Showing posts from 2015

The Other Scoby - Jun

Jun Scoby looks like Kombucha Scoby and even brews like Kombucha but its not Kombucha Scoby!!
There is one marked difference though. Jun Scoby feeds exclusively on Honey! I managed to get a Jun Scoby shipped all the way from US via the Happy Herbalist. Did the brewing with green tea but the final brew turned out to be quite disappointing; no bubbles, no new layer of Scoby and the drink was flat.
In short, I failed. It turned out that the honey that I was using was not pure enough (bought from Giant hypermart). By the time I used real organic Acasia honey it was too late, the Scoby had failed to function.  Disappointed, an idea cropped into my head.  Why don’t I try to train my kombucha Scoby to “feed” on honey?
Off I went to brew with the same procedure, replacing sugar with honey with kombucha Scoby.  Fast forward two weeks into the future all I got was another failed brew, proving once and for all that kombucha Scoby and honey does not mix.
After that incident I stopped brewing Ju…

The Difference Between Kombucha Brewing in Tropical vs Temperate Country

I had a chat with a fellow brewer Erin who regularly brews in Canada and currently relocated to Malaysia. Based on that conversation there were certainly several differences in the brewing process.
Shorter Brewing Duration Malaysia being a tropical country is always hot and humid 24-7. Thus the brewing duration to complete a kombucha brew is only 10-14 days compared to 18-24 days in a temperate country.
Thinner baby Kombucha Scoby As the time needed to brew is way shorter compared to temperate countries, the baby Scoby that are formed are also notable thinner.To make the baby Scoby thicker you might need to lengthen the brewing process but you might end up with a more vinegarish brew.

Higher risk for mold growth The risk of mold infestation on kombucha Scoby is very high here in Malaysia. The high humidity and temperature is a potent mix to encourage growth of mold if proper steps are not taken during the brewing process.According to Erin, the threat of mold is almost non-Existent in Canad…

10 Kombucha Questions Answered!

No 1: Is SCOBY and Kombucha the same thing?
Scoby and Kombucha are not the same thing. Scoby is an acronym for a symibiotic culture of yeast and bacteria.It is the interaction of the bacteria and yeast  with sugar tea via the fermentation process that creates the end product which is kombucha. A simplified relationship for kombucha and Scoby is as follows;  Kombucha Scoby + Sugar Tea = Kombucha

No 2: How much kombucha should I drink daily?
For starters it is best to start at around 50ml.  This is to get your body to get used to the introduction of good bacteria into the body. From there on you can gradually increase the intake.

No 3: How long can I keep a brewed kombucha?
In room temperature I usually keep my brew for around 2 weeks.  If kept in the fridge I will stretch the duration up to 4 weeks. Kombucha has lots of good bacteria. If you keep it way too long the number of bacteria will start to reduce thus reducing the health impact of the drink.

No 4: Can I keep Kombucha Scoby in the…

Mummy Scoby Part 2

7 days later I went back to the brew that was produced by the dehydrated Scoby.
Below is the result.

Unfortunately the re-hydration process did not work out as planned and the result was a very thin Scoby infected with mold. For the time being, I will have to go back to the drawing board and maybe shorten the dehydration process and rehydration and perhaps achieve a better result.
If all else fails, well, I can start to knit the dried Scobies and well use it as a table cloth. :) 

5 Common Mistakes of Novice Brewers

Mistake No 1: Washing the Mother Scoby
Novice brewers always come to me and ask, should I wash the mother Scoby? It smells and there are lots of gooey matter on the Scoby.
Simple answer, No; you don’t have to wash the Scoby.  In fact the brown gooey matters are perfectly harmless dead yeast.  Also, washing will remove the yeast on the Scoby and might even stress out the Scoby due to exposure to contaminants in pipe water such as chlorine.
Dont wash your mother Scoby
Mistake No 2: Sealing the container tightly shut/ Brewing in an airtight container
It is important to seal the container during the brewing process but it has to be loosely sealed with bands and also breathable to allow a smooth fermentation process.

During the fermentation process, it is vital for the circulation of air in and out from the brewing vessel.Sealing the brewing container shut will halt the fermentation process due to the excess carbon dioxide and the lack of oxygen.
Dont seal the container tightly shut

Mistake n…

Mummy Scoby -- Part 1

I am always perplexed on what will happen when the process of dehydration happens to a kombucha Scoby.  In short I tried to mummify a Scoby and see whether it can come back to life.
So I went ahead and  I dried a fresh healthy kombucha Scoby in a food dehydrator for 9 days. 
To get a clearer picture I compared a fresh Scoby side by side with a dried Scoby. The one on my i right is a fresh Scoby while the one on my left is a dried kombucha Scoby.

A closer look at the two kombucha Scoby
Dried Kombucha Scoby
(Side Note: One interesting literature I read about kombucha stated that there were attempts to actually use dried kombucha Scoby as an alternative to fabric. Imagine wearing a tshirt made from Scoby!)
Fresh Kombucha Scoby 
Next, I created a fresh batch of sugar tea and inserted the dry Scoby and left it to brew for 7 days. The results? I will share it in my next post. 

Interview with a fellow Kombucha Enthusiast

2 weeks ago I had the chance to interview Mr Jamil at Mcdonalds Kota Damansara. He is a keen enthusiast for kombucha and had been consuming this drink since the year 2000.

Me:           How did you get to know about kombucha?
Mr Jamil: It was back in 2000. My wife was diagnosed with cancer at 3 areas. The doctor did not give her much chance for recovery and recommended chemotherapy. I decided against chemotherapy after reading about the stress and how it affects the body. 
Me:           So what did you do next?
Jamil:       I decided to send her for traditional therapy. It is there that I learned about kombucha       because the healer incorporated kombucha as part of the healing regime. Fast forward 2 years in the future, a follow up to the doctor revealed that the cancer is now under control. I am not saying kombucha is the cure, but it was a part of the traditional therapy. Seeing how it helped my wife, I also started to consume kombucha.
Me:           How much did you drink?

Surprising Use for Kombucha

A few days ago I managed to gather some over brewed kombucha. It is more vinegarish with most of the sugar gone.
So I decided to carry out a simple experiment by placing some grapes I had just bought from the supermarket in the kombucha and left it there for an hour. An hour later I was pretty surprised to see that most of the whitish coat is now easily washable thanks to the kombucha brew.


Tea Does Matter!

When I was a newbie in brewing; I never knew that the type of tea matters for brewing. For me as long as tea is introduced into the brew, you will get a good brew and a baby SCOBY.
I was proven so wrong when my uncle tasked me to brew with Rooibos tea.
My first batch with Rooibos was barely a success. The brew is can still be passed as kombucha but the baby SCOBY is remarkably thin and looks weak.

When I swapped it with regular black Tea (Boh) the next brew was strong, bold in flavor and the baby SCOBY was thick and strong. Since then, I have tested with green tea, jasmine and even chrysanthemum. Results are recorded in the table below. 
For beginners, its best to start of brewing with black tea; once you have several Scobies at hand, then you can start experimenting with the batches.

My next kombucha brew? Lo Han Kuo kombucha.
Type of Tea
Strength of Brew Scoby Development Black Tea Bold and strong Very thick
Green Tea Mild tasting
Light in colour but thick
Rooibos Tea Mild tasting

Adding Natural Flavours to Kombucha - Secondary Fermentation

For the uninitiated, taking pure kombucha can be a daunting task.  The strong taste coupled with the burning sensation on the throat can be a deterrent to enjoy this wonderful drink.
This is where secondary fermentation comes into the picture. Secondary fermentation allows flavors to be added into kombucha whilst maintaining the full benefits of the brew.
To carry out secondary fermentation, first you will need to get a glass bottle with a strong cap. The most readily available bottle I can think of is the one found in Ikea. If I am not mistaken it is called Korken.

Upon the completion of the initial brew, remove the SCOBY and fill up 60% the first batch of kombucha into the glass bottle.
Now it gets more interesting. Depending on the type of flavor you desire, fill up the remaining 30% of the bottle with fruit juices. You can infuse herbs into the brew at this point of time. My favourite recipe is a mix of pure apple juice with a few leaf of mint. 
Cork the bottle and keep it in a cool a…

Enemies of SCOBY

There are 2 well-known common enemies of SCOBY; 
2.Fruit flies
Both are equally harmful to any brew. Once a SCOBY had been infested with either one, it is best to dispose of the affected batch.
On a macro level, fruit flies are the most harmful to any kombucha brew. Fruit flies usually enter when the cover to your brewing case is not secured properly. Attracted by the fermented brew, fruit flies will usually lay their eggs on the culture itself and within a day or two you can see its larvae crawling on the SCOBY. It is not a pretty sight.

To prevent this it is vital that the cloth covering the top of your brewing container has no holes/gaps and the sides are secured with strong bands allowing no gaps whatsoever for the adult fruit flies to enter the brew.
On a micro level another equally harmful enemy to any SCOBY is the development of mold. There are many reasons why mold can develop.
a.The Mother SCOBY is already old .
b.Air ventilation at the brewing area is poor.
c.Brewing container…

The "Bible" for Kombucha Brewers

When I started to venture into kombucha brewing; it took me a while to find an ultimate guide book. There was none in the bookshelf of major bookstores and when I surfed online I could not find a concise one-stop guide on kombucha.
I finally found what I was looking for in a library. The book is titled, “Kombucha the Miracle Fungus, the essential handbook”.
Harald  who is a medical herbalist by profession , wrote this book back in 1994. It has everything you will ever need to know about kombucha from the origins, brewing methods and explanations on the health claims on kombucha.
I highly recommend serious brewers to read this book.

Virgin SCOBYs

There are Mother Scobys and there are virgin Scobys. What is the difference you ask?

Mother Scobys are scobys that had been used at least once to brew kombucha while virgin Scobys are well, virgin in terms of kombucha brewing.

Virgin Scoby will form when u brew kombucha using a Mother Scoby. It is the thin layer that slowly thickens until it forms a perfectly fresh layer of Scoby on top of the brew.

The importance of virgin Scoby cannot be understated. Like every other living things, Scoby do age. After the sixth or seventh brew of with a Mother Scoby, the batch of kombucha made will start to taste flat. That means it is time to retire the Mother Scoby and start to brew using virgin scobies instead. 

What does one do with a retired scoby? I usually return it to the soil in my garden. Some even feed their pets with retired Scobies. 

So do remember to store your virgin Scobies as back up for each and every brew.

Kombucha the miracle cure for diabetes and eczema??

I get this question a lot when I meet people who are embarking on their first experience to brew kombucha.
Does kombucha cure diabetes? Kombucha is fermented tea. Through the process of fermentation, most of the sugar in the tea will be converted into organic acid. However, there is still some amount of sugar in kombucha.
There is a line of thought suggesting that  over-brewed kombucha with very low sugar level might assist in diabetes due to the fact that the good bacterias in kombucha will help diabetes patient digest excessive sugar. In my humble opinion this is rather a weak argument and it is definitely best to consult a physician if a diabetes patient wants to consume kombucha.

What about eczema?
A mother approached me about the topic of eczema and kombucha and how she plans to brew kombucha to cure eczema for his child. It got me all interested on that topic. My first finding was a published article by the University of Maryland; the findings are rather on the fence;

The full articl…