Please note: Although I no longer sell Kombucha cultures, I am still posting these instructions and a couple of links to sources. I urge everyone to join the fight against Codex Alimentarius, which would reclassify all your food supplements as “drugs”, including, I assume, Iodoral. Then you would have to get a prescription from a doctor and pay an inflated price for a very controlled dosage, which will mostly be too low to do you any real good. Thanks for helping.
According to Guenther Frank’s book on Kombucha, it is a symbiotic combination of a bacterium and a yeast (SCOBY). Symbiotic means that each one gains something from the association. From this culture we make a terrific drink, simple to make, and loaded with enzymes, which we all need for good health.
Note added 10-30-05 My astute customer JoAnne, referred to further on, noted to me in a letter that she’s a firm believer in hyaluronic acid, both ingesting it and applying it to the skin, adding that it’s found in Kombucha! As a former aesthetician I knew a little about HA, that it helps connective tissues and especially the collagen in the skin to stay moist and youthful. But I had not known it was found in Kombucha! (Nor that it seems to assist things like the Mitral Valve of the heart. More information on what HA does.)
Here is a very interesting article on Kombucha, mentioning the glucuronic acid (a component of hyaluronic acid) content.
There are many versions of the instructions. Here’s mine:
Start with everything very clean!! Please don’t use any aluminum pots or utensils for Kombucha. I use a big stainless steel spaghetti pot and make 2 gallons of tea at a time with a large 1-ounce restaurant sized tea bag PER GALLON and 3 cups of sugar per pot which is enough for 3 gallon jars of “K-T”. Note: lately I’ve noticed the sugar seems to be less sweet. How can this be? Anyway, I’m using a little more, and it seems to do better. You can experiment.
I use gallon sized glass jars. Get the ones with the wider mouth, like the mayonnaise jars, if you can. Pickle jars usually have the narrower mouth. I hear you can use the plastic ones, but I don’t because I don’t know what the plastic can absorb (or give off). You can also get creative and use one of those flat-sided fish bowls, or a sun-tea jar. Don’t use a juice jug because you won’t be able to get the culture in and out of it.
For one jar, start with 2 to 2 1/2 quarts of water, bring it to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the burner and throw in some tea or teabags. Use about 6 regular teabags or a scant 1/4 cup of loose tea. You can combine green and black tea or use one or the other, though the culture seems to prefer to have at least some black tea. Herb teas don’t work because they have no tannin, which the culture needs . Use good water for K-T.
You don’t want to fill the jar all the way up because the tea needs air on the surface to work right. Two to two-and-a-half quarts of water in a gallon jar, plus your culture and starter tea, is an acceptable surface area and you should have good success.
For just one jar, after letting the tea steep for a while (I make mine very strong), add from 3/4 to 1 cup of white sugar. Remember this is for the Kombucha, not for you. The culture needs this food source, and honey contains enzymes and complex sugars and sometimes bacterial contaminants that will tend to degrade the culture over time. The culture will use the sugar to make a new baby on top of the tea as well as creating numerous enzymes and other factors that are purported to have many health benefits.
After stirring the sugar into the tea until it is completely dissolved, pour the tea into your clean jar. Let it cool until it is lukewarm, about the temperature you’d put a baby in. Then put your starter culture in along with the starter liquid. Take ONE taste with a clean spoon. DON’T dip the tasting spoon back in the jar without washing it first!!! If it doesn’t taste a teeny bit tart, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar. This will help prevent mold and give your culture a jump start.
Put a new coffee filter over the jar and secure it with a rubber band. I don’t recommend cheese cloth because fruit flies, which love K-T, can get through the mesh. Towels may be too dense and not allow the culture to breathe as it needs to. Place your jar in a quiet spot where it will have some ventilation (not in a stuffy closet, please) and be undisturbed. Undisturbed means, don’t move the jar AT ALL. The baby forms on TOP of the tea.
Your starter culture may sink or float, and it doesn’t matter which it does. The temperature is important. Kombucha prefers a temperature of 68-83 degrees Fahrenheit. In cold weather it will grow a little slower, even in a warm house.
Your Kombucha tea is ready to drink when the baby is 1/4″ – 3/8″ thick, which will take 10-14 days, depending on temperature and other factors. You can experiment to see at what stage you like it best, but just remember, there will be more enzymes in it if you let it go a little longer. Remove the baby and the original culture to a clean bowl and pour your starter liquid first from the jar for the next batch. I suggest this so you don’t forget and drink it all! But even if you do forget, you can still start more tea. Just add 1/2 cup of white vinegar instead of the starter. That batch may take a little longer.
Once I had some extra babies and no jars, and I put them all in an enormous plastic bowl with a solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 white vinegar, to keep them clean, wet, and free of mold while I got more jars. I then covered it with a large white dish towel and promptly forgot about it for approximately 10 days. When I suddenly realized this and looked fearfully into the bowl, thinking they were all going to be dead, what had the shameless fungus done but make a huge creamy white baby on top of the vinegar water! No tea, no sugar! I was amazed, and it shows how hardy the stuff is. (And yes, I know it isn’t really a fungus.)
Your K-T should be a little tart, slightly sweet, and although different batches are each a little different, it will probably be slightly effervescent and bubbly. New K-T does have a tiny bit of alcohol, but then so does commercial orange juice……..
Enjoy your K-T! If you have just one jar and don’t want to throw out one culture, just put them both in the jar, no problem. Or give one to a friend with some starter tea.
OK, now that you know how to make Kombucha, where to get a culture? There are many sources with different offers available. After 5 years and 500 customers, I stopped selling Kombucha cultures because I was doing some traveling with Hubby, and my helpers said “Ewww” when I asked if they’d be willing to keep the little darlings going in my absence.
Here is a lovely site about Kombucha, listing many sources of information.
The Kombucha Center is run by Beverly Ferguson, who also maintains the Kombucha email group. The best source for starts will be found here, in the form of people on the list who share cultures for free for just the cost of postage.
Bev’s site where she offers her Manna Drops.
You can get Kombucha starts as well as Kefir Grains from Kefir Lady.
Here is another site you might like to visit. Ardi is passionate about Kombucha and sells both finished product and cultures.
For more information, just put the word Kombucha into your internet search engine and follow your nose!
I received this testimonial from a customer, Brenda, regarding her husband’s experience with Hepatitis C and Kombucha. I have her permission to post it here.
Here is another letter from another customer, Mary, regarding her experience with Post-Polio issues and Kombucha. It is posted here with her permission.
I speculate that the live enzymes in Kombucha are a primary reason for the dramatic results to a sick liver in the first testimonial linked above. Now I’ve been led to a systemic enzyme product that helps to clear the body of stiffness, pain, viruses, and parasites in a very gentle and non-toxic way. I’m very impressed this supplement. Check out Vitalzym.
To ask questions, email me! (RemoteVwr@aol.com)
UPDATE!! PS, I found a fantastic tea merchant called Upton Tea Imports!! Go visit their site and check them out. The teas SEEM expensive, compared to Lipton, BUT a friend gave me a 1/4 kilo of an ASSAM district tea, and OMY what a difference. I’m going to try it for my personal KT.
I still like the convenience of the Lipton 1-oz bags, but I’ve experimented with several Upton teas with success. I make my own 4″ wide tea bags out of non-woven interfacing that I get at JoAnn Fabrics. Be sure to make the bag big enough to allow the tea leaves to fully unfurl in the hot water. With Upton it does seem to be necessary to have the water at a full rolling boil for 5 minutes, throw in the tea bag, clap the lid on the pot, and THEN turn off the heat. Be extra careful to handle the bag with spoon only and not with hands. I think this is because Upton doesn’t sterilize the life out of their teas. Pure speculation, that. My very favorite Upton Teas are the ones from India.
My very astute customer JoAnne, making Kombucha with a culture she ordered from me in January, wrote to order another culture because hers had failed. She routinely puts the new baby into a locking plastic bag while she makes a new batch of tea for the next batch. She couldn’t figure out what happened until she noticed the new plastic bags had some sort of anti-bacterial stuff on them. “…it was actually Glad Zipper bags that I bought the case of at the price club – with ‘Fresh Protect’ – it says that it is designed to maintain a balanced level of carbon dioxide and oxygen for keep food fresher longer, but I can trace KTs nose-dive to when I bought them.”
So, a word to the wise. Glad bags would probably be great to help keep food fresh, but apparently Kombucha doesn’t like them! Thanks very much, JoAnne, for permission to post this item.
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Disclaimer: Please note that your use of these instructions and Kombucha tea are solely at your own risk and discretion and Nancy Adams assumes no responsibility for your results, either positive or negative, or lack thereof. Kombucha tea is used by many people worldwide (including me) as a health drink. No claims of any sort are made for the use of this tea, at least by me. People who’ve gotten well drinking it feel differently about that.