DIY Kombucha - an Interview with Red Seal Chef Andrea Potter

by: EJ on 10/22/2018

DIY Kombucha: Sparkling Homebrews Made Easy is not just a beautiful book to look at, it is packed full of practical advice on everything you need to know to successfully brew your own sparkling teas.  Chef Andrea Potter was our guest on Facebook last week and answered dozens of questions about kombucha.  Today she answers a few more in her author interview.  


Where does Kombucha come from?

This is a question that is shrouded in mystery! As much as we are now learning about the ancient drink like what it's comprised of, who it might benefit and how, there is still a surprising amount that we don't know about its origins. It's thought to have first been brewed by people from the Russia/Manchuria/China area of the world. It may be related to an organism that grows on birch trees and feeds from the sap. Some also think that it is a close relative of the mother that creates cider vinegar. To add to the mystery, names for it in various languages include 'sea treasure' and 'hero mushroom'... I embrace the mystery, but continue to research the origins when my mind wanders there. 



What is Water Kefir and why is it good for me?

Water kefir a beverage that is fermented from sugar (and sometimes added fruit) and uses a different form of SCOBY (symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast) than kombucha. The result is a sparkling drink that has a crisp taste. Some people prefer the taste to that of kombucha. It is known as a digestive aide and has more probiotic strains than kombucha. Like kombucha it forms organic acids that assist the liver and so it helps the body's cleansing process. About 2/3 of the sugar is reduced from the original brew. However, water kefir can be higher in alcohol than kombucha, and people sensitive to alcohol might opt to water it down or moderate consumption for that reason. 



Is it better to use honey or sugar? Kombucha is adapted to sugar. Plain (preferably organic) cane sugar makes the most consistent and tasty kombucha. Some people report successfully adapting their kombucha scoby to honey, but I recommend that if you want to brew with honey, find a jun  scoby. It is a relative of kombucha that is adapted to the acidic medium of honey. (Check out my friend's Jun company Unity Jun on Vancouver Island to try this unique brew)



How can I tell how alcoholic my kombucha is?

You can do a test with a hydrometer by checking the initial brew on day 1 of making and then the brew when the batch is done. A hydrometer can be purchased at a homebrew supply shop, usually for around $10. 


Reader's Question:

I know sugar is the basis to stimulate growth and fermentation, what is the best sugar to use and what is the least amount I could use and still produce quality batch?

 I recommend organic cane sugar. Thr proportion of 1 cup of sugar to 4L (1 gallon) of water is recommended. If you want lower sugar in the kombucha, just ferment it for a longer period of time (don't reduce the sugar in the initial brew as it could starve the SCOBY)



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