Q: Is kombucha good for me?
A: As with any tonic, it is up to the consumer to decide its benefits. We cannot make any specific claims because people metabolize differently. We can say that if you have a hard time metabolizing alcohol, kombucha probably is not for you.
Q: Can I get drunk from drinking kombucha?
A: I can't get drunk from drinking kombucha. I've tried. Typically, the ABV of kombucha at the time of bottling is around .5%. However, there is some alcohol in kombucha so people who are extremely sensitive to alcohol can be affected by drinking it. If kombucha is kept refrigerated from bottling until consumption, the yeast will likely remain dormant which should prevent further fermentation.
Q: Is my Goldfinch Kombucha SCOBY organic?
A: The Goldfinch Kombucha facilities are not certified organic. However, every SCOBY can trace its origin to one, certified organic mother. The tea we use is certified organic green tea. The sugar we use is fair-trade, certified organic cane sugar. The cloth we use is certified organic cotton.
Q: Do I have to use green tea?
A: No, but you have to use real tea from the tea plant camellia sinensis. That means white, green, black, oolong, pu-erh.
Q: How much space will I need?
A: It depends on how many jars you'd like to have around. You'll need a warm, dark area to keep your jar(s). Store your kombucha away from areas of food preparation to avoid contamination.
Q: Is there a weird smell?
A: Well, it depends on what you consider weird. Right now, we have a 100 jar SCOBY farm and our space smells a little like fresh peaches. The closer your kombucha is to its bottling time, the more potent the vinegar aroma. Keep your kombucha production clean and the aroma shouldn't be a problem.
Q: Sometimes it floats, sometimes it sinks. What's going on with my SCOBY?
A: No problem. Both situations are okay. When the culture sinks, a new culture will start to form on the surface. It's important not to disturb the liquid during this period so that the new growth can complete its initial formation.
Q: What tea is best to use?
A: Many professionals recommend a tea solution of both black and green tea, but it's your palate we're trying to please. The pigments in black tea will darken the SCOBY. For that cosmetic reason alone, we've included only green tea in the DIY kit.
Q: I don't want to consume a lot of sugar. Is the sugar necessary?
A: Yes. The sugar is part of the nutrient solution that feeds the yeasts surrounding the SCOBY. If you were to leave the solution for an extended period, eventually all of the fermentable sugar would be metabolized by the yeasts. How long this takes depends on the size of the SCOBY and the amount of sugar you added initially to the tea. If you're looking for a dryer(less sweet) kombucha, experiment with adding a little less sugar or allow the fermentation time to extend.
Q: How long before I can bottle and drink my first batch?
A: Usually 14-21 days to bottle and another 5 days to drink. Your scoby is dramatically affected by temperature. The cooler the space, the slower the conversion from tea to kombucha and vice versa.
Q: What is the brown stringy stuff?
A: These are strings of yeast. You may want to filter this yeast out at bottling. It is harmless, but will add a texture to the kombucha. Simply pour the kombucha through a kitchen strainer before bottling.
Q: Can mold grow on the kombucha?
A: Yes, it can. It will resemble the fuzzy mold that grows on any old food. You can avoid mold by keeping everything clean while producing kombucha. If mold occurs, discard the liquid and the kombucha SCOBY.
Q: I don't have enough mother or starter liquid.
A: Non-fermented vinegar will work in a pinch such as white distilled. For your one gallon glass jar, use 3 tbsp of vinegar.
Q: My new SCOBY looks funny. Is there something wrong with it?
A: No. If you prefer a blemish-free SCOBY, weight the mother down with something, and the developing SCOBY will likely form with smooth surfaces. Either way, though, your SCOBY is healthy.
Q: If you add flavors, does it affect the potency of the drink?
A: Not unless you significantly dilute the kombucha. Don't be afraid to experiment with flavors while bottling, however, avoid adding solids to your bottled beverage. Strain out any pulp from juices before adding. Do not try to flavor your kombucha while the SCOBY is still present. Until you're dealing with a finished beverage that is being bottled, stick with tea and only tea.
Q: Why does the level of alcohol vary from batch to batch, bottle to bottle?
A: Because kombucha undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle, the alcohol content of the final product can be affected in a few different ways. Remember: SUGAR + YEAST = ALCOHOL + CARBON DIOXIDE + HEAT. So, you can increase the alcohol content of your kombucha by ensuring that the recently bottled kombucha has enough sugar and yeast remaining to create an extended secondary fermentation, similar to that which champagne undergoes. Since there is no SCOBY to consume the produced alcohol, the resulting ABV (alcohol by volume) goes up. Refrigeration will cause the yeast to become dormant, so in order for secondary fermentation to occur, the bottled kombucha must sit at room temperature for 1-2 weeks. If you prefer a sweeter kombucha without the alcohol, then you can refrigerate your kombucha immediately after bottling.
Q: What do I do with an extra SCOBY?
A: You could start another jar of kombucha. Simply repeat the original recipe. You could also keep it as a backup. If you choose this option, store the SCOBY and prepared kombucha to cover in a clean glass container. Cover with a clean swatch of fabric and place it in your refrigerator.
Q: What is up with the fruit flies?
A: Tell me about it. I found two solutions that work and I recommend you do both. 1. Pour boiling water down your sink drain once a day. They lay their eggs and do their general socializing down there. Make it uninhabitable for them. 2. Build a trap: Place a cup of strained kombucha (to remove all the little scoby particles) in a shallow bowl or container and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Secure with a rubber band and, using a toothpick, poke 10-20 holes in the plastic. Store the trap near your kombucha jars.
Q: When is it time to split my kombucha into another jar?
A: The mother scoby you started with was just large enough to support kombucha production in a 1 gallon jar - about 1 inch thick. When your SCOBY has doubled in size, it's ready to split. Gently pull them apart. They should split easily. If you're not ready or interested in producing multiple jars, you can leave it alone and the scoby will grow quite large. The larger the scoby, the faster it will produce finished kombucha.
Q: Sugar vs. honey vs. agave nectar vs. any other sweetener. What's the difference?
A: Stick with the sugar. Remember, the sugar is for the nutrient solution. The nuances and arguable health benefits of various sweeteners will likely change or be eliminated before the kombucha fermentation is final. Also, many of the volatile oils in honey, for example, can alter and potentially damage the SCOBY in the long run. If you choose to experiment with a variety of sweeteners, be sure to keep a healthy SCOBY on the side, just in case.
Q: What will kill my SCOBY?
A: Scalding. Exposure to tea that is too hot may kill it immediately. Direct sunlight and frost may severely damage the SCOBY although a full recovery is possible.
Q: When is my SCOBY over the hill?
A: As the yeast around the culture begins to darken to a cappuccino color and tear easily while the surface of the SCOBY itself becomes withered, it's getting too old. As the SCOBY ages, it produces a kombucha that is more acidic and slightly acrid. By the time your SCOBY is too old to produce fresh kombucha, it should have yielded at least one or two offspring to replace itself. Discard your SCOBY in your compost bin.
Q: How do I store my SCOBY if I don't want to use it for an extended period of time?
A: Place your SCOBY in a glass dish and cover it with prepared kombucha. Cover the top with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. As long as the SCOBY does not become contaminated with food debris, it will be safe for many months. The yeast cells fall dormant in low temperatures and will revive when brought back to room temperature during the preparation of your next batch. The SCOBY must not dry out or it will die.
Q: How important is cleanliness during kombucha preparation
A: Cleanliness is vital. During kombucha production, you're dealing with micro-organisms. The highest standards of hygiene must apply at all times. If you think it might need to be cleaned, or cleaned again, do it.
Q: There seems to be debris in my bottled kombucha. What is it?
A: If it's fuzzy, it's mold. If it's mold, throw it out. Otherwise, and much more likely, it's either yeast or strands of kombucha that have grown to a significant size from the find particles that made it through your kitchen strainer. Both are harmless, but can be annoying when they prevent you from enjoying the entire beverage. The presence of air triggers kombucha SCOBY growth, so make sure your bottling container is sealed tight. The yeast will likely precipitate to the bottom of the bottle and will be relatively easy to avoid if you don't like the texture. If the yeast is floating at the surface, it's likely that the cap is not sealed tightly and the escaping carbonation is pushing the yeast to the surface. In this case, tighten the cap.
Q: There is a film growing on the surface of my kombucha. It kind of looks like mold. What is it?
A: If it's fuzzy – really fuzzy - it's mold. Discard the whole thing, SCOBY and all. If it starts as a clear film and grows larger and milky in color, you're growing a healthy daughter SCOBY. Leave it alone and let it develop in peace while you're waiting for the kombucha solution to ferment. Since the SCOBY needs air to grow, all new growth will occur on the surface area of the liquid. When pulling this new SCOBY and your previous SCOBY out of the solution during bottling, cover both with enough prepared kombucha to service your next batch(es) as starter. When placing the SCOBYs into the next batch, always place the developing SCOBY at the top of the nutrient solution to promote its growth. When the daughter SCOBY is large enough to support its own batch, you can separate it from its mother and allow it to ferment on its own.
Q: I bottled my kombucha and after a few days it developed a brown film along the surface area. What is it?
A: It's the yeast. And it's not harmful. Typically, the yeast will float to the top when the cap is not sealed tightly enough. If the natural carbonation developing within the kombucha is allowed release at the top of the bottle, it will push the yeast up with it. No problem, tighten the cap. The yeast should gradually precipitate to the bottom.
Q: It looks like a little SCOBY growing at the top of my bottled kombucha. What's going on?
A: Awww…there is a baby SCOBY in the jar. If the cap to the jar allows for any air transfer, the kombucha strands in the beverage will continue to grow. Other than continuing the natural metabolism that occurs when the SCOBY is present in the tea – i.e. everything that occurs in the fermentation jar before you bottle - the tea should be just fine. You can pitch the little thing and drink it.
Q: How quickly should I expect the SCOBY to grow?
A: SCOBY growth is typically slow and the growth is even slower in colder temperatures. Ideal temp for rapid growth is 76-84F. Even at these higher temps, a SCOBY would barely start to form on the surface of the tea over the course of one week. Although the kombucha fermentation process takes approximately 14-21 days, the SCOBY daughter that grows is typically too small to be split from the mother and they need a few more cycles together before the daughter can support its own gallon. If/when your kombucha is ready to bottle and you make another batch, place the kombucha daughter above the mother in the tea. All new SCOBY growth happens on the surface area, so this will allow the new growth to attach to the daughter.