Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kombucha FAQ

FAQ about Kombucha

Q. What kind of sugar should I use?
A. White cane sugar is the best as it is easy for the SCOBY to break down and consume. Raw or brown sugar may be used, but put a greater strain on the SCOBY. Do NOT use honey, agave, maple syrup, or corn syrup, or stevia, as these sweeteners will damage the SCOBY over time.

Q. What kind of water is best?
A. Filtered, distilled, or reverse osmosis water is best for Kombucha. Beware of using tap water due to the high chlorine content, which may damage your SCOBY. If you must use tap water, I suggest boiling it rigorously first or letting the water sit in an open container for over 24 hours to let some of the chlorine dissipate.

Q. What kind of tea should I use?
A. Kombucha SCOBY cannot survive without regular feedings from real tea; camellia sinensis. Additionally, it needs caffeine, so don't use decaffeinated or white teas. It is best to use unflavored teas, as the flavored ones contain oils which will damage the SCOBY over time.

Q. What are other ways to care for my SCOBY?
A. SCOBYs are pretty tolerant as long as you use the correct sugar, water, and tea. There are some additional tips I can give however. First, make sure you do not brew your Kombucha in an airtight container, as Kombucha is an aerobic ferment. Cover the jar with a cloth to keep fruit flies and dust out. Second, keep your Kombucha and SCOBY out of direct sunlight. Third, it is ideal to brew Kombucha in a between 70 and 80 degrees. Please don't stick your SCOBY in the fridge; the cool temperature may encourage mold.

Q. Is that mold on my SCOBY?
A. If your SCOBY has green or black spots on it, particularly if they are fuzzy and above the liquid, you probably have mold. However, if the spots are white or brown and are under the liquid, you probably do not have mold. If you are still hesitant, send me a picture! Once a SCOBY develops mold, unfortunately there is no saving it.

Q. What can I do with my SCOBY while I'm on vacation?
A. Just start a fresh batch of Kombucha brewing and leave it! You will probably have some pretty tart Kombucha when you get back, but your SCOBY will be strong and active. Please don't stick your SCOBY in the fridge while you are gone.

Q. What can I do with the SCOBY "babies"?
A. Make more batches of Kombucha! Give one to all your friends! When you start to get overwhelmed by SCOBYs, you can throw them away if you must, but don't put any down the garbage disposal, as they may clog your system eventually. Some people feed small chunks of SCOBY to their dogs for the health benefits. You can also try cutting the SCOBY into bite size pieces, soaking it in sugar-water, and then dehydrating it for a chewy SCOBY candy!

Q. What do I do with old Kombucha vinegar?
A. Try adding some fruit juice to make it drinkable. If it is still too potent, just use it as you would ordinary vinegar; in salad dressings, as a marinade for meat, as a cleaning aid, etc.
Q. What's the starter liquid for?
A. The starter liquid acidifies the tea, so that the SCOBY can start brewing right away.

Q. How much Kombucha can I drink per day?
A. Start out with less than a cup per day and listen to your body. You may find that you get a stomachache if you drink too much at first. Once your body begins to get used to the detoxing effects of Kombucha, you can drink as much as you like!

Q. Does Kombucha contain caffeine?
A. There are varying opinions on this. Studies show that some of the caffeine from the tea still remains in finished Kombucha, but I have heard personal testimonies from people who are unable to drink caffeinated tea, but able to drink Kombucha shortly before bedtime with no problems. Drink at your own discretion!

Q. Does Kombucha contain sugar?
A. The SCOBY consumes most of the sugar, leaving behind fructose and glucose. If you have a low sugar tolerance level, try letting your Kombucha brew longer so that there will be less sugar remaining.

Q. Does Kombucha contain alcohol?
A. The alcohol levels in Kombucha have been shown to be around 0.5% APV. Personally, I believe that Kombucha is safe to give to children.

Q. Can I drink Kombucha if I'm pregnant or nursing?
A. If your body is not used to Kombucha, it is recommended to wait until you finish breastfeeding to start drinking Kombucha. However, it is safe to continue drinking Kombucha if you are used to the detoxing effects and become pregnant.

Q. What do I brew my Kombucha in?
A. Personally, I use gallon-size glass sun-tea jars with a spigot. You can find them at Goodwill or new online. Another option is a large crock. I do not recommend food grade plastic containers, as there is a possibility that chemicals from the plastic will leach into your brew.

Q. Will Kombucha heal my (fill in the blank)?
A. Many people tell stories of powerful healing attributed to regular drinking of Kombucha. While Kombucha cannot be proven to "heal" any disease, it will nourish your body and provide necessary probiotics, thus bringing your body into balance so it can heal itself.

Q. I'm convinced! Now where can I get a SCOBY?
A. First, ask around. You never know who may be brewing Kombucha and be willing to give you a free SCOBY and starter liquid. If you absolutely can't find any in your area, check out Cultures for Health or Kombucha Brooklyn for SCOBY's, starter kits, and equipment.

Basic instructions on brewing Kombucha


  1. What if I didn't put in the right amount of water to teabags and sugar, can I just pour more water into the already fermenting kombucha?

    1. Yes! Kombucha is very forgiving. The same goes for if you didn't add enough sugar to your batch. I think it would be a bit tricky to try to add more teabags though. ;)