Mistakes I’ve Made Brewing Kombucha and the Method that Works for Me

Homemade Kombucha Lessons Learned

Homemade kombucha is surprisingly easy to make. I’ve been brewing it pretty consistently for over 2 years now. But there are some rookie mistakes that can cause you to ruin the whole batch, and worse, your entire scoby. Believe me, I know, because I’ve made them.

In light of that, I’d like to share two of the worst mistakes I’ve made – and hopefully keep you from making them too!

Mind the temperature

Kombucha brews best between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. That might seem like no problem in a home where a comfortable temperature is maintained. But you need to be careful where you leave the container during brewing.

My mistake: Leaving my kombucha to brew in the basement, where it was much colder than I thought. Guess what happens when your scoby gets too cold? It grows mold and you have to toss the whole kit-and-caboodle. If you want to learn more and see some gross pictures, Kombucha Kamp has a whole page about moldy scobys. In general, warmer temperatures will speed up the brewing process, but if it gets too warm, the scoby may be damaged.  During the winter months, some people use a heating pad to maintain a consistent temperature. Also, never leave your brewing vessel in direct sunlight, as it may interfere with the brewing process.

The fix: I now set my brewing container on a top shelf in a closet – where I know the temperature is consistent and there is no direct sun shining on it.

Kombucha coverBeware fruit flies

Fruit flies LOVE kombucha because of its sweet, vinegary flavor. In fact, kombucha makes a great fruit fly trap if you have a fruit fly problem in your home.

My mistake: Using cheesecloth as a cover for my kombucha. Turns out that the holes in cheesecloth are small enough for fruit flies to enter. Unfortunately, cheesecloth is mentioned in many kombucha tutorials and even my very popular kombucha post includes a photo with a cheesecloth cover. I learned this lesson the hard way this past summer, when I discovered a major fruit fly infestation in my scoby. It wasn’t just a few fruit flies, it was TONS, because they were breeding in there. Grossest thing ever – you don’t even need to see pictures. Needless to say, the entire mess had to be tossed and I had to buy a new scoby and start over.

The fix: I now use a breathable, cotton napkin to cover my kombucha container.  You can also buy covers from Kombucha Kamp if you prefer.

My method for making kombucha

You’ll find plenty of recipes for kombucha out there, but here’s the method that works for me:

  • Boil 15 cups water (that’s 1 cup less than 1 gallon)
  • Turn heat off and add 6 black tea bags and 1 cup of sugar (organic preferred)
  • Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove tea bags and let liquid come to room temperature
  • Pour liquid into 1 gallon container
  • Add SCOBY and 1 cup of finished kombucha
  • Cover with a breathable, cloth cover
  • Let ferment for 1 to 3 weeks (I usually taste it after 2 weeks but tend to prefer it after 3 weeks)
  • Do a secondary fermentation in bottles to increase carbonation
  • Add dried or pureed fruit to bottles for flavor (we love dried cranberries, fresh or crystallized ginger, pureed mango – but the options are endless!)

Do you make kombucha? What method works best for you?

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(Note: There are a couple of affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase through a link, I may receive a small commission (at no extra charge to you). Thank you for supporting Mindful Momma!)

About Micaela

Micaela Preston is a marketing and communications consultant specializing in natural, organic and eco-friendly products and the health and wellness space. Micaela is available as a social media manager, green lifestyle writer, public speaker, brand ambassador and marketing manager.

Comments

  1. I have never heard of kombucha before. I learn new things every day.

  2. Kristie says:

    If I am making both kombucha and kefir, do I need to keep them separate? Will they cross contaminate each other?

    • Good question Kristie! I’ve heard that they do interfere with each other so we always keep them separate if we have both going at the same time.

  3. When you do the secondary fermentation to increase carbonation, are the bottles still left out at room temperature? Do you then refrigerate the bottles when you’re happy with the level of carbonation and ready to drink? Thanks.

    • Hi Lorna – Yes, I do the secondary fermentation at room temperature for at least 2-3 days. Just remember to “burp” them once a day to keep the gas from building up too much. You don’t want an explosion!

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  1. […] Fermented Beverage Smackdown – Kombucha vs. Kefir (also see my more recent post for mistakes I’ve learned making kombucha) […]

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