This article will show the reader some insight into the kombucha culture. If you have walked into any whole foods store within the past 6 months you will find a fizzy, yummy (though to admit this can be subjective), beneficial beverage called kombucha tea. What most people might not know is exactly where this tea comes from. After reading this article you will gain a better understanding about the origins and process of kombucha.
Kombucha, unlike other types of teas is more of a process than a type. This process is achieved by fermenting tea using a kombucha culture.
“What is a kombucha culture”, one might ask. I asked the same thing to when I began using cultures to brew my kombucha tea several years ago. In simplest definition a kombucha culture can be referred to as a SCOBY, which is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Yeast and Bacteria.
So a Kombucha culture is the mixed combination of bacteria and yeast, which, when fermented, with a food source (usually tea and sugar) regenerates itself and grows to form a solid rubbery substance.
Very similar to people making their own sour dough bread or wine – you need some sort of yeast starter to kick off the process. You can find several kombucha recipes online and many of them will vary but the majority will agree that you should use a kombucha culture to always brew your tea.
Also, it is interesting to point out that though the concept of brewing your own kombucha tea at home using the kombucha culture is fairly new and almost novel, millions of people have been making kombucha tea at home for at least a thousand years. Primarily Australia, China and Russia have been known to home brew kombucha and have several kombucha cultures in their homes, passing them on from one generation to the next.
If you do decide to make this kombucha tea at home there are a few precautions. Always make sure that your brewing environment is nice and sterile, your equipment is clean, and of course your kombucha culture is from a reliable source and free from mold before you begin. Like I said before a Kombucha culture is a necessary ingredient to home brew your tea (though people have tried to make kombucha tea without using a culture, it is highly not recommended… I will write another article going into detail as to why this is not recommended but for now, please do yourself a favor and obtain a kombucha culture.
The most questions we get regarding the kombucha culture is concerning telling a good one from bad one and that brings us to our next topic on kombucha mold. Though concerns about mold on the kombucha culture at first are tricky to a novice brewer, eventually it should easy to identify once you know what to look for.
Basically the if YOUR KOMBUCHA CULTURE LOOKS LIKE MOLD FOUND ON BREAD IT IS BAD. This type of mold resembles a fuzzy sometimes white, green or gray appearance.
However, if your kombucha culture has brown spots or is translucent in some places it is still a viable and healthy culture that should produce several fresh batches of kombucha tea for weeks and months to come.
There are some names regarding the kombucha cultures age. Primarily a kombucha mother and a kombucha baby. The kombucha mother is defined as the initial kombucha culture as that was used for your brewing, while the kombucha baby is what forms on top of the kombucha mother and can be separated.
Please keep in mind that a kombucha baby will not always be produced in the way that we would refer to it as a separate culture. This is because sometimes the extra culture simply grows on top of the existing kombucha culture. This is perfectly fine, the kombucha culture will just get thicker rather than producing an entirely separate layer, however when you begin brewing you might think you did not brew correctly since you do not see this second culture.
So just keep in mind that an additional culture (or kombucha baby), should not be the bench mark to whether or not you successfully brewed.
It just means that for whatever reason (liquid density, where the kombucha culture was positioned, the presence of air bubbles, etc) the second kombucha culture decided to grow on top of the existing culture and just became thicker.
This brings us to another good point that people ask regarding whether or not the kombucha culture has to float or rise to the top to be successful and healthy. The answer to this is that the kombucha culture can either float to the top or sink to the bottom and will not affect the success of fermenting your kombucha tea.
The only difference will be that if your kombucha culture sinks way down in your brewing container, most likely you will see a new kombucha culture begin to produce on top.
At first this new kombucha culture will look almost like cellophane. Meaning it will look very transparent and film like. This is a good thing and you want to make sure that this new kombucha culture does not get disturbed until it has safely formed and resembles the original kombucha culture. This usually takes between 8 to 15 days dependent on several factors such as temperature and tea source.
This article was designed to shed some light on the kombucha culture, the real hero behind al those kombucha tea drinks found in the health stores. In future articles we will discuss how to obtain or buy a kombucha culture as well as how to begin and continue brewing kombucha tea using the kombucha culture.