Monday, January 28th, 2008


I started a new batch of kombucha last night. It's easy to make but some of the ingredients are hard to come by. This is all from the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, which I highly recommend.

"Kombucha is sweetened black tea, cultured with a 'mother,' also known as 'the tea beast,' a gelatinous colony of bacteria and yeast. The mother ferments the sweet tea and reproduces itself, like kefir grains."

"The trickiest part of making kombucha is finding a mother. Ask at local health food stores. On the Web, kombucha enthusiasts maintain a Worldwide Kombucha Exchange at, where mothers are widely available for just shipping costs. Kombucha mothers are also available from G.E.M. Cultures."

And here's the recipe:

TIMEFRAME: About 7 to 10 day

INGREDIENTS (for 1 quart/1 liter):
1 quart/1 liter water
1/4 cup/60 milliliters sugar
1 tablespoon/15 milliliters loose black tea or 2 teabags
1/2 cup/125 milliliters mature acidic kombucha
Kombucha mother

1. Mix water and sugar and bring to a boil in a small cooking pot.
2. Turn off the heat; add tea, cover and steep about 15 minutes.
3. Strain the tea into a glass container. It's best to use something wide; kombucha needs adequate surface area and works best if the diameter of the container is greater than the depth of the liquid. Allow the tea to cool to body temperature.
4. Add the mature acidic kombucha. When you obtain a culture, it will be stored in this liquid. Save a portion of subsequent batches for this purpose.
5. Place the kombucha mother in the liquid, with the firm, opaque side up.
6. Cover with a cloth and store in a warm spot, ideally 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 29 degrees Celsius).
7. After a few days to 1 week, depending on temperature, you will notice a skin forming on the surface of the kombucha. Taste the liquid. It will probably still be sweet. The longer it sits, the more acidic it will become.
8. Once it reaches the acidity you like, start a new batch and store your mature kombucha in the refrigerator. You now have two mothers, the original one you started with, and a new one, the skin that formed on your first batch. Use either the new or the old mother in your new batch, and pass the other one on to a friend (or the compost). Each generation will give birth to a new mother, and the old mother will thicken.


You can use white, green or black tea and I'm pretty sure a wide variety of sweeteners can be used in place of sugar--Mike and John used molasses for our first batch of kombucha.

Here's where the kombucha I started last night is fermenting:

And here's the mother Jen and Nick gave us last time they were here, which thickened and gave birth to a new mother (which I'm using) when we made our first batch:

It feels like a squid.
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