Since the last batch seemed like it might have had too little yeast activity and too much bacterial activity, I decided to try adjusting things. When I added chestnut tannins to cider, it seems like it pushed the fermentation towards yeast, but I decided to try a different tactic this time.
I have an ongoing experiment (to described in a later post) in which fermentation stalled, and I wanted to add additional nutrients to see if that would get it going again. I didn’t find any kombucha-specific information on that, so I decided to run an experiment! A while back, I ran experiments trying to ferment with minimal ingredients, like tea-only and sugar-only. The tea-only trial did nothing, which would be great to see if additives help, but since tea already provides the needed nutrients, that wouldn’t make a good starting point for an experiment of nutrient additions. In contrast, the sugar-only trial was lacking nutrients, which makes it similar to my current interest. Unfortunately, it also kinda worked, though the results were weird. Still, it should be pretty easy to tell if I can improve on weird, so I used my sugar kombucha as the basis for this experiment.
After 16 days of fermentation, I bottled my third batch of cider. This one was just like the last, except with the addition of 1/4 tsp of powered chestnut tannin. In theory, the tannin should make the cider more interesting (through body and “bite”), though apples are relatively high in tannin already, so it may not have been useful.
I added scoby to jar of Simple Truth coconut water. This brand appears to have quite a bit less sugar than other brands (even the unsweetened ones), so I wasn’t sure if I would need to add sugar to get it working. I decided to leave it for a week or two, and play it by ear. Most recipes for fermented coconut milk are either CW + water kefir grains, or CW + <your favorite probiotic capsule>, so I hoped CW + scoby will work just fine.
Yes, fermenting something that’s already fermented sounds a little crazy, what can I say? Inspired by my success at adding vodka to the normal kombucha fermentation process, and the ongoing batch of kombucha-fermented cider, I decided to see what would happen if I added a kombucha scoby to a bottle of red wine. Rather than a nice continuation of the vodka experiments, I mashed the two together.
I’ve taken notes on quite a few different batches of kombucha not yet documented in a blog post. This is one of those…
I made two batches in parallel, one with Assam and one with Darjeeling. Other than the different teas, everything was identical, and followed my usual kombucha procedures.
My first batch of kombucha-fermented cider turned out pretty well, to the point of sparking interest from my kids, so I quickly made another batch. This was largely the same as the first time around, this time remembering to have the heat on the whole time (as the first batch was intended). There was also a small procedural difference: since the first batch ended up over-fermented, I was careful to check pH and flavor every two days. Continue reading
I’ve taken notes on quite a few different batches of kombucha that aren’t yet documented in a blog post. This is one of those…
I’ve seen yerba mate mentioned as a possible “tea” for kombucha. My research indicated that it should have adequate levels of nitrogen and other nutrients to sustain the culture, so I decided to give it a try. Reed’s kombucha is made from a mix of yerba mate and oolong tea, which also suggests that it should work, but I don’t think most commercial kombuchas actually use cultures that propagate from one batch to another, so it doesn’t really speak to the sustainability of yerba mate. Then again, anything that isn’t overtly antimicrobial is probably workable in a blend.
I’m fond of cider, and I was curious what would happen if the “usual” cider fermentation process was augmented with a kombucha culture. I dropped a scoby into unpreserved apple cider to find out. On one hand, it seemed promising, since hard cider (fermented “naturally” or otherwise) tends to happen readily and has tasty results. On the other hand, I wasn’t adding anything with acid or alcohol to help ensure that the kombucha culture dominated the process. It would be possible to end with something disgusting, or even toxic.
I generally make one post for each experiment. In this case, I started and ended these three at the same time, and none of them were particularly noteworthy. Well, almost nothing was noteworthy. Obviously I found value in noting the fact that they didn’t work.
This is not just kombucha flavored with sassafras, which was a disappointment when I tried it. Instead, this is 1 quart of sassafras tea fermented with a kombucha culture. I steeped 2 tablespoons of dried sassafras in 1 pint of boiling distilled water for three hours (until it was cool). Then I added 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup strong (pH 2.8) kombucha tea from my scoby hotel.
This was a 1 quart experiment in which I steeped dried goji berries and fermented the result.
Some time ago I purchased acid-range pH strips, but they were relatively expensive, had an overly-wide range, and never seemed all that accurate. Just over a week ago I picked up a bottle of 100 wine-range pH strips, and I’m pleased to say that they are better on all counts. I’ll start measuring each batch, and a variety of other things, too.
Below is the result of two previous experiments, and two new ones. Since I only get 2-3 cups of finished product, I’m not planning to add any additional flavoring when I bottle.
Yesterday I bottled my first batch of rooibos kombucha. I made it just like my regular kombucha, but with 1/2 cup of loose rooibos rather than two family-size decaf tea bags.
As I understand it, this is the chemistry (biology?) involved with basic kombucha, oversimplified. I’m not an expert, but I’m presenting this as my effort to work though the process of what is needed, why it is needed, and how it ends up producing something desirable.
As I understand it, the tea in kombucha could be replaced with most anything that is high in nitrogen. One substance that satisfies the nitrogen requirement is chocolate, or more precisely, cocoa powder. Could it work? I’ve never seen of anyone even mention the possibility of brewing with cocoa*; I have no idea.
I followed the same recipe as my usual kombucha, but using 1/2 cup of fine-ground, dark-roast Colombian coffee in place of tea. After brewing for 17 days, the fermentation was easily noticeable, but the coffee flavor was still prominent. Since I can’t really notice the tea flavor in my usual kombucha, I let it go a little longer to see if the coffee flavor would decrease. I tasted it again at 24 days and the acidity was getting a little overly strong without any abatement of the coffee flavor, so I decided to bottle it.
As mentioned in my last post, I recently bottled kombucha made from hojicha tea. It started out really promising, as it had a really nice flavor that was rich and mild, but with enough strength to keep it interesting. However, I discovered that most of that disappeared upon bottling and refrigeration. It’s a bummer, but even still it was good enough to drink a quart without any added flavor. Perhaps this is something to consider as a continuous brew, where I use a spigot to draw off however much I need at the moment.
My last batch of kombucha had a flavor I didn’t enjoy, and I’d like to figure out why. I initially surmised that it must be due to the use of Gunpowder Tea, but it eventually occurred to me that this was also only the second time I’ve used loose-leaf tea. In the first instance I used 2 tablespoons of Oolong, which was approximately the same volume (though perhaps less density) as my usual family-size tea bags. My second time with loose-leaf I did a bit more research and decided that 4 tablespoons of gunpowder should be the common measure for 1 gallon of finished tea. (I also described this process here.)
A week ago I bottled my kombucha made with gunpowder tea. It fermented for 28 days and is probably my second-worst tasting brew (after brown rice kombucha). The flavor isn’t intense, but isn’t all that pleasant. And unlike me previous batches, the flavor hasn’t gotten milder over time.
While reading Gunther Frank’s book, I was intrigued by the description the use of alcohol in making kombucha. It’s also mentioned on his website, albeit with less less discussion than what I recall (or imagined) being in the book. I’ve read somewhere that Kombucha starts to brew with the yeast turning the sugar into alcohol, and then continues with the bacteria turning the alcohol into acid. Thus, adding a little high-proof alcohol not only helps prevent contamination by unwanted organisms, it also allows the bacteria to start working without waiting for the yeast.
A few nights ago I bottled a double batch of Kombucha Tea. One was an experiment I’ll describe in another post. The other was a batch made with long-steep oolong tea. I held back a pint plain, and flavored a quart each with Lemon Ginger (Stash), Blueberry Bliss (London Fruit & Herb), and Strawberry & Vanilla Fool (also LF&H).
As mentioned last time, my latest batch of ‘buch started with decaf Luzianne tea that had been cold-steeped for 24 hours. I said that I thought it would be ready after another week, but at mid-week it didn’t seem close, so I wasn’t expecting it to be ready this evening. Nevertheless, my prediction was on the mark, and it was ready to bottle this evening.