>> mine tastes good just looking for lighter color
    thank you for your help

  • ILLBACKYOUUP

    Also wondering what kind of tea you used.

  • Linda A. Weisser
    Linda A. Weisser May 13, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Is there a way this can be posted on Facebook? As I would like to :Share" this with all my friends & families on FB. For I so believe in Kombucha!
    Sincerely,
    Linda A. W.

  • William Donnelly

    Hi there! The tea I used was our Tieguanyin High Grade Oolong Tea. The flavor is as amazing as the color.

    And Linda, yes definitely! There should be a set of link buttons between the post and the comments, otherwise you can always copy and paste the URL to your FB post, let it load then delete the text - I find it looks nicer that way.

    Let me know if you all have any other questions!

  • Michelle

    Hi, my Kombucha is taking much longer to ferment is that ok? I am on day 9 and am sitting around your day 5 mark! I live in Perth, Australia so I am just coming into winter. I am a first time brewer so am little nervous I will get it wrong.
    I love your book also and can't wait to try all the awesome recipes :)

  • William Donnelly

    Hi Michelle,
    Totally fine - Sometimes the culture takes a bit longer to get up to speed, especially if cold is a factor. You really want to try and keep that brew in the 70ºF-78ºF or 21ºC - 25ºC range. Any lower, and the brew ferments so slow that it gives plenty of time for mold and other risks to take hold. You can keep it on top of your fridge, in the oven with just the light on, or wrap it up in a scarf while it ferments - or grab a heat mat here:

    http://www.kombuchabrooklyn.com/heat-mat-for-1-gallon-brew.html

    Happy to hear you are getting a kick out of the book! Let us know how it goes - If you are at the "day 5 mark" do not worry, you are well on your way to a more matured, and complex kombucha :)

    Will

  • Jessie Newburn

    When I started brewing 'buch, I'd get some lovely fizz in my second fermentation. I'm about six months into brewing and the fizz has been all but gone these last couple/few months. Any tips?

  • William Donnelly

    Secondary relies on sugar and a warm environment as much as primary fermentation. Think about the sugar content of your flavorings - If your flavoring is quite low in sugar maybe add a bit of simple syrup to feed the yeast properly. If the sugar content is ok, double check the bottles seal is still airtight (submerge empty underwater) and that the temperature you are fermenting at is around mid seventies. Otherwise, write down how long you are letting it sit (I suggest 3 days) out at temperature, and see how it fizzes, you may need to let it sit a little longer out.

    Be careful! this is now a pressurized container and may explode. A great low-cost way to keep an eye on things is to pour some of the kombucha you are bottling into a water bottle and keep them side by side - as the pressure builds, the water bottle will harden and give you an idea of whats going on inside the glass.

  • C.J,

    I just got a start of Kombucha while waiting to start my first batch do i keep it refrigerated?

  • William Donnelly

    Hi C.J., If you are not brewing right away with your kombucha culture, it is best to keep it in the fridge.

  • Felicia

    Help! My brew is surrounded by fruit flies! Do I ditch the whole batch, including the new baby SCOBY?

  • William Donnelly

    Hi Felicia,
    Yes unfortnuately you'll need to chuck your batch and start again.
    Fruit flies are pesky little things! Make sure your brew is covered with a cloth no thinner than a cotton T-shirt knit, and is properly rubber banded to the rim so that no flies can sneak in!

  • Lena

    Hello, I am a newbie in home brewing and am just beginning to start my culture! I have a question about secondary fermentation --
    I like my kombucha pretty diluted, is it possible to dilute it before secondary fermentation? Thanks so much!

  • William Donnelly

    Hi Lena,
    My best suggestion would be to dilute after secondary fermentation - this way your culture's health (which depends on a certain acid / nutrient / sugar / water ratio) will be unaffected.

    Cheers!
    Will

  • Tom

    Secondary fermentation. This has been mentioned at several points but I have not stumbled upon the formulation for a secondary fermentation. I've made hard cider and fruit ciders ranging into 6%. Can you point me to the location where you discuss the secondary fermentation as I note you have air locks available to perform this task.

    Thank you
    Tom

  • William Donnelly

    Hi there Tom,
    Here is our recent blog on carbonation and secondary fermentation! Thanks for writing in.

    http://www.kombuchabrooklyn.com/blog/carbonating-your-kombucha/?preview=true&preview_id=772&preview_nonce=b3ac3a3234&post_format=standard

    Will

  • Sandra

    I also had a question about fruit flies I bought the kombusha Brooklyn starter kit I've seen fruit flies on it mostly everyday but I have it covered with the cloth it comes with is there any way my bush is safe to drink its suppose to be ready today :( ??

  • Chris

    Hi Sandra, fruit flies outside your brew jar are normal. Your 'buch will be ready when it tastes good to you, or generally when there's a balance of sweetness and acidity. Happy brewing!

Comments