FIX8 KOMBUCHA

Kombucha is fermented tea. And like kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi, it’s part of the Cultured Club. Fermentation transforms the tea into kombucha – a ‘super’ tea that’s naturally rich in amino acids, active enzymes, beneficial bacteria and polyphenols. The ultimate elixir.

We steep a combination of loose leaf green and black tea in fresh filtered water. In goes the sugar to stir and wait to cool. Once cool, we add a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) that kick-starts the fermentation process. We cover and leave in a warm room for a couple of weeks, then decant. All that’s left to do is to infuse the kombucha with our unique blends of fruit, herbs and spices, then simply chill and chug.

It should be the perfect balance between sweet and sour. Tangy and tart, yet deliciously refreshing. Kind of where apple cider vinegar meets soda. If you’re used to super sweet, it can be an acquired taste, but before long you’ll be hooked on that sour hit.

There are some great kombuchas out there, but each brand has its differences. Ours is handcrafted, natural and distinctively tasty. We worked with our dear friend and expert herbalist Michael Isted to create a unique blend of multi-dimensional flavours. Everything is made with medicinal-grade herbs, spices and flowers so they’re full of real flavour and will genuinely do your body good.

That’s the sign of a healthy culture. It’s just cellulose that has formed since bottling, and means the kombucha is active, which is exactly what you want. It’s totally safe to gulp down, or you can filter it out if you prefer.

Cold. Ice Cold. In the fridge (0-4)°. Always.

Whenever you want, however you want! Try it in the morning on an empty stomach, with lunch as a digestive, or in the evening from a wine glass (add a shot of gin if you’re feeling frisky). We only ask that you drink it ice cold.

As much as you like! A bottle of booch should give you a little buzz, but listen to your body, it’ll let you know when you’ve had enough. (Obviously don’t drink 10 gallons).

We ferment between 10-14 days. Each batch is unique so the time it takes to reach perfection differs. That’s what we love about it!

We use a combination of green and black tea to create the right flavour profile. The black tea adds an earthy, dark fruits flavour to the brew. We balance this with the aromatic citrus, grassy profile of our green tea.

There is small amount of natural caffeine in kombucha from the tea used to brew it, about a third of the amount of caffeine in your regular cup of joe. If you are sensitive to caffeine, try exploring what the right amount of kombucha is for you. Alcohol-wise, our kombucha has trace amount (<0.5%) from the fermentation process.

Without sugar there is no kombucha – it’s an essential part of the fermentation process. The sugar we add to the brew is not for us, it’s for the SCOBY to consume! There is only a small amount of sugar remaining in the brew, to keep the cultures happy. They also need a bit of a buzz…

To date, there haven’t been any large-scale studies on this, so we have to recommend you avoid it.

Yup. We only use ingredients which are naturally gluten-free.

110% yes, and again, naturally so.

HOMEBREW Q'S

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Tap water has a lot of dissolved minerals which buffer and slow the fermentation making it sluggish. It also contains chlorine by way of a disinfectant and this can produce a taint in beverages.

 


Depending on the speed of your fermentation (this is affected by the profile of your water - dissolved minerals - the temperature of your environment etc) your kombucha can take 1-4 weeks to ferment. The key here is to keep doing a sensory analysis; taste it often and when you are happy with the flavour profile, it is time to syphon off your liquid for secondary and set aside the remainder to start your new brew. 10-14 days is typical at warm temperatures, but the variability of homebrew environments means this timeframe is often longer; as long as you are happy with the taste and ready to drink you can make this decision at any time. Things to watch out for if you think your brew is struggling in fermentation are: blue mould (often furry in appearance), or failure to produce a bio-film on the surface.


The cellulose layer often develops unevenly and differently depending on the action of the bacteria - it is gluconacetobacter that are responsible for this action primarily in most cases, but different bacteria and strains of yeast will create bio-films of a varying nature, depending on which is predominating over time. If you hold on to this cellulose, you will notice that it develops and changes somewhat in colour and structure; this is nothing to worry about, but you can also get rid of it at any time should you so choose - remember that it is really only a by-product of fermentation and not necessary to brew with; in addition, a fresh layer will develop with each successive fermentation.

With regard to your cellulose pellicle, bio-flim or physical ‘SCOBY’, this can be kept with the volume of kombucha you will be retaining as starter for your next batch (this needs to a minimum of 10% of the projected volume you seek to make in the next cycle). We usually recommend that you just decant the volume you are going to drink into secondary, leaving the starter and pellicle together in the original brewing vessel, allowing you to simply brew sweetened tea and once cooled add this to the same vessel to keep a continuous brew going without disturbing the culture. If this ever becomes full of too many artefacts or the jar is too grubby (or indeed if you are seeking to increase production volume in a large vessel) you can consider transferring out to clean your vessel, but you should be able to complete a number cycles without needing to do this. A reminder that you do not necessarily need to keep the cellulose - it is a by-product of the fermentation and a new layer will develop with every ferment, but really it has limited intrinsic value to the process, the important factor is the health of your liquid culture.


There will be a light carbonation present in your kombucha while brewing as the organisms are always producing CO2, but at warmer temperatures and while not under pressure, this will dissipate. That is why you place your liquid in a sealed environment under pressure for secondary fermentation, allowing the gas to be dissolved into the liquid to make your drink fizzy. This carbonation remains dissolved better at low temperatures, hence why things with gas in them often fizz up more when warm and why it is best you chill your kombucha before drinking. Kombucha is a slow gentle ferment and it is not always obviously actively producing gas as in more vigorous fermentations (beer, wine etc), so don’t be surprised (or dismayed) if you don’t see any gas appear during the 40 seconds you observed it on a given day!


The time frame for fermentation is very variable and temperature is a major driver to this; optimum temperature for the culture and to achieve the fastest turnaround is approximately 28 degrees centrigrade. This is hard to maintain at home, but lower temps will simply result in a longer, slower fermentation - some home brews can take as much as 4 weeks depending on the environment. You can try wrapping some cloth around the vessel or keeping next to a home boiler/in an airing cupboard to mitigate a cold ambient temperature. Another driver is the water profile - municipal supplies often tend to be relatively hard (contain a lot of dissolved mineral salts) and this will buffer the required drop in pH that is a characteristic part of kombucha fermentation as alcohol is metabolised to produce organic acids. We recommend filtered water to give as neutral a starting profile as possible.


The brown mass is usually flocculated yeast - this happens once the yeast has performed it's primary function earlier in the ferment and the pH drops, it is stifled a little and the microbial culture takes over converting the alcohol to acids.

Fermentation for kombucha is very variable - both because the desired flavour profile is quite subjective, but also because environmental factors greatly influence the process and hence each homebrew will progress and develop differently. When brewing on an industrial scale we measure values like pH (acidity) and the gravity (sugar content) of the liquid to chart its progress; but essentially, the most important diagnostic is sensory evaluation. Keep tasting your kombucha and depending on whether you prefer a tart, acidic profile or a sweeter softer feel you would either ferment your batch longer or move on to secondary fermentation. Bear in mind that when you add a substrate to your secondary ferment (either fruit, honey or simply more sugar) that you will bump up the residual sugar; some of this will be consumed in the secondary ferment, but just be aware that if you want something really dry and tart you need to ferment it longer first time around.

 


The 'SCOBY pancake' or pellicle is something people are a little superstitious about, but from a scientific point of view it really is not integrally important and you can get rid of it if you find it easier - commercial brewers, for example, rarely keep these and a new layer will form on every batch where they act as a colony for the microbes. The liquid culture (hence the acronym ‘Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is what is needed for the fermentation at a rate of a minimum 10% by volume.


If you are happy with the flavour profile of your kombucha, then you will next need to syphon off the volume of kombucha you would like to drink into a vessel for secondary fermentation. This vessel must be able to hold carbonation and here you can add flavouring ingredients - herbs, spices, fruit (or a little sugar) to reinvigorate the yeast and kick start fermentation again. If the liquid is very turbid or has a lot of artefacts, you can roughly filter it through some coffee filter paper or muslin cloth on the way into the vessel. Once you add the ingredients this should then be closed and kept under pressure at ambient temperature for 2-7 days, depending on the speed of your fermentation. It will naturally create carbon dioxide which you will be able to observe by shaking the bottle - when this has reached a level you would like you can chill, ready to drink. Remember to save over at least 10% of the volume you would like to produce on your next cycle in your brewing jar so you can brew again. If you would like to brew more next time, save more kombucha from this ferment – you won’t have so much to drink this time, but your next batch will ultimately be much bigger.


In secondary fermentation you can add whatever flavourings you'd like (fruit, herbs etc - ideally something with a little natural sugar to reinvigorate the yeast) and place in a vessel that holds carbonation. Then leave for 2-7 days at ambient temperature to produce the CO2 level you desire, at which point you can chill and it will be ready to drink. Some ingredients, such as ginger, are classic bedfellows for kombucha, but feel free to experiment – raw fruit, frozen fruit, puree and juice are all suitable formats. This stage is where you can be creative - most things go! If using fruit, this is full of natural sugars and you will not need to add any further sugar; if only herbs or seasoning a few grams of sugar or some raisins will keep the ferment going without affecting flavour. How much you add and how long you leave it are both subjective matters; some people prefer a sweeter kombucha with a soft carbonation, in which case a couple of days will leave you with a pleasant residual sweetness and some mild carbonation. At the other end of the spectrum you can leave for up to 14 days to get a drier, tarter drink with a very spritzy carbonation. If doing this, you may want to burp the bottle occasionally over time to release some gas to avoid explosions. When you are happy with the flavour profile in your bottles, put them in the fridge to cool down which will make the culture dormant and stop any further changes and also help your carbon dioxide to stay dissolved in solution for a less lively and more pleasant drinking experience.


The organic acids in kombucha make it naturally tart and I would suggest your fermentation is almost done if the body is light as this would imply that most of the sugar has fermented out. You can add more body and sweetness back with flavouring in secondary fermentation.

Your brew will produce a pellicle - a disc of cellulose that sits like a lily pad on top of the liquid. You can save this along with the liquid culture medium as starter for a future batch. If you don't want to make a full batch right away, this can be kept at room temperature - just make sure to feed it a little (cooled) brewed sweetened tea every couple of weeks to keep it nourished until you are ready to brew again.

This is somewhat dependent on what sugar you feed in secondary, how active your yeast is and the temperature of the liquid - if you were just adding sticks of root ginger, for example, this will contain very little additional sugar for the yeast to feed on - if not using high fructose fruits you can add some dissolved sugar along with your ingredients to make it more accessible. This, a little oxygenation on the way into the bottles and leaving for a longer time (as a guide, beer makers will often leave live beer to bottle condition for approximately 2 weeks) will give you more of the 'fizzy' character you desire. Again, keeping your brew nice and warm will accelerate the process! Unlike beer, kombucha doesn't have enough protein to create a very long lasting foamy ‘head’, so although it may fizz more to begin with, it may not stick around as long.


You can increase your kombucha batch to whatever size you wish as long as you have a big enough vessel - the rule here is that your starter (a portion of your previous brew which contains the active cultures) must always be equal to at least 10% of the projected volume you wish to make. So, as you increase your batch, just keep more of your previous batch over to use as the basis of the fermentation on your next brew. The rest of your brew is made from brewed, then cooled sweet tea as before - you can extrapolate the numbers from the sugar in your original recipe, but be aware this is just a guide: you can use more sugar for a higher starting gravity if you prefer a sweeter kombucha and the opposite corollary for a drier iteration. Dependent on the rate of your fermentation you can also vary fermentation time to suit your preferred profile with reference to a sweet/dry and acidic balance.


There are a few reasons this can happen. Often, it can be the result of a foreign body falling inside the vessel before the pH has dropped low enough and the brew has been properly inoculated. It can also perhaps be the case that the vessel wasn't entirely sterilised before the tea was added. Once the pH is low enough and a small bit of alcohol produced (early on in the ferment) then the brew becomes very stable and impervious to infection from any pathogens or spore forming organisms. Temperature plays a big part in this as well: the culture thrives at a temperature of around 26-28 degrees centrigrade - if it is below 20, it will take much longer for the metabolic processes to begin and therefore leaves the brew more vulnerable. Try to aim for a starting temperature when pitching your culture of 28 - this can be difficult to maintain in a homebrew setting; somewhere like an airing cupboard can be good and perhaps also wrap your jar in some warm textile material to help insulate it.


You should never refrigerate your starter as it is a living culture and requires a warm environment to stay active - this is for exactly the same reason that the finished kombucha must always remain cold, to ensure the micro-organisms remain dormant and don't make the product volatile or subject to a change in flavour profile from further fermentation or acidification. Culture that has been chilled has a greater propensity to develop mould when employed in future fermentation.


There's no need to clean the vessel between every single brew, but it is advisable to clean after every 10, if you are able to keep track!

We advise to keep your SCOBY and roughly 10% of the original liquid to use as the "starter" in your next batch. You can add the tea solution straight on top of the SCOBY and starter liquid; however do make sure to only add the tea once you have diluted it with cold water - if you add boiling / very hot water, it will kill the SCOBY.

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