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My Kombucha has Mold – What to do?

Mold? Eeewww!!!!! Whenever I see mold, you can expect me to utter eeewwww with such disgust; followed by a sneeze. Yep, I’m one of those people who are sensitive to mold. But even if you are not sensitive or allergic to mold, you should still steer clear of it. Long exposure to mold can cause some health-related issues. Also, mold is the worst thing that could happen to your kombucha brews!!! I’m not even exaggerating.

I have mold in my kombucha, what should I do?

Before doing anything, let me ask you this question first: Are you sure IT IS mold? SCOBYs are not always pretty and new SCOBYs are often get confused for mold. If you are not sure, look at the pictures below.

Pictures of mold in Kombucha SCOBY

kombucha mold what to do
Yep, definitely mold 🙁
mould in kombucha
Sad to say this is also mold in kombucha. Photo from Kombucha Kamp.
Lots of mold in this brew. Photo from Kombucha Kamp

Does the suspected mold in your Kombucha look like any of the pictures? If yes, it is really mold and as much as I hate to break it to you, you have to throw it away. Do not save it by taking it off and rinsing the SCOBY with any kind of liquid. Mold have spores that can spread through the air. Throw it out, far from your house and clean your surrounding including the jars, the spoons, cups and other equipment you used for brewing. It would also help if you rinse your utensils with a strong vinegar. If the suspected mold in your Kombucha tea doesn’t look like any of the pictures above, answer the following questions:

  • Is the suspected mold dry? Is it growing on top of the SCOBY?
  • Does it have spores?
  • Is it greenish in color?
new scoby
Not mold, just new SCOBY. Photo from Kombucha Kamp
yeast strings from kombucha scoby
yeast strings from kombucha scoby. Photo from Kombucha Kamp
yeast strings from kombucha scoby
also yeast strings. Photo from Kombucha Kamp
new scoby
new SCOBY about to grow. Photo from Kombucha Kamp
new scoby
Not mold. just new SCOBY forming. Photo from Kombucha Kamp

If you answered yes to all these questions, it is mold! If not and you are not sure, take a clear picture of the suspect and email it to me at [email protected]

How to Prevent Mold

If you had mold the last time you brewed Kombucha tea and decide to continue your Kombucha brewing journey (which is what you must do. Kombucha is good for you, so don’t let mold stop you from making it again), here are some pointers to keep in mind to prevent mold from growing.

Tips to avoid mold in Kombucha

  1. Make sure everything is sterile: The first time I got mold in my SCOBY (yes, happened to me too!), the only thing that changed in my brewing routine was the use of gloves that I didn’t clean. I was trimming my SCOBY and used gloves. The next day, my kombucha grew mold. This is why I don’t use gloves anymore. I touch my SCOBY with my clean, bare hands.
  2. Use a strong starter tea: Make sure the starter tea you use is strong. That means it’s super sour and has been fermenting for a long time. If you got your kombucha starter kit or kombucha starter kit plus from me, it’s guaranteed the starter liquid is strong.
  3. Use more starter tea: If you are not sure if the starter liquid you got is enough, use more. Instead of one cup per gallon, increase it to two cups.
  4. Change location: Place your brews in a location that is dry. Mold loves moist areas. Also, make sure there are no plants or fruits close to your brews.

 

Are you still not sure if it’s mold or not? Take a picture of your kombucha and send it to jannah at kombucha.ph

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Kombucha Hair Conditioner (Lavender-scented)

Ever heard of Apple Cider Vinegar as hair conditioner? How about Kombucha hair conditioner? Yes, there is such a thing!

kombucha hair conditioner
These are the kombucha hair conditioner and kombucha facial toner that I made

Like ACV, kombucha tea is also a good hair conditioner. It contains amino acids that help in strengthening the roots of your hair that treats hair fall and acetic acid that refreshes your hair and makes it shiny again (or shinier if you already have a shiny crowning glory) !

For the last three years that I have been making my own kombucha tea, I have been rinsing my hair with kombucha hair conditioner on and off. There was a time that I was religiously using it three times a week. But I always forget to fill that little bottle in the bathroom or make the kombucha hair conditioner, so I turn to commercial hair conditioners. Anyway, if you are interested in making your own kombucha hair conditioner, check out the recipe below.

Kombucha Hair Conditioner Recipe

  • 70 ml brewed kombucha tea
  • 7 drops of Lavender essential oil

Materials:

  • funnel
  • spray bottle

Instructions:

  1. Pour 70 ml of brewed kombucha tea to your spray bottle.
  2. Add in 7 drops of Lavender essential oil and shake.

kombucha hair rinse

Note:

Although many recipes for kombucha hair conditioner you can find online call for kombucha vinegar, I didn’t follow them. Because I learned that the natural pH level of our hair is between 4 to 5.5 and the products that you use for your hair should be of the same pH level. This is usually the pH level of kombucha tea we like to drink; slightly acidic but not too sweet. The right pH level will help strengthen the outer layer of our hair, make our hair glossier and less prone to hair breakage. If you use kombucha vinegar, which is very acidic, the hair cuticle will lift and remove the natural oils. This will result to dull and fizzy hair that is prone to breakage.

Also, I chose Lavender essential oil because it helps in improving blood circulation, prevents hair loss and smells amazing!

Have any questions about this recipe? Please leave them out in the comment section below.

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How to Make Caffeine-free Kombucha Tea (Butterfly Pea Kombucha)

clitorea ternatea kombucha

Tea is naturally caffeinated and that means Kombucha tea is also caffeinated. If this is the reason why you are not drinking the beverage that’s been dubbed as the “health elixir” yet, don’t frown! You can make caffeine-free kombucha tea.

organic-butterfly-pea-tea

Yes, you read that right. But, let me be honest with you. This recipe is not 100% caffeine-free, because you need to use a regular starter tea. But the good news is that the caffeine levels of this kombucha recipe is so low, your body might be able to take it. So without further adieu, here’s the recipe.

Caffeine-free Kombucha Tea

Ingredients:

  • 1 live SCOBY
  • 1 cup starter tea
  • 5 TBPS butterfly pea tea
  • 1 gallon water (16 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar (white is recommended)

Equipment:

  • 1 gallon glass jar
  • clean piece of cloth or coffee filter
  • rubber band
  • pot, spoon
  • tea infuser

Makes 1 gallon of Butterfly Pea Kombucha Tea

butterfly blue pea kombucha tea

 

Instructions:

  1. Simmer 4 cups of water. Once the water starts showing bubbles, add your butterfly pea tea and let it steep for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Take out the tea and add 1 cup of sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Pour the mixture in to your jar. Add the remaining 12 cups of water and stir.
  4. Add your live SCOBY and starter tea in to the mixture.
  5. Cover the jar with a piece of cloth or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band
  6. Let it ferment in a warm, dry place with no direct sunlight for 5-7 days. But taste it on the 3rd day to know if it’s fermenting. You will know it’s fermenting when it starts to change color and smells vinegary. If on the 3rd day it is more sour than sweet, harvest it and store in bottles. And as always, leave at least a cup of the tea and the SCOBY inside the jar when you harvest. That will serve as your starter for the next batch you brew.

butterfly blue pea kombucha

Important things to remember when brewing Caffeine-free Butterfly Pea Kombucha Tea

  • The color will change. It can go from dark blue to purple or dark pink
  • Butterfly pea tea has a neutral flavor. You may not get the flavor of regular camellia sinensis (tea). But you can definitely taste the unique flavor of kombucha tea. If you want to enhance the flavor, add fruits or herbs after the first fermentation. Just like you would do with the regular kombucha tea.
  • The SCOBY may turn light blue or violet and may not grow like the SCOBY we get from regular kombucha tea.

 

butterfly pea tea philippines

Want to make your own caffeine-free Kombucha tea? Click this to buy kombucha starter kits and butterfly pea tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kombucha Bottling: What bottles should I use?

As soon as you start making your own kombucha tea at home, I’m pretty sure you would also start looking for bottles and worse (or better?) you will become a bottle hoarder. Don’t worry, I’m not judging you because I’ve also been one. But, what bottles do you really need for your brew?

Since Kombucha is acidic, it is recommended to use glass bottles. If you can’t find glass bottles, you can also use glass jars. If both glass bottles and jars are not available, you can use plastic bottles. However, you need to make sure that the plastic is food-grade.

Grolsch_premium_lager_bottle_unopened

If you have old Grolsch beer bottles like this one, consider yourself lucky! Many kombucha brewers love these beer bottles, especially the vintage ones. They are great for carbonated drinks and easy to open because of the fliptop.

kombuchaph I couldn’t find old Grolsch bottles or even fliptop beer bottles from where I am, so I resorted to buying these fliptop bottles from a local mall. I think they are for milk, because of the cow. But they worked well for bottling my kombucha tea.

water kefir

Right now, these are the bottles that I’m using. I got them for 95 pesos each at a local mall.

 

kombucha scoby
I’ve also tried using canning jars to store my kombucha tea. They are ok but I didn’t get a lot of carbonation unlike when I use bottles.

Have more questions about bottling kombucha tea? Leave your question in the comment section below.

Order glass bottles here.

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Sugar for Kombucha Brewing: Which type should I use?

Sugar for brewing kombucha

Sugar is one of the staples in Kombucha brewing. It is the food of the yeast; the fuel that helps the yeast in fermenting your tea. For people who are cutting down their sugar consumption, do not worry. The sugar in Kombucha tea is not added sugar that is only added to make the tea tastier. The yeast and bacteria need it to procreate. Simply put, you can’t make Kombucha without the sugar. If this is not a problem to you, which I don’t think should be, you should head on to finding the right sugar for brewing Kombucha.

Types of Sugar for Kombucha

What type of sugar should I use in Kombucha brewing?

 

Organic Cane Sugar

organic cane sugar for kombucha

Kombucha brewers from other countries usually suggest using organic cane sugar, which is what I also suggested to newbie Filipino brewers who asked me before. Cultures for Health tags it as the best option for Kombucha brewing because it didn’t go through a lot of processes and the cane used to make it was not fertilized. However, it is difficult to find organic white sugar in the Philippines and if you could find some, it is expensive. If budget is not an issue, by all means use organic cane sugar.

White Sugar

Sugar_2xmacro

White cane sugar can be found easily in supermarkets and even in wet markets around the Philippines. It is also not as expensive as organic cane sugar. Therefore, this is what I use now for brewing Kombucha tea. White cane sugar also do not have a strong scent compared to other types of sugar, so it is ideal for me. It doesn’t overpower the scent of the teas and flavors I use.

Brown Sugar & Muscovado Sugar

Brown_sugar_examples

Brown cane sugar can also be easily found anywhere in the Philippines. It is also cheap. I have used this in brewing some batches, but I did not observe how it affected the SCOBY and/or if made the tea more bubbly. It made the tea darker though. I will try using brown sugar again and observe what it does to my kombucha tea. I’ve read that it shortens the life span of SCOBYs though, so if you’re a newbie brewer and don’t have a spare SCOBY, do not use brown cane sugar just yet.

Agave, Maple Sugar, Coconut Sugar, Palm Sugar Syrups

Maltose_syrup

 

I have honestly never tried using any of these types of sugar except for Coconut Sugar. I know some people who have used these types of sugar and had no problems. However, many seasoned kombucha brewers don’t suggest using any of these, as the oil and other properties of these types of sugar could be detrimental to the health of the SCOBY.

maxresdefault (1)As for coconut sugar, I have tried using it and liked it. What I didn’t like about it is its odor and the fact that it’s more expensive than regular white sugar. Also, I noticed that SCOBY formation is slow when I used coconut sugar.

Honey

honey for kombucha

Honey is great. The only problem is that honey, especially raw honey, has chemical properties that does not allow microorganisms to grow. Natural yeasts and bacteria from your environment that you need in brewing kombucha tea may not grow if you use honey. If you really want to use honey in your kombucha tea, it’s best to use it during second fermentation.

Do you have other questions about brewing kombucha tea? Leave it in the comment section below. Click here to find kombucha starter kits and start brewing kombucha tea now!

Note: All photos not mine. Credits to owners.

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Tepache Recipe: Make Your Own Tepache At Home

how to make tepache

One of the most common and cheapest fruits in the Philippines is Pineapple. It is also rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. Because of that, I often use pineapples during to flavor my Kombucha Tea.

My first ever #Tepache. Tepache is a mexican fermented drink made using peels and cores of pineapple, water and sugar….

Posted by Kombucha Philippines on Thursday, 25 February 2016

I have just flavored another batch of Kombucha tea with Pineapples and thought about keeping the cores and peels instead of throwing them away. I have heard about Tepache before and never cared enough to look for its recipe. But this time, I didn’t want to share the peels and cores of my pineapples with the worms in my compost pit. So I decided to make the Mexican Pineapple beer. I quickly looked for a recipe.

how to make tepache
Tepache in barrels

I found many recipes of Tepache. Some called for beer, cinnamon and cloves. I don’t have beer and cloves at home and I’m the only one in the family who likes cinnamon. So, I opted to skip the spices and the beer. I followed the Tepache recipe I found at Cultures for Health. The recipe in Cultures for Health didn’t have measurements, so I just added sugar enough to my liking. Also, I added some of the fresh pineapple meat (?) I have. Here’s my tweaked Tepache recipe:

tepache
My homemade Tepache. I ran out of jars because of Kombucha. So I used a glass pitcher instead.

Materials:

  • A quarter jar or a glass pitcher
  • A piece of cloth
  • A rubber band
  • Spoon, knife

Ingredients:

  • Peels and cores of 1 pineapple
  • A quarter of a pineapple (the fruit itself, peeled and cored)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4-5 Tbs. brown sugar

Instructions:

  1. Remove the crown and peel your pineapple. Divide it into four and set aside the other 3 slices. You can use those for flavoring your kombucha tea or eat them fresh.
  2. Pour 4-5 tablespoons of brown sugar in to your brewing vessel. It could be a quarter jar or a glass pitcher. Stir the mixture until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Pour your pineapple, pineapples cores and peels in to your brewing vessel.
  4. Cover your brewing vessel with a piece of cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
  5. Leave your Tepache fermenting in a warm and dry place. Keep it away from sunlight. Let it ferment for 1-5 days. Do a taste test daily to achieve the taste you like. It gets fizzier and more sour as the day goes by. If you like the taste of it, strain it and pour it into bottles and leave them for a day or more if you want or serve it over ice right away.