Raw Vegan Blueberry Yogurt
250g organic Brazil nuts (Soaked overnight and rinsed)
500 ml of pure filtered Water or Probiotic drink (Kefir or Kombucha)
10 organic Dates
200g of organic Blueberries
1 organic vanilla pod scraped
Probiotics 2 teaspoons (Health force nutritional) or four capsules of Probiotic
Blend the nuts, dates, berries and water to a thick consistency, pour into a container, add the probiotic powder, and stir. Cover with lid but not an airtight lid, as air is needed. Leave out of refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Then Refrigerate. Eat when cold.
*To make a creamier dairy like yogurt follow the steps closely related to dairy based yogurt making below .* Or follow recipe above but use a nut butter instead of nuts . This works very well too with sunflower seed butter and using kombucha to blend instead of water.
Prepare Nut milk from Brazil nuts, almonds, macadamia, non-gmo soybeans or Brown Rice, Slowly warm to 46 degrees, Add agar agar and stir to thicken, Add coconut sugar and probiotic powder or other starter, Place in dehydrator for 6 hours at 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Flavors can be added to the finished cultured milk such as chocolate or berries. *If Using Coconut meat , no thickener is needed*.
Basic Cheese Recipe
250g organic Sunflower seeds (Soaked overnight and rinsed)
Pure Water or Probiotic drink (Kefir or Kombucha)
Season to taste with salt and pepper
Flavor of choice (Sundried tomatoes, orange juice, Miso, lemon juice,) Organic*
Some Fresh Herbs like coriander, parsley or chive Organic *
Probiotics 2 teaspoons (Health force nutritional) or two capsules
Blend all ingredients to a thick consistency, pour into a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and leave over a strainer in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours. Then refrigerate.
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds ( or any nuts and seeds), soaked at least 6 hours or overnight
1 dose probiotics (I use 1 tbsp., depends on the brand you use – better use more than less)
10g of mesophilic starter culture ( this is the whey from a previous cheese batch)
Just enough pure fresh water to blend
Rinse and drain the soaked pumpkin seeds. Blend with the probiotic powder and as little water as possible until perfectly smooth. Transfer to a cheesecloth placed onto a sieve over a bowl. Wrap, and weight the cheese parcel down. Leave undisturbed in a warm place for the magic to work. After 24 to 48 hours, the cheese will be nicely fermented. Transfer to the fridge as is, or shape it into a cheese shape and dehydrate for 8 hours and 4 further hours on the other side to have a harder rind around your cheese. Sprinkle with black pepper or even brush the outside of the cheese with a brine such as (salt, miso and water) then air dry for a number of days, this will make the cheese firmer by pulling moisture from the centre of the cheese.
*For Blue Cheese add Spirulina after fermentation process prior to setting the cheese or dehydrating the cheese. Add any other desired flavor to cheese at this point *
** For an even firmer cheese and a more advanced recipe, you can add a rennet such as a vegetable rennet which is a coagulating agent, you can buy vegetable rennet powder or you can make your own using nettle leaves as below, mix the rennet into your cheese mixture and bring to 30 degrees stirring well using a double boiler method **
What You’ll Need To Make Nettle Rennet
Instructions for Making Nettle Rennet
Basic Kimchi Recipe
2 Onions (white Spanish or sweet Italian Red) Red work best
2 red Chilli
2 Bell Peppers
2 sweet potatoes
Sea salt pink
Ginger or Garlic if desired
Shred all ingredients and place together in a basin, add salt to taste and ensure it is not too salty, leave for a few minutes to allow the salt to start pulling the water from the vegetables. Then massage until there is enough juice from the vegetables to submerge all vegetables under the juice. Place in the fermenting crock and compress and submerge all vegetables under the fermenting liquid, place a heavy object to keep vegetables submerged. Ferment vegetables for 3 days or up to 3 years. All ingredients must be organic*
Raw Organic Apple Cidar Vinigar
Essential creating raw organic unpasturised apple cider vinegar comes from an extended fermentation process. It involves just three ingredients, Apples, Sugar or honey and water. The fermentation process takes at least 3 weeks similar to a good strong kombucha. This is an extremely healthy product to use in salad dressings, in juice cocktails, for internal cleansing, washing vegetables and for making home made counter sprays.
5 large apples of choice
1 cup raw organic cane sugar * Similar to Kombucha, the end product will be void of sugar due to the fermentation process*
*A mixture of apples produces the best tasting and most healthful raw apple cider vinegar.*
50% sweet apples (Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Red Delicious)
35% sharp tasting apples (McIntosh, Liberty, Winesap, Northern Spy, Gravenstein)
15% bitter tasting apples (Dolgo crabapples, Newtown, Foxwhelp, Porter’s Perfection, Cortland)
Instructions For Apple Cider Vinegar:
Before you can make your raw apple cider vinegar, you must first make hard apple cider. The alcohol in the hard cider is what transforms via fermentation into acetic acid, which is the beneficial organic compound that gives apple cider vinegar its sour taste. Wash the apples and coarsely chop into pieces no smaller than 1 inch. Cores, stems and seeds may be included. Put the chopped apples into a 1 gallon, clean, wide mouth, glass jar. The chopped apples should at least fill half the container and maybe a bit more. Pour in room temperature filtered water until the chopped apples are completely covered and the container is just about full leaving a couple of inches at the top. Stir in the cane sugar until fully dissolved. Cover the top of the glass jar with cheesecloth, a thin white dishtowel or floursack cloth and secure with a large rubber band. Leave on the counter for about 1 week, gently mixing once or twice a day. Bubbles will begin to form as the sugar ferments into alcohol. You will smell this happening. When the apple scraps no longer float and sink to the bottom of the jar after approximately one week, the hard apple cider is ready. Strain out the apple scraps and pour the hard apple cider into a fresh 1 gallon glass jar or smaller sized mason jars of your choosing. Cover with a fresh piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubberband. Leave on the counter in an out of the way spot for an additional 3-4 weeks to allow the alcohol to transform into acetic acid by the action of acetic acid bacteria . A small amount of sediment on the bottom is normal. In addition, a mother culture will form on top, similar to what happens when making kombucha. Taste your raw apple cider vinegar to determine if it is ready starting after 3 weeks. If it has the right level of vinegar taste for you, strain it one more time and store in clean, glass mason jars or jugs. If after 4 weeks, the taste still isn’t quite strong enough, leave it for another week and try again. If you accidentally leave it too long and the taste is too strong, just strain and dilute with some water to a level of acidity that pleases you. Raw apple cidar vinegar is one of nature’s finest medicines. To make an amazing master Tonic, we add it to wheatgrass juiced, sprouts juiced, cayanne pepper, ginger root juiced and turmeric root juiced. This is an incredible Tonic.
Homemade barley koji for Miso Making:
6 cups pearled barley
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons Koji starter
Fermentation time: 46 hours
Temperature: 90 F (32 C)
Rinse 6 cups pearled barley and set to soak well covered with water for 6 hours. Drain the barley. and cook in pressure cooker, steam or boil until soft. Inoculating the Koji: Sprinkle the barley with the Koji starter once it has cooled down. Place the mixture in your incubation area( dehydrator), about 90 F (32 C). After 24 hours at 90 F (32 C): You should be met with a faintly yeasty mushroomy frangrance. The grains, with loosely bound lumps, should appear whitish as though dusted with flour. (If all the grains do not appear “dusted” allow the bundle several more hours to incubate.) Then, transfer the koji from the sheeting to your trays making the koji no more than 2 inches thick. Spread it evenly, then run several furrows 2 inches aparrt across the entire surface to increase the surface area and reduce the possibility of “hot spots” as the mold produces its own heat. Put a thermometer into the center of the koji and cover with lids right on the surface to keep moisture in and wrap with heavy towels for insulation. Return the koji to your incubation area. Koji temperature should not drop below 77 F ( 25 C) or go above 104 F (40 C) for very long. After 46 hours or so since adding the starter and first incubating, each barley grains should be cottony white. There may be some areas where light yellow-green spores have begun to form which will cause no harm. Any area of black or darrk blue-green should be cut away and discarded. Stir the mature koji at room temperature until cooled. Measure what koji is needed for your intended recipe and store the remainder in the refrigerator tightly sealed. Koji may be dried slowly in a warm area for longer refrigerated shelf life or frozen.
Mellow barley miso:
5 cups fresh barley koji
2 cups dry soybeans
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sea salt
1 1/2 cups soybean cooking liquid
1 tablspoon unpasteurized seed miso
Yield: 8 cups
Fermentation time: 2 months
Aging temperature: 77 F (25 C)
The evening before: Measure and rinse the the soybeans and set to soak, well covered with water, overnight, 12-16 hours.
Cooking the soybeans: Drain and rinse the soaked soybeans. Cook them covered with water until they are tender enough to mash between your thumb and ring finger, about 4-5 hours boiling, or 30 minutes steaming at 15 pounds pressure.
Mixing the miso ingredients: Drain the cooked soybeans, saving the cooking liquid. Transfer the soybeans to a large mixing bowl and mash them thoroughly. Measure 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid and add the sea salt, stirring to dissolve it. Stir the salted liquid into the mashed soybeans.
When the mixture cools to below 120 F (50 C) stir the koji and unpasteurized miso. Mix again very thoroughly.
Packing the miso crock: Spoon it all into a 1 1/2 gallon crock being careful to expel any air bubbles. Smooth the surface flat and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sea salt particularly at the very edges. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture and continuing up the sides of the crock. Fit a lid inside the crock on top of the plastic covered young miso and weight it with a pound weight. Cover the entire top of the crock with paper or cloth tied down to keep out dust and contamination.
Keeping records is important: Label each bath of miso with its name, what recipe was used, when it was made and when it will be ready to taste. Also some helpful information to add would be where it was incubated and some periodic room temperature readings. When the minimum aging time is reached, take out some miso for tasting but try to leave some to age longer to compare tastes. Smooth the surface of the miso, sprinkle with a little salt and cover as before. Keeping records such as these will allow you to make your next batch exactly the same if you like it or try new variations — which are endless!
Regular barley (Mugi) miso:
3 1/4 cups fresh barley koji
2 cups dry soybeans
1/4 cups + 1 tablespoon sea salt
1 1/4 cups soybean cooking liquid
1 tablespoon unpasteurized seed miso
Yield: 6 1/4 cups
Fermentation time: 1-2 years
Aging temperature: 77 F (25 C)
Procedure: Follow the above directions for mellow barley miso. The cooking and processing procedures are exactly the same. Only the amount of each ingredient is different and the aging time is longer. Remember to keep good records.
NOTE: Both recipes call for “unpasteurized seed miso” which is simply any kind of unpasteurized miso that is not heat-treated. This miso is helpful in that it contributes active beneficial cultures to speed the maturing process. Once you have made one batch of miso (unless you eat it all) you will always have a source of unpasteurized miso for all future recipes. This is to help the fermentation get a good start but don’t worry if you don’t have any seed miso.
Hishio and nattoh miso are two popular varieties of misos used as condiments rather than as a seasoning for soups, etc. They are meant to be served beside or on top of grains, noodles, vegetable dishes. Most are moderately salty, some slightly sweet but all are chunky with pickled vegetables, seavegetables, seeds, and spices. A large amount of barley (or wheat) koji, 60-75%, gives them a natural sweetness and they only require about a month fermentation. The following are not recipes but only guidelines to creating an endless variety of these delicious miso “chutneys”.
Hishio – Hishio is traditionally 75% barley, 15% soybeans & 10% vegetables:
Hishio base: Prepare 1/3 cup dry soybeans as for miso. Cool them to body temperature and add 1 1/2 cups barley koji and 1 cup naturally fermented soy sauce.
Other ingredients: Vegetables, seavegetables and spices should add about another 1/2 cup. Use root crops such as carrot, daikon or burdock and tender crops such as eggplant, uri melon or celery cut small. Add also kombu, wakami or sea palm, some sesame seeds and a small amount of ginger or horseradish.
Procedure: Mix all ingredients in a quart jar and age at moderate room temperature until it develops a miso-like aroma, 2-4 weeks. Eat & enjoy!
Nattoh miso – Nattoh miso is about 60% barley koji, 35% soybeans and 5% vegetables:
The relatively high % of soybeans gives this miso the look of Natto, a strong smelling bacterial fermented soybean condiment which gives this finger lickin’ miso its name.
Nattoh miso base: Prepare — 2/3 cup dry soybeans as for miso. Cool them to body temperature and add– 1 1/3 cups fresh barley koji and 1 cup naturally fermented soy sauce.
Other ingredients: Pieces of kombu, barley malt or sorghum & slivers of ginger.
Procedure: Mix all inredients in a quart jar and age at moderate room temperature about 2-4 weeks.
Dahi – Indian Ferment
Pickled tofu ( tofu in a brine of 20g salt to 1 liter of water for one week )
Wash and soak 4 cups of soybeans for 9 hours. Drain and pressure, cook for 12 minutes or on cooker for 9 hours. Then drain. Dissolve one spoonful of Natto spores into two teaspoons of sterilized water.
While beans are still warm poor the Natto spore solution over the beans and stir. Place in a shallow tray covered with —- cloth and put in dehydrator at 100 farenheit for 22/24 hours.
Advanced Cheese Recipe
Heat on double boiler up to 30 degrees, stir until coagulation occurs then follow normal process. Create rind by washing with miso bine
Pickled Vegetable in Brine – Lacto Fermentation
Mix 2og (4 teaspoons) of pink salt per 1 litre of water, dissolve salt in water by a low heat or by stirring, poor over vegetables, use a weight to keep vegetables submerged and keep fermenting vessel airtight. Ferment for 3 days or up to 6 months.
Sauerkraut – Traditional German Culture
4 heads of green cabbage
Sea salt /pink salt
Shred cabbage and place in a basin, add salt to taste and ensure it is not too salty, leave for a few minutes to allow the salt to start pulling the water from the cabbage. Then massage until there is enough juice from the cabbage to submerge all cabbage under the juice. Place in the fermenting crock and compress and submerge the cabbage under the fermenting liquid, place a heavy object to keep vegetables submerged. Ferment cabbage for 3 days or up to 3 years. All ingredients must be organic*
Water Kefir (Tibicos) Mexican Culture
1 Litre filtered water
100g of water kefir grains (Japanese water crystals) organic
60g raw organic cane sugar (¼ Cup of sugar)
Place all ingredients into a jar, keep in a dark, warm place, jar should be covered but not airtight. Taste after two days, kefir is ready when it no longer taste sweet. If it takes longer than two days use less sugar for next batch. For advanced recipe substitute water with an herbal tonic such as kava water works very well or your favorite herbal tea, lighter scented teas work well just as elderflower, jasmine, nettle. You can also substitute water with coconut milk. To make a carbonated drink you can do a second fermentation by straining the liquid form the kefir jar after at least two days when you feel it is ready to drink and add to another jar with fruit such as pineapples, grapes, apples, ginger and lemon. This will make a beautiful beer like beverage, which is of course non-alcoholic. Ensure all ingredients are organic. It is best to feed with sugar every 48 hours in order to maintain healthy grains and keep them duplicating. If you leave the kefir in an acidic environment for two long without adding sugar, the grains become pickled and their growth is inhibited, the grains may still produce a perfect probiotic drink but will not continue to reproduce. This can also happen with overly filtered water, however in order to keep a good mineral content you can simply add pink salt or baking soda to the water.
Fruit Kvass – Eastern European Culture (Traditionally with Rye bread)
1 Litre filtered water
100g of organic fruit such as Goji berries
100g of started liquid Mesophilic Culture (such as whey from vegan cheese) or 1 tablespoon of probiotics
1 apple sliced
1 tablespoon of grated ginger or turmeric
Place all ingredients into a jar, keep in a dark, warm place, jar should be covered with airtight lid and fermented fro at least 3 days. This is called Fruit Kvass, using fruit to replace the traditional rye bread used in Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania. You can make wild fermented Kvass by simply leaving out the culture and probiotics, this will wild ferment from the interaction of the sugars and natural yeasts on the fruit, spices and berries.
Smreka – Bosnia Cultured Beverage ( Wild Fermentation)
1 Litre filtered water
100g of organic Juniper berries
Place all ingredients into a jar, keep in a dark, warm place, jar should be covered with airtight lid and fermented for at least 30 days. Open every few days to release pressure, this will give you a nice carbonated drink. When all the berries have dropped to the bottom of the jar, the Smreka is ready.
Tepache – Mexican soft drink – Wild Fermentation
1 Litre filtered water
100g of organic fruit such as pineapple or blueberry ( pineapple is traditional , and usually with leftover skins of pineapple )
10g of organic raw cane sugar ( optional)
Place all ingredients into a jar, keep in a dark, warm place, jar should be covered with airtight lid and fermented for about 3 days. After 3 days the drink will create an alcohol content and then longer will turn to vinegar. After 3 days place in the refrigerator. In this case there is no starter added (such as whey, Scoby or probiotic), as it is a wild fermentation, relying on the yeast on the fruit feeding on the sugar
Root Beer / Fruit Beer – Jamaica
1 Litre filtered water
100g of roots (ginger, dandelion, burdock, valerian)
5 g of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of probiotics or 50g of whey or other starter
Boil up water and roots and strain, add more cold water to make it fit the fermenting vessel, allow to cool, then add honey and starter. keep in a dark, warm place, jar should be covered but does not need to be airtight and fermented for about 3 days.
* This preparation is similar to a beverage called PRU native to Cuba and ASAVAS, which is a preparation used in Ayurveda traditions, any plant medicine can be the focus in these preparations rather than just roots. The ASAVAS, KASHAYA & ARISHTAS are herbal preparations that are fermented plant medicine rather used in a similar way to our herbal tinctures. *
Mabi / Mauty – Tonic beverage in Caribbean:
Fermented sweatened decoction of tree bark of Soldierwood.
This works too using decoction of other roots + barks. Use fruit instead of sugar.
Tea of mushrooms, roots like liquorice + burdock, add nettles, strain and ferment aerobically like kombucha but only for two days.
Ferment with apple juice or berries instead of sugar to avoid a sweet beverage.After two/three days put into a bottle, seal and ferment for another two days.
Pru – tonic beverage from Cuba (Ferment fruits + spices + leaves + roots):
Decoct roots + spices, add leaves, simmer, strain into bottles, add fruits and ferment for 72 hours. For the next batch, you can save some of your original batch to use as a starter culture for next batch which you would add a small amount to each bottle, this makes the ferment stronger + quicker. This starter culture is called (madre)
Sweet potato fly – Tonic from Guyana:
Grate sweet potato (2 per 500 ml water) leave in bowl with water to remove starch, then rinse + add to 1 litre jar with kefir water and ferment aerobically for two days, then add to bottles.
Whole daikon radishes pickled in rice bran for at least 6 months. Jar + 1 litre water + 20 g salt + 1 sheet kombu + Daikon.
Fermented tea leaves. Fermented afer steaming, packing into crock pot for one year.
Ginger bug for ginger beer:
Grate ginger with skin into jar, add water + sugar + ferment for a few days similar to apple cider vinegar.
Alu· – fermented beverage in Brazil:
Fruit + sugar + water (Pineapple/apple/blueberries/orange) pineapple peels + sugar + water. Ferment for 24/48 hours anaerobically
1 litre jar
Hanfull of berries
Core of apple or pear
1/2 jar kefir/kombucha
1/2 jar filtered water
Close jar and ferment for three days
Beet kvass – Blood tonic (or lettuce kvass):
Same recipe as pickled beets, except less salt + using liquid. Second ferment the liquid.
Tsukemono – Japanese style pickling:
Follow normal pickle recipe + add miso to water or koji
Kaanji – Spicy Punjabi beverage:
Batlons of carrots pickled with water, salt and mustard seeds. Use the pickling juice as the beverage.
Salgam suyu – Turkish beverage:
This is the brine from pickled purple carrots and turnip
Culture cabbage juice:
Brine from sauerkraut
Mitsuya – Japanese soda:
Fermented pine needles: Stuff jar with pine needles and top with kefir water and ferment for three days anaerobically
A thick raw vegan milk or cream, plain or fruity fermented with a vegan yogurt starter or some probiotic capsules/powder. Ferment anaerobically for 6/8 hours for a delicious raw vegan sour yogurt.
For a thicker, creamier yogurt consistency – use a raw mylk that has been strained and heat up to 43 degrees, add probiotics and maintain heat of 43 degrees for 24-48 hours. Use a yogurt maker or food dehydrator. Add simple spice to yogurt to use as a sauce condiment like a greek tsatziki or indian raita. Hang yogurt over a bowl in fine cheesecloth, whey drips out and it becomes Labneh – a yogurt cheese popular in the Middle east. Mix yogurt with bulgur and further ferment it to become a soup flavouring and thickener known as kishk. Dry yogurt into a stable block to grate or powder which is called kurut. Stir yogurt and add water kefir to make what is called a Doogh which is a Persian yogurt soda (add dried mint, salt, black pepper for traditional Doogh)
Viili – is a Finnish cultured milk. For a vegan version, use soy or almond mylk. Warm gently, add 2 capsules of probiotic, leave in jar overnight in a warm place, covered with a cheesecloth.Place in fridge the next day and leave for a few days for flavour to develop.
Koumiss – is a central Asian fermented drink: Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 jar of unsweetened soy or almond mylk, then blend in blender with some coconut oil, nutritional yeast, salt and turmeric until smooth. Add this buttermilk to bottles of raw mylk, seal and ferment for 10 hours.
Tara – is a Tibetan milk culture
Sky – is a fermented milk from Iceland. For a great vegan option, make your nettle rennet – just nettle tea with salt then strained. Then make small jar of buttermilk by adding lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to soy or almond milk and leave to curdle, then bring 1 litre of almond or soy milk to a gentle heat around 40 degrees, add in the buttermilk and add 1 tablespoon rennet. Leave in a jar with cheesecloth covering overnight.
Gariss – is a fermented yogurt from Sudan. Milk is curdled and fermentation is started by adding a few seeds of black cumin and one onion bulb.
Tettemelk – is a Scandinavian fermented milk . The ferment is often started by introducing a culture from a previous batch, without this, it us cultured by introducing leaves of butterwort plant, other leaves can be used to curdle milk such as stinging nettle, fig, Indian fig, mallow, creeping charlie, Lady’s bedstraw and thistles.The juice of nettle or nettle tea in a solution of salt is fantastic for curdling milk and also makes a great rennet for use in making a firm cheese
Creme fraiche is simply cream fermented for a day or two. It’s thick, rich and velvety
Koji – is a grain usually rice or barley inoculated with a mold called Asoergillus oryzae. Koji is used as a starter for miso making.
Soak, drain and cook brown rice, allow to cool. Add Aspergillus and incubate for 48 hours at 26 degrees in food dehydrator to make beautiful fluffy and sweet koji
Rejuvelac – is a tonic begerage made by fermenting already sprouted grains in water. After you sprout your grains, cover with water and ferment for two days, then strain of liquid, bottle and seal.
Fermented porridge: Soak oat groats for at least 6 hours. Then add to a thermo flask with boiled water and leave overnight.
Follow the same process with rice to make rice congee, which is a chinese porridge. Another method is to steep the soaked grains in a closed jar of water for two days then slow cook the porridge until it’s creamy and slightly sour and so easy to digest.
Amazake – is a Japanese sweet rice porridge, pudding or beverage made by fermenting rice with koji. Cook rice in pressure cooker, after soaking overnight. Cooking takes 12 minutes in pressure cooker. Then add 2 cups of koji for every cup of rice, incubate for 15 hours at 33 degrees in food dehydrator.
Homemade fermented sodas:
Basic recipe is sweetened water with sugar, maple syrup and fruit juice + flavouring such as fruit, herbs or essential oils + culture fermented for 2 or 3 days then sealed in a bottle and fermented for a further few days until pressure builds up indicating carbonation.
Some interesting combinations:
Carrot juice with ginger
Ginger, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg fermented with kefir
Coconut water kefir
Hibiscus and schizandra berry with rosehip
Gojiberry and rosehip
Lemon and rosemary
Blackberry and hibiscus
Shrub: is a Vinegar that can be the basis for sour tonic beverages. A traditional name for a vinegar-soured fruit drink is a shrub. Simply add berries and herbs if desired to home made apple cider vinegar in a closed jar overnight and enjoy a sweet and sour beverage.
Kombucha (Panacea or Peril) – Central and Eastern Europe
1 Littre pure water
1 Kombucha Scoby organic *Scoby (Symbiotic community of yeast and bacteria)*
60g raw organic can sugar (¼ Cup of sugar)
5/10g of organic Matte Tea or Organic Green tea or and Organic White / Black Tea
And Other Herbs of Choice
Place water and sugar into a pot and bring to the boil, add the green tea or matte tea. If you are just using these herbs or other leaves then turn heat off and allow cooling down while infusing with the herbs. When cool poor into a jar with your organic Kombucha Scoby culture. Keep in a dark, warm place; jar should be covered but not airtight. Taste after 7 to ten days, Kombucha is ready when it no longer taste sweet and resembles vinegar. It is also important to test the ph. level of the Kombucha and ensure it is between 2.5 and 4ph. If you would like to use other plants, roots, barks or medicinal mushrooms such as horsetail, chaga, reishi, pau d’arco, astragulas you will need to keep the water and sugar warm at around 80 degrees for up to 6 hours or longer for a more potent medicinal extraction such as an over night extraction. This will reduce the liquid but will be very potent and medicinal. To make a carbonated drink you can do a second fermentation by straining the liquid form the Kombucha jar after at least seven days when you feel it is ready to drink and add to another jar with fruit such as pineapples, grapes, apples, ginger and lemon. This will make a beautiful beer like beverage, which is of course non-alcoholic. Ensure all ingredients are organic.
Jun, is a Tibetan version of Kombucha, which uses honey instead of sugar, **To test sugar and alcohol levels in Kombucha use a hydrometer, read more about a Hydrometer and how to use by clicking HERE*
Air or no Air
Notes of whether to allow airflow to Kombucha and kefir or Not. Kefir for example is probiotic culture with up to 30 different microbes in it; around 80-90% are bacteria and 10-20% yeast. Once you have yeast species as part of your culture you need to introduce air=oxygen so they can properly multiply and grow/function. The oxygen role is quite complex and its importance differs between various yeast species, more info for example about Saccharomyces cerevisiae requirements can be found HERE
I ferment my kefir grains without “continuous” access of air (so tightly closed vessel), however I leave around 20-30% of the volume of my fermentation vessel empty which means filled with air. I’m likely to open it once per day or two, specifically to make the yeast happy supplying it at least with a bit of oxygen. It works for me long term; the grains grow well and produce nice and tasty ferment. With My Kombucha I also ferment it in an airtight jar and treat it similar to the kefir, I have been doing so for over 7 years and my Kombucha ferments perfectly and my culture has remained very health and multiplied very healthy also. I also suggest that perhaps there is also an adaptation happening in that the cultures are living organisms and perhaps have the ability to adapt to different growing environments. Other Notes about air is that some of the bacteria strains in the culture are aerobic (do require air) and some are anaerobic (do not require air), some of the essential bacteria that produce the beneficial acids are actually anaerobic which do not require air but the bacteria that produce alcohol does require air in order to convert the alcohol to gas and release it and so without air will produce great alcohol content. So as explained it is not black or white on the issue of air but for a brew that is low in alcohol content it may be best to go with an aerobic process.
What is Kombucha ?
Kombucha is fermented tea, an ancient elixir consumed for thousands of years by civilizations all over the planet. The most commonly attributed Kombucha Benefits include better digestion, increased energy, and a clearer mind. Kombucha cultute is a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), a term coined by kombucha enthusiast Len Porzio in the mid-1990’s.
Kombucha History & Science
Kombucha has been around for thousands of years, believed to have originated in China around 250 BC, traveled throughout Asia and Russia and eventually became a health craze in the US over the past two decades. Legend has it that it was named after a Korean physician Kombu who healed the Japanese Emperor Inyko with the tea, and the tea was then named after him: “Kombu” + “cha” (which means tea.) The science of fermentation is one practiced in homes, rather than laboratories, and for that reason it has an air of mystery. These living foods change from batch to batch, and since they can’t be patented or highly controlled, there’s no real incentive for the science community to spend resources in research.
Gunther W. Frank, considered by many to be the world authority on kombucha, says
“the kombucha culture looks like a white rubbery pancake. It is a symbiotic culture of yeast and other microorganisms. The culture is placed in sweetened black or green tea and turns the tea into a sea of health-giving acids and nutrients. The kombucha culture feeds on the sugar and, in exchange, produces other valuable substances which change into the drink: glucuronic acid, glucon acid, lactic acid, vitamins, amino acids, antibiotic substances, and other products. The kombucha culture is, therefore, a real tiny biochemical factory.”
“Dr. Maxim Bing (1928) recommends the ‘Kombucha sponge’as a’very effective means of combating hardening of the arteries, gout and sluggishness of the bowels. By using good fresh culture a very favorable effect begins to take place, which in cases of hardening of the arteries expresses itself by a drop in blood pressure, a cessation of feelings of anxiety, of irritability and aches and pains, headache, dizziness, etc. The sluggishness of the bowels and its concomitant symptoms can likewise speedily be improved. Particularly favorable results are obtained in cases of hardening of the kidneys and the capillary vessels of the brain, whereas hardening of the cardiac vessels is less favorably influenced.’
Dr. E. Arauner (1929) says that the “Kombucha culture has been used for hundreds of years by the Asiatic people of his homeland because of its surprising success as the most effective natural folk remedy for fatigue, lassitude, nervous tension, incipient signs of old age, hardening of the arteries, sluggishness of the bowels, gout and rheumatism, hemorrhoids and diabetes.”
The specific bacteria and yeast strains in the kombucha are what make it act the way it does, and they also produce the fizz and flavor we expect from kombucha. Not all kombucha cultures will contain the exact same strains, but generally, these are some that you might expect:
Acetobacter: This is an aerobic (requiring oxygen) bacteria strain that produces acetic acid and gluconic acid. It is always found in kombucha. Acetobacter strains also build the scoby mushroom. Acetobacter xylinoides and acetobacter ketogenum are two strains that you might find in kombucha
Saccharomyces: This includes a number of yeast strains that produce alcohol, and are the most common types of yeast found in kombucha. They can be aerobic or anaerobic (requiring an oxygen-free environment). They include Saccharomycodes ludwigii, Saccharomycodes apiculatus, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Zygosaccharo- myes, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Brettanomyces: Another type of yeast strain, either aerobic or anaerobic, that is commonly found in kombucha and that produces alcohol or acetic acid
Lactobacillus: A type of aerobic bacteria that are sometimes, but not always, found in kombucha. They produce lactic acid and slime
Pediococcus: These anaerobic bacteria produce lactic acid and slime. They are sometimes, but not always, found in kombucha.
Gluconacetobacter Kombuchae is an anaerobic strain of 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 mushroom.
Zygosaccharomyces Kombuchaensis is a yeast strain that is unique to kombucha. It produces alcohol and carbonation as well as contributing to the mushroom body.
Kombucha also contains a variety of other nutrients, particularly various acids and esters that give the drink its characteristic tang and fizz. Included in these components is gluconic acid, which is the primary difference between the makeup of kombucha and the makeup of apple cider vinegar! The actual bacteria, sugar, and acid content of kombucha depends on many factors, including the culture you begin with, the type of tea used, the type of sugar used, the strength of the tea, the type of water, the length of time brewing, the temperature at which it is cultured, and more. While different scobys may vary in their exact makeup, what is common to all kombuchas is gluconic acid, acetic acid, and fructose.
Making kombucha, an excerpt from ‘The Art of Fermentation’
Kombucha: Panacea or Peril? Kombucha is sugar-sweetened tea fermented by a community of organisms into a delicious sour tonic beverage, sometimes compared to sparkling apple cider. Kombucha is typically produced by a SCOBY, also known as a mother, that takes the form of a rubbery disk, which floats on the surface of the tea as it ferments. The community of organisms can also be transferred via the kombucha liquid itself, which can generate a new SCOBY. The kombucha mother closely resembles a vinegar-making by-product, mother-of-vinegar, and is composed of many of the same organisms; indeed, some analysts have come to the conclusion that they are exactly the same.
No other ferment even approaches kombucha in terms of its sudden dramatic popularity (at least in the United States). Kombucha has enjoyed acclaim in many varied locales, widely promoted as beneficial to health, notably in Central and Eastern Europe over the course of the last century, and its use has been growing in the United States since at least the mid-1990s. I first tried kombucha around 1994, when a friend of mine with AIDS started making and drinking it as a health practice. It was touted as a general immune stimulant, though claims of kombucha’s benefits have been extraordinarily varied and broad. In those days, kombucha was not commercially available in the United States, but it spread exclusively through grassroots channels as enthusiasts grew more and more mothers and sought to share them. Today there are dozens of commercial enterprises manufacturing and selling kombucha–ranging from small start-ups to multinational corporations. In 2009, a leading US brand, GT’s Kombucha, sold more than a million bottles, and Newsweek reports that between 2008 and 2009, US kombucha sales quadrupled, from $80 million to $324 million.
Kombucha has inspired much polarized debate, with claims of dramatic curative properties matched by dire warnings of potential dangers. My own conclusion is that both sets of claims tend to be exaggerated. Kombucha is neither panacea nor peril. Like any ferment, it contains unique metabolic by-products and living bacterial cultures that may or may not agree with you. Try some, starting with small servings, and see how it tastes and feels to you. Many enthusiasts regard kombucha as something of a miracle cure-all. Harald W. Tietze, an Australian promoter of kombucha, writes that he has received reports of kombucha being used to effectively treat disorders including arthritis, asthma, bladder stones, bronchitis, cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, constipation, diabetes, diarrhea, edema, gout, hay fever, heartburn, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney problems, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, prostate disorders, rheumatism, sleeping disorders, and stomach and bowel disorders. Herbalist Christopher Hobbs recorded the following additional claims from discussions on an Internet bulletin board: Kombucha is said to cure AIDS, eliminate wrinkles and remove liver spots, reduce hot flashes during menopause, and help muscle aches, joint pains, coughs, allergies, migraine headaches, and cataracts. While people suffering from each of these conditions may indeed feel that their conditions improved by drinking kombucha, “there is no scientific data to back up any of these claims,” writes Hobbs. We cannot expect foods to be panaceas.
One common explanation for the healing power of kombucha is that it contains glucuronic acid, a compound produced in our livers, which binds with various toxins for elimination. Günther Frank, a German promoter of kombucha’s health benefits, explains: “Kombucha does not target a specific body organ but, rather, influences the entire organism positively by … the detoxifying effect of its glucuronic acid.” Unfortunately, repeated laboratory analysis has found that glucuronic acid is not actually present in kombucha. Possibly it has been confused with a related compound that is a metabolic by-product of glucose, gluconic acid, which is commonly found in ferments and other foods. In 1995, a small group of kombucha enthusiasts began investigating kombucha chemistry through laboratory testing. One of them, Michael R. Roussin, explains: “Conflicting reports of the ferments’ contents, along with a warning from the FDA, prompted me to take a closer look at what I was drinking.” After performing mass spectral analysis, specifically looking for glucuronic acid, on 887 different samples of kombucha, the group concluded that the compound was not present.
As for kombucha’s potential danger, in 1995 the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report ran a story headlined, “Unexplained Severe Illness Possibly Associated with Consumption of Kombucha Tea,” with possibly being the operative word. In two separate incidents, weeks apart, two women in Iowa had very different unexplained acute health episodes. One of them died. Both drank kombucha daily and made it from the same original SCOBY. The Iowa Department of Public Health immediately issued a warning to stop drinking kombucha “until the role of the tea in the two cases of illness has been evaluated fully.” But they were never able to explain how kombucha may have been related to the illnesses, and 115 other people were identified who drank kombucha from the same mother without problems. When the mothers and the kombucha that possibly made the women sick were subjected to microbial analysis, “no known human pathogens or toxin-producing organisms were identified.”
Other medical reports have associated extremely varied symptoms with kombucha consumption, also without identifying any specific toxicity or causative factor. Responding to a flurry of questions following the CDC report, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning of sorts, cautioning that the acidity of kombucha could potentially leach lead or other toxins from vessels, and that “home-brewed versions of this tea manufactured under non-sterile conditions may be prone to microbiological contamination.” However, like other investigations, FDA microbial analysis found “no evidence of contamination.”
Concern about kombucha’s safety has not been limited to government regulators. Mycologist Paul Stamets published an article in 1995 called “My Adventures with ‘The Blob.'” Because kombucha was mistakenly referred to as a mushroom, Stamets received frequent questions about it. As an expert in propagating and investigating isolated fungal species, a largely uninvestigated mixed culture worried him. “I personally believe it is morally reprehensible to pass on this colony to sick or healthy friends when, to date, so little is known about its proper use,” he writes. “Making Kombucha under non-sterile conditions becomes, in a sense, a biological form of Russian Roulette.” While I have tremendous respect for Stamets’s work with fungi, I reject the notion that making kombucha at home is random or dangerous. All of the ferments, kombucha included, involve creating selective environments to ensure success. The idea that kombucha (or any ferment) is safe only in the hands of technical experts denies the long lineages of home and village production that spawned them and plays right into the disempowering cult of specialization. Make sure you understand the parameters of the selective environment you need to create, and you are not playing Russian roulette. Basic information and awareness are important. Empowered with them, you may ferment without fear.
Kombucha is usually just sugar-sweetened tea, fermented by a specific community of bacteria and yeasts. Increasingly, creative kombucha makers have been giving kombucha exciting new twists by adding herb, fruit, or vegetable flavors. Typically these flavorings are added to kombucha for a secondary fermentation following a primary fermentation of just tea and sugar. By tea, I mean an infusion made from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), not the infusions of other plants (such as chamomile or mint) that in the English language we also describe as teas. You may use black tea, green tea, white tea, kukicha, pu-er, or other styles of tea, but in general stay away from Earl Grey or other heavily flavored or scented teas, as the added essential oils may inhibit fermentation. You may use tea bags or loose tea, and brew the tea strong or weak, as you like. I typically brew a very strong concentrate, then dilute and cool it by adding water, so I can add the SCOBY without having to wait for the tea to cool.
To sweeten the tea, add sugar, meaning sucrose from sugarcane or sugar beets. Some people have reported excellent results making kombucha using honey, agave, maple syrup, barley malt, fruit juice, and other sweeteners; others have had their SCOBYs shrivel up and die. Similarly, some people report excellent results without any tea whatsoever, using herbal infusions or fruit juices as the sole flavorings. This leads me to the conclusion that there are divergences on the kombucha family tree. Just as some people, animals, and plants can adapt better than others to altered conditions, some kombucha mothers exhibit greater flexibility and resilience than others. I would encourage you to experiment with different sweeteners and flavorings if you like, but don’t use your only mother. Use one layer of the SCOBY to experiment, while maintaining the other in the traditional sugar and tea medium. Try for a few generations, to make sure the mother grows and continues to thrive. The amount of sweetener may vary with your taste. Personally, I never measure the sugar, simply adding to taste. Try about 1/2 cup/125 ml (by weight 4 ounces/113 g) of sugar per quart/liter. Stir well to dissolve; this is easiest if the sugar is added to the tea while still hot. Taste and adjust the sweetness as desired.
Cool the sweetened tea to below body temperature. As described earlier, making a tea concentrate and diluting it with cold water is a fast way to do this. Place sweetened tea into a wide-mouth fermentation vessel, ideally glass or ceramic (with a non-lead glaze). Avoid metal vessels, even stainless steel, which may corrode in the prolonged presence of acids. Because kombucha is an aerobic process, in which fermentation occurs on the surface where oxygen is available, it is best to use a wide vessel only partially full, so as to maximize surface area in relation to volume. To the cooled sweetened tea, add some mature kombucha, at a ratio of about 5 to 10 percent of the volume of the sweet tea. This both acidifies the tea and contributes kombucha organisms. Acidification is important for maintaining a selective environment that favors the kombucha organisms and prevents potential contaminants from developing. (If for some reason you do not have any mature kombucha to use as an acidifier, use vinegar of any kind, but in a much smaller proportion–about 2 tablespoons/30 ml per quart/liter.) Once you have combined cooled tea, sugar, and mature kombucha in the fermentation vessel, add the mother.
Ideally, the mother will float at the surface. Sometimes it will sink at first, then slowly float back up. Other times one edge of it will float to the surface and generate a new film over the surface. If your SCOBY fails to float or generate a new film after a few days, it is no longer viable. If your SCOBY is a different size or shape from the surface of the kombucha in your vessel, it will generate a new film that is exactly the size and shape of the surface. Always cover the vessel with a light porous cloth that allows air circulation while keeping flies and mold spores off the kombucha. Leave the vessel to ferment in a warm spot, away from direct sunlight. You can purchase a mother, or obtain one from another home kombucha maker via online trading posts (see Resources), or grow one from commercially available live-culture kombucha. To grow one, simply pour a bottle of kombucha–preferably plain, without any particular flavoring–into a wide-mouth jar, cover with a cloth, and wait about a week (longer in cool temperatures) for a skin to form on the surface. This skin is a kombucha SCOBY.
As you make more kombucha with your SCOBY, it will get thicker, generally growing in layers that you can peel off and use to start additional batches of kombucha, or share. I’ve seen kombucha mothers as thick as about 6 inches/15 cm. There is no particular benefit to a huge SCOBY, so most people peel away layers and share them. Other uses I have seen or heard of for extra SCOBYs include these: Blend them into a paste and use them for facials, spreading the paste on your face and leaving it to dry there.Brooke Gillon of Nashville, Tennessee, folds thin layers of kombucha SCOBYs into flower shapes and dries them in that shape. Gorgeous! Suzanne Lee, of the School of Fashion and Textiles in London, makes garments out of kombucha. According to a news report: “As the sheets dry out, overlapping edges ‘felt’ together to become fused seams. When all moisture has evaporated, the fibers develop a tight-knit, papyrus-like surface that can be bleached or stained with fruit and vegetable dyes such as turmeric, indigo, and beetroot.”
Kombucha does best in a warm environment, from 75° to 85°F/24° to 30°C. The length of fermentation will vary depending upon specific temperature, and how acidic you like it. In warm weather, I typically ferment my kombucha about 10 days. Taste it every few days, and evaluate whether you want it to continue to ferment and acidify. In a cool space–say, 60°F/16°C–it takes a very long time; sometimes in winter I have left mine for months before it acidified to my liking. Once kombucha has become as acidic as you like (only you can be the judge of that, transfer the kombucha to bottles–reserving some to acidify the new batch–and brew more sweet tea to begin the process anew. Kombucha works best as an ongoing rhythm, because to remain alive, the SCOBY needs continual nourishment. If you go away, you can simply leave the SCOBY in kombucha for as long as several months, and then resume feeding it fresh sweetened tea upon your return.
When your kombucha is pleasingly acidified, you have several options. The simplest is to drink it. Bottle it as is and refrigerate. If you wish to further flavor, you can add fruit or vegetable juice, or a sweetened herbal infusion or decoction, for a secondary fermentation. The most exciting kombuchas I’ve tried have been made in this fashion. When I visited my friends at the Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley for a veritable tasting orgy, I was blown away by their incredible innovative kombucha flavors: Buddha’s hand (a citrus fruit), mint, and bee pollen; turnip (oh, so good!); and beet. They do the primary fermentation with green tea and sugar with the kombucha mother; then decant kombucha and mix with fruit or vegetable juice for a secondary fermentation; and finally mix with a bit of honey at bottling for carbonation.
The secondary fermentation may be aerobic in an open wide-mouth vessel like the primary fermentation, or in a sealed or air-locked vessel. In an open vessel, the sweetened kombucha will likely develop a new mother on the surface, and growth will continue to be dominated by acetic acid organisms. In a sealed vessel (which could be the final bottle for serving, or not), the secondary ferment will yield more alcohol, as well as lactic acid. Even if you don’t care to incorporate additional ingredients in a secondary fermentation, you can carbonate kombucha in bottles. Simply decant it into sealable bottles while it is still a bit on the sweet side; seal the bottles; and allow it to continue to ferment in the sealed bottles for a few more days so carbonation can develop. Add a bit of fresh sweetener at bottling to speed or increase carbonation, but beware of excessive carbonation. I can’t caution readers enough on this subject.
Questions continually arise as to whether sugar and caffeine persist in mature kombucha. The sugars do metabolize into acids, so you could ferment kombucha to the point that there is no sugar left. However, at that point, your kombucha would taste like vinegar, and most people prefer it when it is still somewhat sweet, and hence still with some of the sugar intact. As for caffeine, when herbalist Christopher Hobbs submitted a sample of kombucha to a laboratory for analysis, it was found to contain 3.42 mg/100 ml–much less than is typically found in a cup of tea, but most definitely present.39 Michael Roussin reports that according to his laboratory analyses, caffeine levels remain constant throughout the kombucha fermentation period.40 Specific caffeine levels will vary with type and amount of tea, length of steeping, and so forth. The notion that kombucha removes caffeine from tea is unsubstantiated; if you wish to avoid caffeine, make kombucha using weak or decaffeinated tea.
Another issue that has come up in relation to kombucha is its alcohol content. Kombucha probably always contains small traces of alcohol, as do nearly all fermented foods, including sauerkraut. Typically, the alcohol content of kombucha is somewhere below 0.5 percent by volume, which is considered a non-alcoholic beverage by law. (Traces of alcohol below 0.5 percent are typically found in fruit juices, sodas, “non-alcoholic” beers, and even breads and bread products.41) Sometimes, however–especially with anaerobic in-bottle secondary fermentation–kombucha’s alcohol content can rise above the 0.5 percent legal limit. In June 2010, the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) tested off-the-shelf samples of various commercial kombucha products and found that, in some, alcohol levels exceeded the allowed 0.5 percent. TTB issued a “guidance document” declaring that “kombucha products containing at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume are alcohol beverages.”42 Many retailers removed kombucha from their shelves until greater product control could be assured. Some manufacturers are taking measures to limit opportunities for in-bottle fermentation; others are switching from traditional kombucha to laboratory-derived defined starter cultures.
Finally, a word of caution about molds that sometimes develop on kombucha SCOBYs. I have experienced mold developing on kombucha, and I simply removed the SCOBY from the kombucha, scraped or peeled the mold away, rinsed the SCOBY, and proceeded to drink the kombucha and reuse the SCOBY, without incident. However, after reading Paul Stamets’s article on kombucha, I would advise greater caution. “Of most concern are the species of Aspergillus I have found floating around with Kombucha,” Stamets writes. (In contrast with Aspergillus oryzae and A. sojae, used for millennia to make rice beer, miso, soy sauce, and many other ferments, some Aspergillus species produce toxins.) “I fear that amateurs could think that by merely pulling out the Aspergillus colonies with a fork, that the culture would be de-contaminated, a dangerous, even deadly presupposition. The water-soluble toxins of Aspergillus can be highly carcinogenic.”43 Avoid molds by remembering to acidify each batch of kombucha with mature acidified kombucha from the previous batch. In the absence of mature kombucha, you can use some vinegar. If molds should form, however, discard the batch of kombucha, as well as the SCOBY, and begin anew with a new SCOBY.
Doesn’t start to ferment: It may be that your starter is not viable. It may be that the solution was too hot when culture was introduced and killed it. Maybe ambient temperatures where you placed your starter are too cold; try to find a warmer spot. Maybe chlorinated water is inhibiting fermentation. In the case of ginger bug, maybe the ginger was irradiated; try again with organic ginger. If there was no starter other than fruit: Stir, stir, stir. And be patient.
Gets too sour: This means you have fermented it too long. Try a shorter fermentation next time. Many beverages, however, notably kombucha, can be used as vinegar if they overly acidify. In addition, many overly soured beverages can be salvaged by diluting with some water or carbonated water, along with sweetener if desired.
Too weak: Next time, use more of the flavoring agent (ginger, tea, sweet potato, mauby bark, fruit, whatever) and/or sugar.
Surface molds develop: Acidifying kombucha with mature kombucha or vinegar helps prevent surface molding. With ferments other than kombucha, stirring or shaking daily while they are in open vessels prevents molds by disturbing them before they become visible. In making vinegar, stir the sugary solution at least daily until a mother forms. After that, increasing acidity will help protect the vinegar from molding, and stirring becomes impossible without disturbing the mother.
Kombucha mother sinks: Sometimes when you place a kombucha mother into a new batch of cooled, sweetened tea, the mother sinks to the bottom rather than floating on the surface. Be patient. Often within a few hours the mother will float to the top. If not, sometimes one edge of the mother will float to the top, causing a new mother to be generated, which at first looks like a thin film over the surface. If neither of these things happens, and your mother remains sunken in the sweet tea, it is no longer viable as a kombucha mother. Make it into nata candy and find another mother, or culture your kombucha with a high proportion (one-quarter to one-half) of mature kombucha, and it will generate a new mother on its surface.
Water kefir grains not growing: Water kefir grains typically grow pretty rapidly. Under ideal conditions, they can more than double with each feeding. If you find that yours are not growing, it probably means that they are no longer viable. Water kefir grains can become pickled if they are left more than a few days in an acidified solution without fresh sugar. When you find some more water kefir grains, feed them more frequently to avoid this.
Water kefir grains disappear: See above. If water kefir grains are left in an acidified solution without fresh sugar, they first become pickled, then may eventually disappear.
Excerpted from The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz