Kombucha

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  • Elderberry Kombucha Tea GI
  • Bacteria Light Blue GI
  • Kombucha Mass GI
  • Kombucha Pitcher & Glass GI

Kombucha

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  • Description
  • Active Ingredients
  • Who will benefit
  • How to use
  • Precautions
  • Reculturing
  • Reculture Instructions
  • Rural Delivery RD
  • Reviews

Kombucha is an incredibly interesting and ever-changing 'thing' that looks like a cross between a large mushroom or an overgrown abalone. The 'thing' produces fermented tea that has been used for centuries as a healing elixir and curative.

Kombucha is an extremely powerful probiotic. It is easy to make and look after and provides an array of bacteria and yeast that you won't get from simply taking yogurt.

It has ancient origins and is full of strains of helpful bacteria. It is an easy and effective way to repopulate your healthy gut flora. It works as a detoxifier and alkaliser and has across the board application. Joe Weider (American body building guru) recommends it for use with weight loss and removal of toxins post training.

Kombucha is an elixir of everyday health and vitality commonly leading to increased energy and better complexion. There is also a wide body of evidence showing sometimes dramatic health improvements from sufferers of long-term illnesses like arthritis, rheumatism, eczema, acne, allergies, digestive disorders, high blood pressure, poor circulation and high cholesterol.

With your Kombucha purchase you will receive a Kombucha 'Mushroom' and sufficient fermented Kombucha tea to start your own Kombucha culture. The culture ferments in about ten days and will provide you with a limitless supply of Kombucha. The brewing process produces a 'baby' which you can separate to make a second brew or give to a friend.

It produces large quantities of Malic acid which is a common ingredient in cosmetics due to its ability to tighten the skin. I use it topically on my face and it has significantly tightened my skin.

It grows, reproduces, changes shape depending on the container you put it in so there is a bit of entertainment value involved as well.

THINGS TO NOTE:

  • You will be receiving a live culture and it should be opened and recultured as soon as it practicable
  • It will come in a plastic pottle marked 'Probiotic Culture' and even if you are not in a position to reculture straight away you should open the lid to allow it to breathe
  • We will send to rural delivery addresses but the risk is yours

 

People around the world have been drinking Kombucha for thousands of years. The flavour and probiotic benefits of Kombucha are like to other. But what makes it work? Basically as the Kombucha mushroom digests the sugar and tea it produces a range of organic acids, vitamins (particularly the B range and C) and amino acids

It is a complex probiotic, partly because it is a mixture of bacteria and yeast and partly because of the large range of acids and nutrients it creates. No two Kombucha ferments will ever be the same, but some of the main active ingredients and the nutrients they produce include:

Acetobactor

Acetobactor
This is an aerobic bacteria (requires oxygen) strain that produces acetic acid and gluconic acid. This strain of bacteria is found in all Kombucha ferments. This strain of bacteria produces acetic acid and gluconic acid.

It also plays a role in forming the mushroom. There are about 15 different species of acetobactor bacteria and you might expect to find up to 3 or 4 of them.

Lactobacillus bacteria

Lactobacillus
An aerobic bacteria that is generally found in Kombucha, but not always. This is a 'friendly' bacteria comprised of lots of species. This bacteria will reside in the digestive, urinary and genital organs and provide a protective role.

The lactobacillus bacteria is commonly considered helpful with:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Preventing diarrhea
  • Inflammation of the colon
  • Treating infections caused by Heliobactor pylori
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs), vaginal yeast infections
  • Protection against the common cold, and
  • Skin conditions such as blister, sores, eczma and acne (in many folk medicine recipes the mushroom is used directly on the skin)

Pediococcous bacteria

Pediococcus
This is an aerobic bacteria that is commonly found in Kombucha, but not always. It has the ability to colonise a large part of the human digestive tract. It is a strain of bacteria that is not commonly found in commercially produced probiotics.

Pediodocci bacteria are antagonistic against other harmful bacteria and microorganisms that include pathogens. They work through the production of lactic acid and the secretion of a substance called pedicons.

The pediococcus bacteria is considered useful for:

  • Treating both diarrhea and constipation
  • Enhancing the immune system
  • The relief of stress, and
  • Guarding against pathogen infestation of the small intestine, particularly by Salmonella and Shigella

Pedioccus is more likely to be present where Kombucha is fermented at a higher temperature.

Gluconacetobactor kombucha

Gluconoacetobactor
Is a anaerobic bacteria that is unique to Kombucha. It comes in the form of a polysaccharide (complex sugar) and has a role in helping form the structure and shape of the mushroom.

It is another bacteria that produces acetic and gluconic acid thus has a role in:

  • Control of overeating and feelings of fullness that is commonly associated with eating food containing acetic acid
  • Assists in managing blood sugar and insulin levels by lowering the Glycemic Index (GI) of carbohydrates
  • Lowering total cholesterol levels and assisting in the management of HDL/LDL cholesterol balance
  • Preventing infection through its antimicrobial properties
  • Regulation of pH levels, and
  • Energising the body

You are most likely to have high concentrations of Gluconoacetobactor present if the ferment is controlled around 28 to 30 degrees.

Saccharomyces

Saccharomyces
There could be up to 6 or 7 sacchromyces yeast strains in any Kombucha ferment. It is one of the organisms responsible for the slight alcohol content of Kombucha.

Saccharomyces is a non-pathogenic yeast that performs a range of beneficial functions in the intestinal tract. It has a two-fold action of helping to increase the number of helpful bacteria whilst at the same time crowding out the disease-causing microbes.

It is a transient yeast, meaning it moves through the intestines. It produces lactic acid and a number of other acids and studies have shown that it is antagonistic to the Candida yeast species.

Brettanomyces

Brettanomyces
This is a type of yeast that is commonly found in Kombucha. It is one of the yeasts in the fermentation that produces alcohol and also some of the distinctive flavour of Kombucha.

it is added to certain styles of beer and added to some wines to increase the complexity of the flavour.

The health benefits derived from this yeast in the Kombucha fermentation comes from the fact that it produces Acetic acid.

Zygosaccharomyces kombuchaensis

Zygosaccharomyces
Is a straiin of yeast that is recently discovered and unique to Kombucha. It is responsible for inverting sucrose to ethanol which the bacteria use to produce acetic acid.

It is also responsible for some of the carbonation in Kombucha and also the structure of the Kombucha mushroom.

All the yeasts in the Kombucha ferment are in a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria which accounts for the complex range of enzymes and nutrients that make up a mature Kombucha ferment.

Acetic acid

Acetic Acid
The bacteria in the Kombucha mushroom produce the acids which have a range of health-giving and protective qualities. Acetic acid is an antiseptic and inhibitor of pathogenic bacteria. It is strongly antagonistic to streptococci, diplococci, flexner and shigella and is a significant contributor to the probiotic powers of Kombucha.

It also performs a number of other functions beyond its antimicrobial role, it is valuable through its ability to:

  • Maintain blood sugar levels
  • Assist with weight loss
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Maintain an alkaline acid balance in the body, and
  • Be used topically to treat dandruff and acne

Gluconic acid

Gluconic Acid
Gluconic acid is also produced during the ferment. It is a very useful substance for the body as it is a good source of glucose. It has a number of functions, particularly related to energising the body. It is helpful for people suffering from energy and stamina related issues. Gluconic acid is also found in honey and some fruit.

Gluconic acid also carries out a number of other roles, including:

  • Hydrating the skin (it is commonly used in many skin care products that target anti-ageing)
  • Producing glucosamine as a by-product which is used to support the body's cartilage, collagen and joint cushioning fluid
  • Acting as an acidity regulator (which helps to explain Kombucha's ability to alkalise the body even though it is acid)

Glucuronic acid

Glucuronic Acid
Glucuronic acid is one of the substances responsible for the antioxidant activity of Kombucha and is one of the few identified detoxifying organisms that is effective with toxins from the petroleum, plastics, resin and herbicide sectors.

Glucuronic acid synthesises into a substance called glucuronide which makes glucuronic acid water soluble. This water solubility increases the ability of the human body to utilise gluconic acid for the elimination of toxins from the body; which it does via the liver and kidneys though urine or faeces.

Lactic acid

Lactic Acid
Is one of the important organic acids responsible for the energising powers of Kombucha. Lactic Acid is essential for healthy digestive action and energy production by liver.

Lactic acid breaks down in the body to form lactate and hydrogen. Lactate finds its way into body cells and will either remain in the cell for energy or leave the cell and travel to active and inactive muscles to be used as a fuel.

Lactic acid plays an important role during exercise. Whilst exercising, the body works to maintain the availability of glucose for the brain. The making of glucose (gluconeogenesis) is an important function of the liver while exercising, and lactate is the most important precursor for the process of guconeogenesis.

Carbonic acid

Carbonic Acid
Carbonic acid is one of the key ingredients in Kombucha which help keeps the body's Ph level stable. The normal Ph level in the human body is 7.4 and functioning of the body outside this level is impaired.

The typical Western diet leads to a more acidic pH level which results in nerves and muscles starting to weaken, metabolic activities become impaired and body enzymes cease to function normally.

The Carbonic acid from Kombucha in your body releases bicarbonate ions which work actively to resist changes from the 7.4 norm. The interesting thing is it can act as an acid or a base depending on the change required. Carbonic acid can even leach calcium from the bones to change the Ph.

Caprylic acid

Caprylic Acid
Caprylic acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that is found in a number of sources including human breast milk and coconut oil. It is able to provide fungicidal protection at low Ph levels due to its ability to pass the lipid walls of micro-organisms and act against them.

It has a number of very important health giving properties. It is:

  • Very effective in removing 'enveloped' viruses (viruses that are covered in protein structures that give them protection) from the body
  • Able to kill of fungal yeast infections like Candida, and
  • Effective against a number of different strains of the Streptococcuss bacteria, against Staphylococcus aureus and E. Coli.

Citric acid

Citric Acid
Citric acid is more commonly known to us through eating fruits and plays a number of roles in the regulation of our health.

It is an aid for digestion as well as a natural laxative helping to prevent constipation.

Citric acid has proven ability to break down kidney stone through its action on the citric acid balance of the urine.

Usnic acid

Usnic Acid
The most common form of usnic acid is in the fungus/algae that grows in a variety of trees and is commonly known as Old Man's Beard.

Usnic acid has been studied and shown to have a number of benefits that include it being antiviral and antibacterial. It has been shown in studies to inhibit the growth of streptococcus and staphylococcus bacteria.

It works to kill bacteria by disrupting their metabolic functioning by starving them of energy.

It is also linked with weight loss. The explanation behind this is fairly complicated but it is associated with thermogenesis, meaning an increased amount of energy lost as heat.

Malic Acid

Malic Acid
A Kombucha fermentation produces Malic acid. Malic acid is used extensively in the skin care and beauty industries, particularly for products that have an anti-ageing focus. Malic acid has a conditioning effect on the skin due to the fact that it raises the pH of the skin and helps to moisturise it.

You can apply the Kombucha liquid direct to the skin on your face and you will feel a noticeable tightening sensation.

Malic acid is also used (in combination with magnesium) for pain relief from the pains of arthritis.

There seems to be an increasing awareness and understanding of the role a healthy gut flora plays in the maintenance of everyday health and wellbeing. Gut health is not just about your gut being healthy and not giving you day-to-day problems, it is about it's ability to carry out its basic biosynthetic and metabolic functions.

Kombucha provides a wide range of benefits from the energy for everyday living through to the ability to fight specific diseases and infections. People who might benefit include:

Bone, joint & inflammation

Joint Pain Relief
The Kombucha fermentation produces Malic acid which assists in muscle performance and the reduction of muscle fatigue which seems to prove beneficial in the management of pain suffered by people with fibromyalga.

The anti-inflammatory properties of Kombucha have been generally recognised for centuries and has been widely used for this purpose in folk medicines by a range of diverse cultures.

While Kombucha has not been the subject of a lot of scientific studies, (because there is no money to be made from it) there is a considerable body of anecdotal evidence that Kombucha can have a significant impact on joint health and consequent pain relief.

Daily health and wellbeing

Energy
A common theme with people who are regular Kombucha users is that it is energizing. The lift in my energy levels when I first started taking Kombucha was quite noticeable. This energy boost seems to come from a number of sources:

  • The Mailic Acid found in Kombucha plas an important role of cell metabolism and has a centrall role in the energy production of all cells in the body, and
  • The Gluconic Acid in Kombucha contains a significant amount of glucose and is effective in regulating energy levels and stamina and energising the body generally

Dental health

Dental Caries
Kombucha assists in dental hygiene by acting as an antiseptic and encouraging saliva production due to the presence of Malic acid; for this reason you commonly find it in many commercial mouth wash products.

Detox

Detox
The Glycuronic acid produced in a Kombucha ferment has the ability to bind toxins in your liver and make them water-soluble so that you kidneys eliminate the toxins in urine. Tests on the urine of people starting to drink Kombucha show traces of environmental toxins like lead and mercury in the urine.

Kombucha is an effective remedy for heavy metal poisoning. Glycuronic acid has the ability to bind to phenols in the liver and facilitate elimination.

The Malic acid produced in a Kombucha ferment is an effiecient metal chelator, meaning that it has the ability to bond securely with toxic metals such as aluminium and lead that might be present in the body to both limit their abundance and help pass them out of the body.

Diabetes & blood

Type 2 Diabetes
THere are a number of studies that show the consumption of acetic acid containing drinks can provide benefit for people with diabetes. Studies have shown that the consumption of acetic acid with evening meals show significantly improved blood sugar levels in the morning.

There are also a range of studies on both humans and animals that show favourable impacts on levels of triglycerides with the introduction of acetic acid to the diet.

Gut health

Beneficiial Bacteria and Yeast
Kombucha provides a significant proliferation of helpful bacteria and yeast that make it difficult for the 'unhelpful' bacteria and yeast to establish and flourish. Most Kombucha cultures populate your gut with:

  • Acetobactor
  • Saccharomyces boulardi
  • Bettanomyces
  • Lactobacilus
  • Gluconacetobactor kombucha, and
  • Zygosaccharomyces kombucha

In addition to the crowding-out effect the Kombucha bacteria produce a range of substances that are anti-microbial due to the presence of acids kije acetic and gluconic acid. The anti-microbial activity of the acids produced in a Kombucha ferment is against a range of pathogenic bacteria which promotes immunity and general wellbeing.

Skin, hair and eyes

Skin Nourishment
A prolific ingredient in skin care products is Malic Acid due to the fact that when applied to the skin it tightens the pores and increases the smoothness of the complexion. In areas of Europe where Kombucha use is common, long-term Kombucha users are noticable by the smoothness of their skin and the lack of wrinkles.

Daily application of Kombucha to the face has a definite impact on the tightness of the skin and wrinkles which is visible within a couple of weeks. The smell can be a bit off-putting to start with but it seems to be absorbed and fade quite quickly.

Acne
Kombucha can be used for treating acne and has a strong following among alternate health practitioners. It can also be used in congunction with raw coconut oil.

Dandruff
Kombucha is an effective home remedy for the cure of dandruff. The remedy works through restoring the pH balance of the scalp and discouraging the growth of malazzezia furfur which is a yeast like fungus responsible for, or at least a contributor to, dandruff.

The most recommended method is to wet the hair and then wrap with a towel and leave for up to 30 minutes before showering off. Initially the remedy might need to be repeated a couple of times a week.

Weight management

Gut Bacteria & Weight Gain
We have two major strains of bacteria in our gut. Firmicutes and Bacteroides. Research has identified that obese people have a different ratio of these two bacteria than normal range people.

It appears that the correlation with obesity is that firmicutes possess a much more efficient range of food devoluring enzymes, particularly with regard to complex carbohydrates. Meaning they are more efficient, unlock more energy from the same amount of food. Thus one person can eat and exercise the same as another person with a different gut flora and effectively put on weight while the other person remains the same.

A follow-on study found that slim people had 5% of these super efficient enzymes, while obese people had 20%.

It is possible to change the ratio of the  two bacteria in the gut and one of the most effective ways of doing this is adding a probiotic like Kombucha to your diet.

The most effective way to influence the ratio, however is through a combination of probiotics and diet. The study also showed that for people who followed either a low fat or a low carbohydrate diet for a year the amount of bacteroides increased from 5% to 15%.

Acetic Acid
There is some evidence that consumption of acetic acid can lead to weight loss. A published study in 2009 found that obese people who consumed acetic acid daily for twelve weeks experienced significant decreases in body weight, abdominal fat, waist circumference and tryglyceride levels.

Another 2009 study on rodents showed that ascetic acid may help prevent the accumulation of body fat and some liver fats.

Where to Start
Out of the range of common probiotics (yoghurt, milk kefir, water kefir and Kombucha) kombucha is potentially the one which will impact most on your system when you start a regular routine of Kombucha drinking.

Personally I had pains in the stomach, flatulence and a funny sense of listlessness, that wasn’t totally unpleasant but impacted on getting things done. Other people however have much more severe reactions and people can go into a full-blown healing crisis with symptoms that might include:

  • Stomach pains and cramps
  • Flu or flu-like symptoms
  • Body aches and pains
  • Headaches and nausea

The reaction of your body will be individual to you and will depend on a range of factors particularly the state of your current gut flora, general health and any specific health issues that you may or may not be aware of. So on the question of how do I start using Kombucha I would take into account the following:

Be Conservative

Take a Conservative Approach to Start
After 18 months of Kombucha brewing and drinking I pretty much do it intuitively. The days of recording the dates of brews, they type and amount of sugar used and measuring the pH are long gone, but in the first instance it pays to be conservative:

  • Follow the guidelines for the amount of water, tea and sugar
  • Try and ferment at a higher temperature rather than a lower temperature to mitigate the brew being stall but also to increase the range of active bacteria
  • Taste the brew regularly and err on the side of sweet rather than bitter until your taste buds and system have become accustomed

Ease into it

Ease Yourself into the Routine
Easing yourself into the Kombucha drinking routine has a number of components:

Quantity
Kombucha, particularly when it is put through a secondary ferment can be a delightful drink. It’s tasty, fizzy, exotic and very different to anything else we would normally drink, which means that with some brews it is very easy to overdo it.

Set up some guidelines initially and stick to them. My recommendation would be something along the lines of:

  • 100 to 150 mls twice a day which will add up to 2 litres or so over the period of a week
  • Increase gradually up to about 3 litres and add an extra drink during the day if you feel inclined
  • Any increases beyond about 3 litres over the course of a week would be up to the individual but for a normal healthy adult you probably not going to get any additional benefit by increasing the amount of Kombucha you drink
  • The aim is to establish and maintain a healthy gut bacteria and 3 litres of Kombucha a week is ample to maintain that

Quality
Kombucha brewed shorter and at a high temperature will contain more beneficial strains of bacteria. Certain bacteria reproduce in particular temperature ranges. What you cannot do is compensate for the lower temperature by a longer brew. You will change the pH value of the brew but not the range of active beneficial bacteria.

To achieve the higher temperature in parts of New Zealand during winter you will have to brew in the warmest part of the house or introduce some kind of artificial heating source. The easiest way that I have found is using a Heat Pad.

Time to Drink
The third factor that impacts on the benefit you obtain from drinking a probiotic is when you take it. Conventional wisdom says that probiotics are best taken on an empty stomach. However that precept is increasingly being challenged by health researchers. Our traditional sources of probiotics like fermented food and kefir were always consumed as part of food.

The arguments for taking probiotics on an empty stomach or with food include:

  • Advocates of the empty stomach say that food stimulates the secretion of digestive juices and bile acids which can damage or destroy microorganisms
  • Proponent of taking probiotics with meals believe that food acts as a buffer against stomach acid and provides a degree of protection for the probiotic bacteria
  • Food (and we are talk real food here not processed carbohydrates) also typically contains fermentable material that will help nourish the probiotic organisms in their journey through the gastrointestinal tract plus bacteria such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria secret hydrolytic enzymes that aid the digestion of food

There does not appear to be any clear scientific evidence that on an empty stomach or with food is more beneficial but it might be a good idea to keep in mind that throughout evolution humans gained their probiotic cultures through the ingestion of food (and plenty of dirt in many cases)

Sufferers of Candida Albicans might be inclined to avoid Kombucha due to the yeast content. However the active yeast in a Kombucha culture (schizo saccharomycoses) does not have spores and is not of the family of Candida. It actually acts as an antagonist to the Candida yeast.

 Specific Precautions:

  • Candida suffers taking Kombucha should ensure that the sugar is fermented out of the brew as much as possible. You can use a taste test to judge this
  • You should not drink Kombucha during pregnancy due to the ability of some brews to be able to produce alcohol up to about 1%
  • Diabetics should drink the tea when it has undergone a longer fermentation to ensure most of the sugar has been converted
  • Kombucha contains a small amount of Oxalic acid is found in parsley. Oxalic acid prevents calcium absorption and may also contribute to gallstones and kidney stones. For the average person that eats a balanced diet, the small amounts of oxalic acid in Kombucha will not be a health factor. However, those with low calcium health concerns will not want to consume excessive quantities

Kombucha Reculturing
We courier your Kombucha mushroom inside a sealed container. It may look a little squashed but they are quite hardy and it should suffer no ill-effects from the trip; other than if it goes over about 48 hours and the culture is starved of oxygen.

As well as the mushroom there is half a cup of mature Kombucha culture. This will be enough for you to use as your ‘starter culture’. This mature liquid will help inoculate the tea and sugar solution you use with the Kombucha bacteria and yeast.

Once you receive:

  • Take it out of the plastic container immediately to give it some breathing space
  • Start your new culture almost immediately if possible, if not possible place the Kombucha mushroom and the starter culture in a larger jar or plastic container in the fridge until you are ready to make the new culture

Making your first culture

Making your first culture
Ingredients:

  • 1 litre of water
  • ¼ of a cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of loose black tea or 2 tea bags (I have only ever used the tea bag
  • ½ a cup of mature Kombucha ferment
  • 1 Kombucha mother

Process:

  • Mix the water and the sugar and bring to the boil in a suitably sized saucepan
  • Once the water has boiled add the tea, turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for about 15 minutes or more
  • Remove tea bags or strain off the loose tea
  • Allow the tea mixture to cool to at least body temperature
  • Choose an appropriate container. Glass works best. It should be a wide rather than deep container. I have constrained the size of your Kombucha but they like to spread out. I have some that are over 30 centimetres in diameter. They will also grow to the shape of the container you use; so if you use a square container they will change to square
  • Add the sugared tea and the mature fermented mixture
  • Place the mother in the mixture with the opaque, lighter side facing up
  • Cover with some type of cloth or material to allow it to breathe, but keep to keep other bacteria and yeast out. The Kombucha is at its most vulnerable at the start of the ferment when the mature Kombucha water has been diluted by the addition of the tea and sugar
  • Choose a warm place, out of direct sunlight and allow the fermentation process to start
  • After a few days, or a week, depending on the temperature you will see a skin forming on top of the Kombucha. This is the baby Kombucha
  • The Kombucha is probably ready to drink in one week to ten days. The longer you leave it the more acidic it will become. The bacterial and yeast content will also change
  • The best idea is to taste it as it ferments and once the sweetness has changed to an acidic bitterness the Kombucha is ready to drink
  • The water can become quite acidic. I have left them for three or four weeks and the resultant brew just about tears the lining off the back of your throat

Subsequent cultures

Ongoing Culturing
As your mushroom grows you will be able to ferment larger amounts of Kombucha. The initial 1 litre of Kombucha, once you take out the starter liquid for the next culture, is not going to last you many days. To increase the amount of Kombucha you ferment:

  • Transfer the mushroom into a bigger jar. Kombucha likes to spread out so wider rather than narrower jars are best. The greater the surface area of the Kombucha the more liquid it can ferment
  • Increase the amount of liquid a litre at a time. So for the second ferment you might use 2 litres of water, ½ a cup of sugar and 4 teabags
  • Not separating out the babies will also provide you with more culturing power, although eventually your jar will get very crowded.

Drinking your kombucha

Drinking Options
You have a couple of choices once the ferment is mature. You can drink it as it is or you can carry out a secondary ferment. Personally I favour the secondary ferment.

Secondary ferment process:

The secondary ferment process essentially involves re-fermenting the Kombucha, generally using the sugar from fruit:

  • Pour the fermented Kombucha water (making sure to leave half a cup to start the next ferment) and place in a container that has an air tight lid. I use preserving jars
  • Add your favourite fruit, generally cut up into slices so that there is the maximum area of fruit for the Kombucha to act on. What I have tried is lemon, orange, kiwifruit, tamarillo, ginger, fejoa, strawberry and cherries. My favourite is passionfruit. Another that turns out really exotic is putting a whole vanilla bean in the ferment.
  • Leave the fruit to ferment for at least two days. I have left it for up to a week at times. The softer fruits like kiwifruit will go mushy quite quickly and start to ‘foam’  after a few days
  • Once the fermentation is complete (or you can’t wait any longer), strain the mixture into a resealable bottle and put in the fridge
  • The fruit flavoured mixture is now ready to drink
  • It keeps really well. I have kept some brews for 3 months in the fridge and they have been fine. In fact they have improved as they have developed the fizziness of champagne

There can be quite a bit of pressure build up inside the bottle, so you will need to let off some gas at times

Long term care

Caring for your kombucha
Kombucha is quite hardy:

  • The main problem you can occasionally get is mould. Green mould, the same as attacks bread, can sometimes form on the top of the Kombucha. Generally this will only happen at the start of the ferment or if you over-ferment. If you do get mould my advice is to throw the culture out
  • As the Kombucha ferments it will grow a baby. The baby may not totally separate in the first ferment, but it should in the second or third. You have a choice of removing it and making a second Kombucha ferment or just leave it in the one ferment. With two Kombucha in the one ferment the liquid is likely to ferment faster
  • The advantage of having a couple of ferments is that you can stagger the ferments so they mature at different times and you will then have a continuous supply of Kombucha
  • If you are going to have any problems, as with all live cultures, the enemy is over-fermentation. Once they have consumed all the tea and sugar in the brew they are in a process of decline and left in that state for more than a week or two their long-term health becomes problematical

Reculture Instructions
Inside the sealed container is your Kombucha mushroom. It may look a little squashed but they are quite hardy and it should suffer no ill-effects from the trip; other than if it goes over about 48 hours and the culture is starved of oxygen.

As well as the mushroom there is half a cup of mature Kombucha liquid in the container. This will be enough for you to use as your ‘starter culture’. This mature liquid will help inoculate the tea and sugar solution you use with the Kombucha bacteria and yeast.

Once you receive it:

  • Take it out of the plastic container immediately to give it some breathing space
  • My suggestion is to start your new culture almost immediately, if not place the Kombucha mushroom and the starter culture in a larger jar or plastic container in the fridge until you are ready to make the new culture

Making your first culture

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre of water
  • ¼ of a cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of loose black tea or 2 tea bags (I have only ever used the tea bag
  • ½ a cup of mature Kombucha ferment
  • 1 Kombucha mother

Process:

  • Mix the water and the sugar and bring to the boil in a suitably sized saucepan
  • Once the water has boiled add the tea, turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for about 15 minutes or more
  • Remove tea bags or strain off the loose tea
  • Allow the tea mixture to cool to at least body temperature
  • Choose an appropriate container. Glass works best. It should be a wide rather than deep container. I have constrained the size of your Kombucha but they like to spread out. I have some that are over 30 centimetres in diameter. They will also grow to the shape of the container you use; so if you use a square container they will change to square
  • Add the sugared tea and the mature fermented mixture
  • Place the mother in the mixture with the opaque, lighter side facing up
  • Cover with some type of cloth or material to allow it to breathe, but keep to keep other bacteria and yeast out. The Kombucha is at its most vulnerable at the start of the ferment when the mature Kombucha water has been diluted by the addition of the tea and sugar
  • Choose a warm place, out of direct sunlight and allow the fermentation process to start
  • After a few days, or a week, depending on the temperature you will see a skin forming on top of the Kombucha. This is the baby Kombucha
  • The Kombucha is probably ready to drink in one week to ten days. The longer you leave it the more acidic it will become. The bacterial and yeast content will also change
  • The best idea is to taste it as it ferments and once the sweetness has changed to an acidic bitterness the Kombucha is ready to drink
  • The water can become quite acidic. I have left them for three or four weeks and the resultant brew just about tears the lining off the back of your throat

Subsequent Cultures
As your mushroom grows you will be able to ferment larger amounts of Kombucha. The initial 1 litre of Kombucha, once you take out the starter liquid for the next culture, is not going to last you many days. To increase the amount of Kombucha you ferment:

  • Transfer the mushroom into a bigger jar. Kombucha likes to spread out so wider rather than narrower jars are best. The greater the surface area of the Kombucha the more liquid it can ferment
  • Increase the amount of liquid a litre at a time. So for the second ferment you might use 2 litres of water, ½ a cup of sugar and 4 teabags
  • Not separating out the babies will also provide you with more culturing power, although eventually your jar will get very crowded

Drinking your Kombucha
You have a couple of choices once the ferment is mature. You can drink it as it is or you can carry out a secondary ferment. Personally I favour the secondary ferment.

Secondary ferment process:

  • The secondary ferment process essentially involves re-fermenting the Kombucha, generally using the sugar from fruit:
  • Pour the fermented Kombucha water (making sure to leave half a cup to start the next ferment) and place in a container that has an air tight lid. I use preserving jars
  • Add your favourite fruit, generally cut up into slices so that there is the maximum area of fruit for the Kombucha to act on. What I have tried is lemon, orange, kiwifruit, tamarillo, ginger, fejoa, strawberry and cherries. My favourite is passionfruit. Another that turns out really exotic is putting a whole vanilla bean in the ferment.
  • Leave the fruit to ferment for at least two days. I have left it for up to a week at times. The softer fruits like kiwifruit will go mushy quite quickly and start to ‘foam’  after a few days
  • Once the fermentation is complete (or you can’t wait any longer), strain the mixture into a resealable bottle and put in the fridge
  • The fruit flavoured mixture is now ready to drink
  • It keeps really well. I have kept some brews for 3 months in the fridge and they have been fine. In fact they have improved as they have developed the fizziness of champagne
  • There can be quite a bit of expansion, so you will need to let off some gas at times

 

Long term care

Kombucha is quite hardy:

  • The only problem you can occasionally get is mould. Green mould, the same as attacks bread, can sometimes form on the top of the Kombucha. Generally this will only happen at the start of the ferment or if you over-ferment. If you do get mould my advice is to throw the culture out
  • As the Kombucha ferments it will grow a baby. The baby may not totally separate in the first ferment, but it should in the second or third. You have a choice of removing it and making a second Kombucha ferment or just leave it in the one ferment. With two Kombucha in the one ferment the liquid is likely to ferment faster
  • The advantage of having a couple of ferments is that you can stagger the ferments so they mature at different times and you will then have a continuous supply of Kombucha

Rural Delivery
You can choose to send your culture to a rural delivery address but the risk is yours. Some rural delivery services are good but others are not so good and can take days for delivery.

Our suggestion is that you find an alternative address like work, family or friends. Ask them to open the container once it is received to allow the culture to breathe.

Having said that the kombucha culture is quite hardy and if i was going to send any culture to a RD address it would be the kombucha.

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