Kombucha Nutrient Experiments

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.

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Kombucha-Fermented Coconut Water

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.

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Kombucha-Fermented Red Wine?

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.

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Kombucha Cider, Batch 2

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

Yerba Mate Kombucha

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.

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Kombucha-Fermented Apple Cider

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.

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Sassafras Kombucha

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.

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Coffee Kombucha

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.

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Hojicha Kombucha

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.

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Doubled-Tea Kombucha

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.)

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Vinegar-Tea Extract Kombucha

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.

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Cold-Brew Kombucha

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.

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