In my September post about anaerobic kombucha, I mentioned a study that involved brewing kombucha using a starter culture without a scoby. If you search online for “scoby growing”, you’ll find a lot of instructions on how to grow a scoby from an existing batch of kombucha. As far as I can tell, the only time when a scoby is useful, is when you don’t have a liquid starter culture of existing kombucha, and the scoby itself is acting as the culture.
To test this, I’ve decided to start a series of brews using only starter culture from this series. I’ve already bottled the first batch, which produced a large 1-inch thick scoby after 17 days, but I set it aside and started the second batch using only 1 cup of that kombucha, tea, water, and sugar. This batch seemed normal enough, but I’ll run this through several cycles to see if the strength of the culture seems to decrease over time. If there’s any problem, it should eventually peter out and stop producing. It’s all rather subjective, but I’ll note scoby thickness as well as brew time and flavor, and we’ll see how things progress.
I flavored one quart with Blissful Blueberry, and one with Sunny Pineapple Lychee, which are part of Republic of Tea’s “Hibiscus” series. After having flavored a quart of Kombucha with straight hibiscus, I was a little hesitant. I was also hesitant because they contain Stevia, which I often find to have an undesirable aftertaste. I was pleased to find that each made some of the best (sweet/fruity) flavored kombucha to date. I’ll certainly try these again, and I’ll probably try the others in the series: Natural Hibiscus, Key Lime, Vanilla Apple, and Coconut.