Mark Clulow

Kombucha Starter Kit Guide / Notes

In The Box

  1. Glass tank with a white breather cap, purple handle, purple cap (you won’t need this, in fact) and a hole in the bottom for the tap
  2. Red plastic tap, with 2 rubber washers and a filter nut
  3. A gaussian sheet (to go in between the top of the bottle and the breather cap, to keep any bugs out)
  4. Two packs of oolong tea
  5. One cup of refined white sugar
  6. One ‘scoby’ (‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast’) in starter culture (raw unfiltered kombucha)
  7. One ‘Grolsche-style’ popper-top bottle containing freshly brewed, raw unfiltered raspberry kombucha

Kombucha Starter Kit Instructions

  • Before you begin, please make sure that all items listed under ‘In The Box’ are present. If anything is missing, please let me know and I will ship right away.
  • Next, sanitise the vessel with a vinegar bath using 2:1 mixture of water and vinegar. If using soap, be sure to rinse thoroughly with hot water and finish with vinegar.
  1. In a pot (NOT THE GLASS TANK, I use the pot from my rice cooker), bring 9 cups of water to a boil and steep the 2 provided tea packs (use a tea strainer ball if you have one)
  2. Once the tea is brewed, remove all the leaves
  3. Stir in 1 cup of sugar (there is exactly 1 cup of sugar in the bag provided). This is vital for the reproduction and fermentation.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp. of distilled vinegar (this is only required on the first batch and some people argue it is not at all necessary, so if you don’t have any vinegar, you can just skip this step)
  5. Allow the tea to cool completely to room temperature - I usually leave mine out (covered) overnight
  6. While you are waiting for the water to cool, attach the plastic tap, with the nut and one of the 2 washers on the inside of the tank. Everything else goes in through the hole from the outside. Tighten and test to make sure that the tap is in the CLOSED position.
  7. Sanitise the glass tank with a vinegar bath using 2:1 mixture of water and vinegar. If using soap, be sure to rinse thoroughly with hot water and finish with vinegar. Open and close the tap during this process in order to clean the inside of the tap also.
  8. Once the tea has cooled completely, pour it into the glass tank.
  9. Next, add the scoby and the liquid it comes in (this is just more raw unfiltered kombucha, you can even have a taste!)
  10. Stir the mix briskly, but not aggressively. This will impregnate the tea with the bacteria and yeast
  11. Cover to top of the jar with the gaussian sheet (I fold it in half to make it smaller), then place the white breather cap on top of that, making sure it is secure. Open the breather hole to let air get in and out.
  12. Let it sit for 7-10 days - ideally in a constant 20-24°C. environment if possible. Do not leave in direct sunlight. At cooler temperatures, the tea will ferment slower and culture growth is inhibited.
  13. For my own personal character, I like to set a calendar alarm for 10 days and then forget all about it, but you can start daily sipping after 7 days.

During Fermentation

  • The first sign of growth will appear by day 3 in the form of filaments floating in the mixture. The original scoby will not have increased in size, but it will produce a new culture on the surface of the tea that may or may not float to the surface.
  • If you put the brew set-up in a larger container, the new scoby will grow to the size of the new container.
  • During the beginning of the brewing process, you may notice some dark brown growth appear on the surface. Next, a thin skin will start to form. Many white gas bubbles will be seen and then the skin will solidify and congeal into a new culture that will look like a thin pancake. This is the beginning of scabby growth. Other people will mistake what begins to form on the surface as old, however old is rare.
  • The first culture will wary between 3mm and 8mm. There will be dark brown strands under the culture. This is the simple root structure that will fuel the following batches.
  • Taste the tea on the 7th day to see if it is ready. If it tastes too sweet, allow it to ferment longer. Usually it takes 7-10 days, but it may take longer depending on the temperature of the brewing environment.
  • If the tea has fermented, it is ready to drink, even though the culture may not be fully established. Pour tea through the tap into the swing-top bottle.
  • Preparation for the second batch can begin. Be sure to leave enough tea in the tank to help act as a starter culture for the next brew.

Important Notes

  • Recommended daily consumption is 120ml - 180ml.
  • A few may experience stomach distress due to carbonation and fermentation in the tea.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should be aware that consuming large amounts of kombucha can affects the pH level of some bodily fluids and contain a small amount of caffeine and alcohol.
  • If you have any preexisting health conditions, please consult a health care professional before consuming kombucha

Storage

  • Prepared tea should be kept cool in the refrigerator, preferably in a glass container like the one provided.
  • The longer the tea is kept in the fridge, the smoother the taste will become.
  • If a heavily carbonated tea is desired, cap the bottle and leave it a room temperature for 3 days.

Subsequent Brews

  • Experimenting with different kinds of tea and sugars can begin after the first batch has completed. Do not use teas with added oils, such as Earl Grey. Different teas and sugars will produce a different taste. Organic cane sugar is the recommended food source for the kombucha culture. Sugar substitutes (such as stevia, honey or xylitol) should not be used.
  • Once the culture has been used to make a batch of tea, it is now called a ‘mother’ culture. The mother culture may sink into or float on top of the tea. Dark matter and new strands may extend from the bottom of the culture. This is the simple root structure of the culture. The second batch will produce a thinker culture.
  • To start the second batch brewing process, simply top up the kombucha brew kit with freshly brewed COLD sweet tea (with the same water / sugar mix as before) and wait for another 7 days
  • Having the tap on the tank allows you to do ‘continuous brewing’, that is to say as you pour off 1 bottle of fermented tea, you can add another bottle’s-worth of cold sweet tea to top it off.

Scoby Notes

  • The culture produced during the second batch may grow attached to the mother culture from the previous batch. They can be easily peeled apart.
  • One may discover that it is not necessary to use a mother culture to start a new batch. Kombucha from a previous batch can be used to start culture growth, but the brewing process will take longer. Remember that the tea is alive and growing!
  • Sometimes the tea will form a bubble and push mother culture out of liquid. The top of the culture may have dried and become discoloured. Simply press the culture down to submerge it into the tea.
  • Fermenting tea will smell like overripe apples or vinegar. Small bubbles may form on the surface.

Rasberry Kombucha - Second Fermentation

  • A bottle of already fermented, raw, unfiltered kombucha has been added in the kit for you to enjoy.
  • I added 3 frozen raspberries, which will quickly turn white, as the tea absorbs the redness of the fruit.
  • This bottle underwent second fermentation today.
  • I also added a few raisins as an excellent secondary sugar source that doesn’t change the flavour.
  • Store at room temperature and have a little taste every day until it it to your liking.
  • By popping the bottle every day to taste it, you also ‘burp’ the bottle and release the pressure that build up during this second fermentation.
  • When it is exactly how you like it, strain the flavouring ingredients out, re-bottle and place in the fridge to slow fermentation (usually no more than 3 days at room temperature is required)
  • Once refrigerated, consume within 3 days, if it lasts that long :)
  • Remember to only fill the swing-top bottle only 3/4 - 7/8 the way full, to allow some room for the air pressure to rise.
  • Other flavours that are awesome include mango & passionfruit, apple & cinnamon, beetroot, lemongrass and orange & cloves.

For answers to any questions, please message me or leave a comment below to share the learning! (VPN may be required to see the comments feature).

Happy brewing and cheers to your health!

Other Links / Resources



I would like to personally thank www.culturedbrew.com from whom I initially bought my first scoby in Hawai'i and upon whose instructions these guidelines are based.

Last Updated: 2017-11-02

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