Offhand Kombucha Instruction Sheet

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Kombucha Ingredients, completely alterable to preference
   1 SCOBY
   6 c water (2 c simmering, 4 c chilled)
   1 c granulated sugar
   3 bags black tea
   1/2 to 1 c starter

Instructions on what to do with the ingredients
  ① Chill 4 c of the water.
  ② Bring 2 c of the water to a simmer in a pot.
  ③ Add all of the tea to the simmering water. Steep for 10 minutes.
  ④ Wring out the teabags, and remove them from the simmering water.
  ⑤ Add all of the granulated sugar to the simmering water. Stir until it is dissolved. Do not simmer for too long or at too high a temperature, or else the sugar may caramelise.
  ⑥ Pour the pot of simmering sweet tea into the chilled water. This spares you from having to wait for 6 c of simmering tea to cool down.
  ⑦ Pour the sweet tea into a sterile wide-mouthed jar. Kombucha likes breathing room on the surface, so a high width-to-height ratio is preferred.
  ⑧ Make sure that the sweet tea is not too hot: it should be no warmer than blood temperature, nor above 90∘F. Once cooled, add all of you starter and the SCOBY to the sweet tea.
  ⑨ Cover the jar with tight-woven fabric (such as muslin) or paper towels. This will keep out fruit flies and other intruders. Secure this with a rubber band or hair tie. Do not secure it with a lid, because it will collect condensation and host bacteria. Additionally, an airtight seal may cause the jar to explode.
  ⑩ Note the date. You will want to keep track of for how long your Kombucha has been fermenting.
  ⑪ Wait 5-14 days, depending on the temperature, atmospheric conditions, and gastronomic preference. 79∘F is ideal: at this temperature, 8 days is the average brew time. Try not to disturb the Kombucha during this time, nor expose it to direct sunlight, nor any other ultraviolent light sources.
  ⑫ Check the SCOBY after a few days. A general indicator of the brew's status is the baby SCOBY: once a baby SCOBY has formed at the top, is nearly opaque whitish beige in colour, and is about ⅙" thick, you may perform the long-anticipated taste test. Without disturbing the culture too much, sip the Kombucha with a straw. As it may have settled somewhat, so try to sample the bottom of the brew.
  ⑬ If it has been declared desirably fermented, strain the Kombucha through a sieve, bottle, and refrigerate.

Optional Steps pertaining to anaerobic fermentation
  ⑭ When you bottle the kombucha, fill the bottle as much as you can (leaving little breathing room) and cap it with a balloon or airlock. Let it sit unrefrigerated. During this stage of anaerobic fermentation, the sugar content will be reduced without increasing acidity, resulting in a drier Kombucha. The Kombucha will create CO2 during this stage, which will inflate the balloon (or be indicated by the airlock).
  ⑮ This stage can be drawn out for as long as desired, so long as your balloon doesn't pop. 1 week is a sufficient period for anaerobic fermentation.

Other Notes
  ☞ Give SCOBYs and starter Kombucha to your friends, along with instruction. Feel free to photocopy this guide.
  ☞ Brewing will slow (and eventually halt) if your Kombucha is too cold. You can refrigerate Kombucha if you are away on vacation, and it will not ferment.
  ☞ Brew for longer to make a highly acidic Kombucha Vinegar, or add Champagne Yeast to make Kombucha Wine.

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SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), mother, baby, or mushroom
   This fleshy, beige, magical membrane converts sweet tea into Kombucha (and given enough time, Kombucha vinegar). SCOBYs reproduce asexually, forming a new baby SCOBY on the surface with each successive brew. If a momma SCOBY is floating on the surface of the Kombucha, then the SCOBY baby will form on the surface of the SCOBY mother. They can usually be gently peeled apart. SCOBYs may float or sink.
   Bubbles may form in your SCOBY. This is normal, as the yeast generates CO2 as a byproduct of fermentation.
   Newly-formed SCOBY membrane is light in colour; as the yeast cells die, they turn brown and flake off. These dead flakes are a good source of nutrition for the Kombucha, and can be transferred from one brew to the next.
   If necessary, you can slice and divide SCOBYs any way you like without hurting them.

   Most North American tap water is suitable, though you may opt to use filtered water.

   The sugar is for the Kombucha to eat, not you. Granulated sugar is fine, as is raw sugar, tubinado sugar, &c. You may substitute the sugar by measuring out an equivalent portion of agave, any syrup, malt, or a fruit juice with high sugar content. Do not use citrus fruit juice; it is not well liked by the SCOBY.
   Honey (especially raw honey) is a probiotic, and may result in a longer and more unpredictable brew.

   Like all ingredients, the quality of the tea will match the quality of your Kombucha. That said, tea is usually the most expensive ingredient in Kombucha, especially when brewing in bulk. You can buy 100 ct boxes of black tea bags for as low as $1.99 in chain supermarkets, which will suit most brews just fine.
   If you are to use herbal teas, note that caffeine stimulates the Kombucha brewing process, and thus the duration of the brew will be lengthened without the presence of caffeine.
   Some teas with added oils will not brew well. Do not use Earl Grey tea, as it contains citrus bergamot oil.

   Starter gives the Kombucha a headstart in the brewing process. Starter refers to any 'established' Kombucha tea. The more acidic the starter, the less you will need to use. You may opt at some point to keep a continuously fermenting batch of Kombucha vinegar, to use as a dedicated starter.
   If you do not have a starter, or do not want to sacrifice any of your precious kombucha tea, you can substitute 1/2 c starter with 2 tbsp Braggs unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Sterility notes to protect you and your Kombucha
   Throw out or compost moldy Kombucha as soon as you can confirm that it is actually moldy (sometimes dead yeast cells can take on the faux appearance of mold). Mold is brown and green, and often fuzzy. Kombucha is most susceptible to mold during the first few days of fermentation, before it has had time to establish an acidic environment to ward off unwanted bacteria. More acidic starter helps prevent mold.
   Wash your hands before preparing Kombucha. Do not use dirty utensils or containers in preparation. Do not smoke, spraypaint, or create any other strong air pollution near fermenting Kombucha.

   First Revision of the Offhand Kombucha Instruction Sheet
   Send any questions, comments, or suggestions pertaining to this guide to Shel at
   Distributed by the Let's Get Together and Do Cool Things Community Workshop Association, under the authorisation of Laura&Co.