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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 by starter is strong.
  3. Use more starter tea: If you are not sure if the starter tea you got is not sure, 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 love 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.

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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 to start brewing kombucha tea now!

Note: All photos not mine. Credits to owners.

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Facts About Kombucha You Need to Know

facts about kombucha

Kombucha, although relatively new in the Philippines, has been taking American store shelves by storm for a few years now. It’s one of the trendiest beverages in the market. Thanks to celebrities like Joe Rogan, who constantly posts about his love for Kombucha and Shailene Woodley, who makes her own booch and other people who swear by the benefits they got from drinking this fermented concoction. But, what the heck really is Kombucha Tea?

What is Kombucha tea?

Kombucha Tea is a beverage made through mixing tea, sugar, water and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). The SCOBY is the culture that is responsible in fermenting the tea. The yeast in the SCOBY is responsible for converting the sugar to alcohol while bacteria converts alcohol into acetic acid that results to the sour taste of kombucha tea.

Photo credit: Chipotle Potato
Photo credit: Chipotle Potato

The Origin of Kombucha Tea

The origin of Kombucha tea is not clear. But it has been associated with Germany, Japan, China and Russia and Eastern Europe. The most famous story of origin of Kombucha is that it came from Japan. Hence the name that was derived from Japanese words “kombu” and “cha” meaning tea. But the first recorded usage of Kombucha is in China during the Tsin Dynasty. They called it then as the “Tea of Immortality”.  In the French part of Switzerland, it is called Mo-gu.

How Kombucha tea is made

Kombucha tea is made by mixing tea, sugar, water, kombucha starter tea and kombucha SCOBY. The concoction is left to ferment in a warm and dry place for a few days. When it starts to smell and taste vinegary, it is ready for consumption. Kombucha tea can be enjoyed either plain or with flavor. Flavors usually used as fruits, spices like cinnamon and superfoods like chia seeds.

Kombucha tea is Alcoholic

fizzy kombucha tea
Photo Credit: Allyson Kramer

If you have been reading about Kombucha, you would know that Lindsay Lohan made it (more) famous after she said it’s the reason why her alcohol-monitoring bracelet set-off. Lohan claimed she has been drinking Kombucha, which contains alcohol. Kombucha has alcohol. However, the level of alcohol is small. The level is also different in each home brew. Many factors affect how the yeast turns the sugar to alcohol. The alcohol levels in homebrewed kombucha is usually in between .5% to 3%. Also take note that the longer you leave Kombucha fermenting, the more alcoholic it will become.

Kombucha is Caffeinated

One misconceptions about Kombucha is that its caffeine level reduces by the end of the fermentation cycle. The truth is, caffeine in Kombucha still remains in the same level from day 1 to the end of the brewing period. This is according to Michael Roussin, author of “Analyses of Kombucha Ferments“. If you can’t consume caffeinated drinks, use a decaffeinated tea.

Kombucha contains Sugar

a glass of kombucha
Photo Credit: Flora Foodie

Contrary to claims of other people that Kombucha is sugar-free, Kombucha contains sugar. The yeast in Kombucha doesn’t consume the sugar and make it magically disappear. Michael Roussin, a kombucha lover wrote this after testing 1103 samples of Kombucha from North America, Europe and other parts of the world. Roussin, however said, the sugar content in Kombucha depends on how long you let it ferment. A 3-day brew is going to have more sugar content than a 30-day brew. If you want as little sugar as possible, let your Kombucha ferment longer.

Kombucha cannot cure everything

Many people come to me and ask if Kombucha can help them with their condition. I always say Kombucha can help with our health but I don’t say it can help in curing certain conditions. Because firstly, I am not a medical professional to say so. Secondly, I have not researched and tested thousands of kombucha tea. Lastly, it just isn’t possible. Kombucha cannot cure anything and everything. What Kombucha may do is help in bringing your body back to its balance by influencing your gastrointestinal microbial flora through its antibiotic activity. The Glucuronic acid, which can be found in substantial quantities of Kombucha, aids in detoxification. That is why people with high blood pressure, rheumatism, gout, furuncolosis, and nervousness are recommended to use Kombucha as a therapy (Frank, 1991).

Kombucha is not dangerous and did not cause the death of a woman in Iowa

When people ask me about the safety of Kombucha, they always talk about that Kombucha has not been tested enough for people to claim that it is healthy and safe to consume. They also usually follow it with the death of a woman in Iowa, who brews and drinks Kombucha. Reports about this case say that the severe unexplained illness of two women in Iowa where one of them died, is associated with Kombucha consumption. The two women brew Kombucha at home using cultures that came from the same mother. This led the Iowa Department of Public Health to warn people to stop consuming Kombucha until their evaluation of the case is not yet done. According to Sandor Ellix Katz, they were not able to explain the association of Kombucha drinking to the unexpected death and illness of the two women. Furthermore, 115 other people who consumed Kombucha from the same mother said they never had problems. No toxic and human pathogens were also found when the SCOBY and the kombucha tea consumed by the said women were tested.

These are just some facts about Kombucha. Without a doubt, there is still so much to learn about this fermented beverage. But, I hope that will not stop you from stepping in to the world of kombucha homebrewing. Try it for yourself and let me know how it affected you in any way.

Do you have a question about Kombucha that you’d like to find answer to? Leave it in the comments and I’ll answer it for you.

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How to Make Kombucha Tea Fizzy?

 

jannah kombucha tea
Jannah drinking her homemade and fizzy kombucha tea

I don’t know about you, but one thing that convinced me to drink Kombucha is its fizzy factor. The fizzy-factor makes me think about a celebration or like opening a bottle of champagne and shouting “woooo!!!”. Also, the fizziness of kombucha tea makes it look like a super refreshing drink that can quench even the thirst of a camel that has been traveling the Sahara desert for months. It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but hearing “ssssssssssss” upon cracking up a bottle of kombucha is really amazing and you wouldn’t experience this if your kombucha is flat. So how do you make a fizzy kombucha tea?

Urban_Plates_Kombucha_on_Tap_r620x349

Photo credit: Chipotle Potato
Photo credit: Chipotle Potato

There are many factors that affect the fizziness of Kombucha. It includes the sugar content and the temperature. To make your kombucha tea fizzy, I’m going to tell you the procedures that I personally do and I can prove to be effective.

  1. Don’t let the water to boil completely. Add the tea when the water is still simmering and don’t stir!
  2. Adding extra sugar during second fermentation
  3. Adding fruit preserves or jams
  4. Adding raisins
  5. Adding chopped ginger
  6. Use good glass bottles that don’t break easily and have caps that are tight.
Mango Kombucha Tea
Mango Kombucha Tea
Blackberry Kombucha tea
Blackberry Kombucha

Do you have other ways to make Kombucha tea fizzy? If so, please share your techniques with me.