Friday, February 11, 2011




Boil a quart of water in a pot.   Boil for 10 minutes to remove the chlorine if your filter does not remove chlorine.  Add  1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar and mix until dissolved.  Add 2-3 tea bags (or 2-3 teaspoons loose tea) and allow to steep by cooling to room temp.  Remove bags or tea leaves.  Place kombucha and starter tea (your culture will arrive floating in the starter tea so do not discard that liquid) in a glass jar - plastic may leach into tea so only use glass.  Pour sweet tea you made into jar but leave about 1-2" room for tea to "breathe" while brewing. 

 Cover with the coffee filter or piece of paper towel and secure with rubber band (to keep fruit flies out).  Cheesecloth does NOT work well for this.  Place in pantry or on counter (just not in direct sun) and do not disturb! 

*Mixing or disturbing during brew may inhibit the baby from forming.  It will still brew but you will not see a complete baby, which is fine still.

Start tasting after 4-5 days (you can use a straw as to not to disturb it too much) and let it brew until your preferred taste. The longer you brew, the more acidic/vinegary it gets. 

It will take from 4-14 days on average for your brew to finish.  This largely depends on the temperature of your home.  In the warmer months it does not take as long and in the cooler months, longer.  Some prefer even longer brewing times.  Remove the mushroom and the baby mushroom (new mushroom) which may have attached itself to the first.  Bottle or drink.  Start all over again!

**You can store in fridge to slow further fermentation after the brew is done.  Even though the mushrooms are out, it will still continue to ferment slowly and develop dead yeast cell strings (see FAQ below).  So be aware of that.  It may need straining before you drink, every time.

** If you don’t have bottling equipment, just store already prepared k-tea in glass jars with tight mason jar lid (NOT in the fridge since you want it room temp to develop fizz), and after about 10 days it will be a lot more bubbly, it will fizz like beer when you pour it!  You'll see!  It is SOOOO much better that way.  Absolutely perfect, natural soda!  Bottle even longer, and you will get more fizz.  You must use an airtight jar such as a mason jar to get this effect.  We sell these separately in our store if you are interested.  Be sure and replace the seal every now and then.  The mason jar lids do lose their suction after many times of use.  We store ours out of the fridge and serve over ice, replacing the lid and in it goes back into the pantry until next serving!      

**Also, try adding chunks of fresh ginger or a vanilla bean cut in half during the brew (before bottling).  Those are our two favorite varieties of kombucha.  Very yummy! 

Experts recommend starting with 2-4 ounces per day. Listen to your body. Some people find this is enough, others drink several ounces per day.  We drink it by the glassful.  Please be advised that kombucha is a diuretic so if you are drinking it on a regular basis, be sure and be drinking plenty of water as well.

*We sell the perfect set of all plastic strainers in our store that are great for straining the spent yeast cells of your brew.  They have very fine mesh, and will get all the slime out of your k-tea, ready to drink.  You will see how helpful they can be!  They are essential for us!    They are $8.99 shipped FREE in the US!  We can send an invoice to you for them if you would like.

Why does my mushroom sometimes sink?
Differing factors (humidity, etc.) will make the culture either float or sink.  It makes no difference in the brew at all, except that the mother mushroom (the one you start with) with either sink, making it easier to see the newly formed baby on the top, or it will float and the baby will grow attached to the mother.   (I know -awwww……)   There is also no “right side up” to the mushroom.  A sinking mother mushroom does not indicate an unviable mushroom.  It is perfectly normal.

Why do holes form in my mushroom?
 Carbon dioxide buildup sometimes produces holes in the mushroom.  No need to worry at all.  In fact, when holes are produced you will see that the k-tea is much more fizzy.  The mushroom does not have to be complete and perfect looking  in order to use to make the tea because.  Holes forming in the mushroom actually indicate the presence of more C2O which means you will get more fizz. 

*The mushroom does not have to be perfect LOOKING to make a great brew.  There are many variations to how they can look.

A baby did not form with my brew.
A baby will ALWAYS form with every brew. Often it is not discernable though.  The reason for this is half the time the mother mushroom will float and the baby ALWAYS forms on TOP of the liquid so it will form as another layer on the mother mushroom. If your brew has fermented, it will have produced a baby if the brew has not been disturbed. If it forms as another layer on the mother, no need to separate them at all.     

I THINK I GREW MOLD! – Weird film and brown strings!
What most people are seeing is the new baby growing on top of the liquid.  It will start out as a thin transparent film on top then slowly grow thicker. 
Do not disturb the brew too much or else the baby mushroom will not form.  Mold will be fuzzy and grow on TOP of the newly formed baby.  You will KNOW it is mold.  It will be dry and green.
 Dead yeast cell strings attach to the mushroom during brew, and this will look like dark brown or gray slime.  It can even have a tint of green. This will form attached to the mother as well as the baby.  We remove most of this before shipping, so know that it is totally normal.  Sometimes the slime will grow between the baby and mother if they are attached.  Again, mold will be fuzzy and will grow on TOP of the new mushroom.

What are these brown things floating in the tea?  Ew.   
Harmless dead yeast cells mentioned above, which are produced as the tea brews.  You can strain them out if desired.  We strain some out but they are also full of B vitamins, so we don’t bother with the small ones. 

Can I use something besides sugar?
White sugar produces the healthiest tea, believe it or not.  This includes non-organic bleached, unbleached organic (which is what we use), Sucanat, evaporated cane juice, etc.  Sugar, basically, either in its refined or unrefined state.  The yeast eats up most of the sugar, and the longer you brew the less sugar left over in the end.  So although we do not use refined  sugar in anything else, for this reason we are not concerned about the sugar content. 
Honey could cripple the key bacteria in the culture so we would not advise that.  Others have had success with maple syrup and agave nectar, although we have not experimented with that.  But we have heard positive feedback regarding it. 

What kinds of tea can I use?
Pretty much any tea that does not contain oils.  You need to check the label because there is even a Celestial Seasonings green tea that looks plain on the package but then the ingredients list “oil of“ something.  Look for that key phrase.   That will cause mold. Earl Grey tea has Oil of Bergamot, so steer clear of that.  We have over 25 varieties of loose teas in our store if you are interested. They are all organic and most are great for making kombucha tea.
You can experiment with a wide variety of teas.  For herbal teas such as Roobois, you want to still at least use one-fourth regular tea in combination, as the brew requires the acidity of regular tea.

What are your favorite teas to make kombucha with?
Glad you asked!  We get this question a lot so we wanted to add it to this document.  Our favorites are Green Chai, Almond Blossom Oolong, and a Honeybush or Rooibos blend with a black tea such as Assam. 

Do you have a gallon –size mushroom for sale?  How can I make a gallon at a time?
The size of the mushroom does not matter in regards to the amount you want to brew.  You still only need one mushroom – if you want to make a larger amount just brew the quart for the first time and then use most of that as the starter for the gallon brew, and use about the same proportions of starter/sweet tea in the recipe above.
How do I store my extra mushrooms?
You can store them in some k-tea in a glass container with a tight lid in the fridge, and for longer storage a combo of k-tea and sweet tea.  Just so they have something to feed on.  They will last a mighty long time.  Do NOT freeze them.  That could kill the culture.   If you have extras, they are great in the compost pile.  It is also nice to just replace the yucky looking ones from time to time. 
Whew – this is some strong stuff!
The great thing about this tea is that you can keep experimenting.  The longer you brew the more acidic/tart it becomes.  Harvest times and sugar amounts and even different kinds of tea can be tweaked to suite your palate.   It is not an exact science in the least.  If the taste is too strong you can also mix it with juice or regular tea after you brew.  Or just harvest at a different time for the next brew.   We have noticed that green tea makes a sweeter k-tea.

I can’t get the mother and baby separated.
Don’t worry about traumatizing them – if they are stuck together, you do not have to rip them apart neatly.  Again, mushrooms with holes or torn mushroom will produce just as tasty of a tea.                               

I am not seeing any fizz
The fizz factor reveals itself when you POUR the brew into a glass.  And you get more fizz after bottling for a few days in an airtight container such as a mason jar.   Also, green tea tends to create a brew that produces more fizz.  You will not see the fizz WHILE it is brewing.

For how long is the mushroom viable?
We have used ones for many months and have never had one become less viable.   We are constantly producing new babies, so we just replace the “old” looking ones with new babies.  You can also use them in your compost pile.  J 


Replacement Policy:  We will replace any culture that has not proved viable upon receipt to make a successful first culturing per our instructions.  If a first batch is successful, this is indication of a viable culture.    We are here to help troubleshoot during your culturing if you have any concerns so please email us BEFORE discarding any cultures, as we cannot replace a culture that we have not been able to determine viability through troubleshooting with you.   Again, email WHILE you are culturing, as 99% of the time we are able to help with a successful batch, if the cultures are still on hand.  Discarding the culture before contacting us for help will nullify the exchange/refund policy.  Thanks so much.

It is a pleasure doing business with you.
~The Wells Family~
Nick’s Natural Nook