Yeasts and bacteria in Kombucha
- Acetobacter is an aerobic bacteria strain that produces acetic acid and gluconic acid
- Saccharomyces includes a number of yeast strains that produce alcohol and are the most common types of yeast found in kombucha.
- Lactobacillus: A type of aerobic bacteria that is sometimes, but not always, found in kombucha. It produces lactic acid and slime.
- Gluconacetobacter kombuchae is an anaerobic bacteria that is unique to kombucha. It feeds on nitrogen that is found in tea and produces acetic acid and gluconic acid, as well as building the scoby.
- Zygosaccharomyces kombuchaensis is a yeast strain that is unique to kombucha. It produces alcohol and carbonation as well as contributing to the mushroom body.
SPECIAL NOTE! You can see some of these bacterial yeasts turn sugar into alcohol. There have been kombucha with records of 2.5% alcohol in them bought from the store! If you’re a recovering alcoholic you’ll want to stear clear.
- SCOBY Hotel to the left! Keep it clean! Put in different container every couple batches.
- I put some raw apple cider vinegar in with the kombucha before I put a towel around it. I was having problems with mold growing in it. The cooler temperatures of winter meant my vinegar and alcohol didn’t get produced as quickly and it had more time to mold. AND IT DID! I called the company about my ruined moldy SCOBY and they sent me another one with the helpful tip of vinegar!
- I usually let it sit in a dark cabinet for about two weeks. For the faint of heart you can go less time. Once I forgot about it and let it ferment for two months. When I got it out of the cabinet the SCOBY was GIANT and the kombucha was really strong. I cut it with a lot of juice and it was still fantastic.
- After the two weeks for the initial fermentation it’s time to flavor your kombucha!
I have experimented with LOTS of fruits and herbs in my kombucha. Everything from spicy turmeric, ginger, cayenne, and lemon to apple, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, ginger, and lemon. Or usually whatever the hell is about to go bad in my refrigerator. Easily my favorite flavor is grapefruit and ginger. Since I filter out the kombucha after letting it sit for a week to infuse the flavors, I don’t even usually cut the skins off of the ginger. I just throw it all in and cover it with a towel or plastic lid.
Things that will kill your SCOBY
- Metal- Metals other than stainless steel can get corroded with prolonged exposure to acidic substances. Also, many metals (especially copper) are natural antimicrobials. Since fermentation is the process of encouraging certain types of bacteria grow, metal is not a good option. Use plastic and glass.
- Sunlight- UV kills bacteria. Normally that is a good thing but not in this case!
- Too Hot or Too Cold Temperatures- Too hot will kill that bacteria, too cold with slow it down to the point where it won’t ferment.
- Lids that completely seal- Fermentation is always going to produce some sort of a gas. If you seal it, you had better refrigerate it or else it WILL explode!
- Chlorine (yes even the chlorine in tap water is too much). Make sure you either boil your water or let it sit out for a day before using it for any fermentation process.
- Air! Keep that baby dunked under it’s SCOBY juices (which is kombucha)