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Newbie Kombucha questions

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I just got 2 scobys from my friend last week. She said to put in tea, and 1 tablespoon of sugar for every liter, plus the scoby, and that's it, and let it sit for a week or two. The stuff that she made wasn't bubbly, just tart.

Other places I checked online said you need to make it acidic, either with previous batches of kombucha as starter, or with citric acid... and it seemed like they put in much more sugar than what my friend does.
I tried making kombucha two ways- one like my friend does, and one with some citric acid and lots more sugar. Her one still isn't finished, but the one I made is bubbly and delicious 3 or 4 days in (and tastes slightly alcoholic).
Is there a problem with putting too much sugar in kombucha? Which way is better? Does it make a difference?

Also, we make a lot of olive leaf tea around here. Can I make kombucha with olive leaf tea, or will it not work? How do you know what kind of teas can work for kombucha?
post #2 of 15
Your friend's recipe sounds like way too little sugar. I make mine a gallon at a time with two large tea bags (I just use regular black tea and don't know how well other kinds of tea would work) and a cup and a half of sugar. I keep a cup or two of the kombucha from the last batch in the jar (I use gallon size glass pickle jars for the first ferment) as my starter. It takes about a week for the first ferment, and then I do a second ferment adding about a pint of juice in a gallon size glass jug with the lid on. This ferments for about another week and gets very very fizzy. I have to open the lid once a day or so to let off the pressure as it ferments. If it tastes too sweet, I'll let it sit a while longer - this goes for both ferments. I know how I like mine to taste, which is not too sweet but not too vinegary. It took a bit of experimentation to get the method down, but it's so worth it!
post #3 of 15
All sources I have read have said tea is needed. But they also say the tannins are what feed the culture (along with sugar). I wonder whether olive leaves have enough tannin for that? Maybe give it a try with a spare scoby when you have one.

I like mine bubbly and I use about a cup of sugar for a gallon of tea. A lot more than your friend. And sometimes what I do is use a kind of tea that's not recommended with a scoby before I toss it, or alternate with batches of plain black tea.
post #4 of 15
The cultures require caffeine to live, so whatever kind of tea you use, it can't be herbal or decaffeinated.
post #5 of 15
My Kombucha recipe is 1 quart of tea (I use either green or black), 1 cup of sugar, 1 SCOBY and 1/2 cup of already fermented tea. It's fizzy and delicious and sweet unless I leave it to ferment for too long.

I've also read that if you don't have leftover Kombucha, you can use vinegar. It essentially 'innoculates' the brew so that it doesn't form mold or rot... Good luck!
post #6 of 15
I have a scoby but no kombucha liquid in a significant amount. Do I need to do something to compensate? My co-op stopped selling so I can't purchase some... TY
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by sassafrass94 View Post
I have a scoby but no kombucha liquid in a significant amount. Do I need to do something to compensate? My co-op stopped selling so I can't purchase some... TY
Adding some vinegar should work.
post #8 of 15
i use all sorts of herbal tea blends and i have had lovely results! my favorite is an organic peach leaf tea. it's very yummy and adds an extra dimension to the kombucha.

purple sage - i'm going to try your double ferment method. i was doing separate jars of double-fermented juice kombucha, but my small kitchen was getting way too cluttered! goodness, i can't believe i never thought of doing it in the gallon jar!
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thyme Mama, when a new scoby forms in the herbal tea, can you use it as you would any other scoby in other teas?
post #10 of 15
Thanks for your reply. I'll give a little braggs acv a try.
post #11 of 15
Originally Posted by sassafrass94 View Post
Thanks for your reply. I'll give a little braggs acv a try.
I was told Never to add vineger. You should not have to add anything but tea, sugar and the scoby. For what its worth I have made Kombucha from Hibiscus tea and honey before and it works perfectly.
post #12 of 15
If you don't have access to kombucha tea to use as starter tea, you'll need to add vinegar (Bragg's is fine). The starter tea of vinegar is critical as it bring the pH level of the liquid down (making it more acidic). The acidic nature of the liquid is what helps keep mold and other scary things at bay. It's very important to be sure to proper ingredient ratios including an adequate amount acidic liquid (starter tea or vinegar). Starter tea is always preferable though in terms of both proper pH level and taste so once you get this current batch going, plan to use some as starter tea for a future batch--but vinegar will get you through this point where you don't have other options.

These are the ingredient ratios I generally recommend:
For a quart of kombucha--
--Approx. 3 cups tea (black, green or a mixture; careful with herbal teas as they make it more difficult to maintain a proper pH balance so the risk of mold is higher)
--1/2 cup starter tea or vinegar
--1/4 cup sugar
--The scoby

ETA: I also recommend if you are going to play around with ingredient ratios, using herbal tea or forgoing the vinegar--be sure you obtain and use a quality pH meter or pH strips so you can test your batch before drinking it (you'll need the pH to be below 4.0 and preferably closer to 3.0). Mold is very uncommon with proper ratios but making recipe adjustments can increase the risk. You can't always see mold and other invaders so it's important to be careful if straying from the recommended brewing practices.
post #13 of 15
I'm also a newbie to Kombucha and am trying to avoid sugar. I have PCOS and need to control my insulin levels. How much sugar am I drinking in a prepared batch of Kombucha? I realize there has to be sugar to make it but when it's done is the sugar content really that high? Help!
post #14 of 15
The sugar content of kombucha is a function of how long you let it brew and whether you add juice as flavoring. To keep the sugar content to the bare minimum, let it brew for 30+ days and don't add any juice. At that point what you are drinking is very close to vinegar with very little sugar presents. I have a batch right now I accidentally left for about 6 weeks and it tastes very close to ACV. I wouldn't let it go any longer than 6 weeks though as the scoby needs food or it can be damaged.
post #15 of 15
I have to watch my sugars as well and my dad who's a natropathihc doctor told me kombucha was fine to drink becasue the sugars are mostly digested by the scoby. He's very anti sugar in anything and won't even allow me to eat fruit so I go by his reccomendation that its ok.
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