Saturday, April 23, 2005


Kombucha is a sour, fizzy drink. Imagine a cranberry soda.

Here's how you make it:

  1. Beg, nag, and spam for a starter. They're a bit hard to come by.
  2. boil water (1qt)
  3. steep a few tea bags to make very strong tea (2 bags)
  4. add sugar (1/4c)
  5. cool to body temperature
  6. add kombucha "mushroom"
  7. add kombucha from a previous batch (1/2c)
  8. wait a week

The "mushroom" is an odd structure that kombucha creates. It's also called a "sponge" or "pancake", but it's none of these things. Some call it a "S.C.O.B.Y." (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts), which really just means that we don't know what it is.

From what I've read, kombucha is a bit delicate. Weed organisms may take hold, making it go "off". The 1/2c of kombucha from the previous batch helps set the pH so that kombucha will dominate.

I put it in a wide bowl, put a few long strips of tape over the top, and draped a cheesecloth over it. The cloth allows air to flow in, but keeps out bugs which like the sugar.

Instructions say to keep it somewhere it won't get disturbed, so I used the guest bedroom. They say to start tasting it at 5 days, but I figured the guest room was cooler than the rest of my already cool house, so I let it go a full 10 days.

Today I tasted it (slipped a straw under the edge) and it was really, really sour. 10 days was perhaps a bit much. It was also very tasty.

So I decanted it & started up a new batch.

At first, my 3.5 year old refused to try it based on smell, but eventually decided to take a taste. My wife liked it from the beginning. I think it's delicious.

I'm making the above recipie at 1.5x the stated measurements. Making 1.5qt of kombucha / week just isn't going to cut it for a family of 3, I suspect. I will try to find a bigger bowl, and maybe get two batches going at once (1/2 week apart from each other, perhaps).

You can also put the kombucha in bottles & let them continue to ferment, which becomes more bubbly. I picked up some Grolsch bottles on ebay which I intend to do this in.

I used some good quality green tea, since I don't want caffeine. You can also use black tea & oolong tea. You can't use herbal tea, as kombucha wants to grow on real tea.

The starter you get comes in two parts: a mushroom and a small amount of fresh kombucha. It's possible to get started with just one if you don't have the other, but it's a bit risky. I'd be happy to share my kombucha with anyone who wants to come pick it up. I live near Microsoft in Bellevue, WA. You can also look for sources of Kombucha online

See also the Original Kombucha Yahoo! Group.


Kevin Jackson said...

Well, this is interesting. I did a blog search for caffeine in diet coke and found your site. When I get some time I'll come back and find out where caffeine in diet coke appears and how it relates - if it even does. Take care - nice work.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. You make some good points. You might be interested in fruit and herbal tea. There's a vague connection to what's been discussed here.

Ken said...

Good read. I've also heard of people buying commercial Kombucha and using that as a starter since it has strands in it. Then you can grow your own mother. The person I talked to used "trilogy" from GT Kombucha.

Locke said...

hey Jay! just came across this post and id love to partake in your offer to share your kombucha if its still available! feel free to email me

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