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Old 07-10-2012, 09:37 PM   #1
onipar
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Default Adding new yeast strains and bacteria to your SCOBY?

I've been doing a lot of reading recently about the different types of yeast and bacteria in the SCOBY coupled with the reformulation of the SCOBY in recent years.

I got to thinking about how I used to "catch" wild yeast to make sourdough bread. From what I've read, it'd be nearly impossible to create a SCOBY from scratch (without some sort of starter culture), but what I thought might be cool, is if we could somehow innoculate our current SCOBYs with known beneficial yeast strains and bacteria.

So, what so you, scientists of the brewing world? Is this doable?

This article lists all of the possible (known) yeast strains and bacteria found in Kombucha cultures.

So for instance, in that article you'll notice Brettanomyces is sometimes found in the SCOBY. Would it be possible to add a tiny amount of brett (from a smack pack or white labs vial) to a current ferment of Kombucha, to help introduce that particular yeast to your SCOBY?

Obviously you'd want to add only the smallest bit, so as not to throw off the balance of your SCOBY, but can this be done?

What about putting a few raisins into your ferment to try and snag some of the yeast/bacteria on them? Peaches? Apples?

Similarly, do new wild yeasts and bacteria naturally join your SCOBY over time, as you ferment new batches? Since it's an open air ferment, it seems plausible...

Again, I'm just spit balling here. I have very little science background. What do you think?

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Old 07-11-2012, 03:03 AM   #2
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I think this is a great experiment. I would think you could probably get some wild yeast from throwing some fresh picked fruit in with it. You could probably get some more specialized strains to take over (or work with) the yeast in your SCOBY. I would think some strains of wine yeast might be more aggressive towards the other yeast, but it would be interesting to see if they would mind living with the bacteria. It would be cool to have a batch of Kombucha with the character of a familiar beer yeast.

Also, I was also wondering you could have more control over the flavor/acidity of your kombucha by using an airlock at certain times to let the bacteria take a break and get more of the yeast character in there. Just spit balling too.

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Old 07-11-2012, 12:49 PM   #3
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Once I have a few extra SCOBYS, I may start doing small half gallon batches, trying to add something new to the mix (raisins, brett, grapes, etc). I'll probably try only one thing at a time and see if it has any effect on flavor.

I don't have any special equipment, so probably the only way I'll know if anything new has joined the SCOBY team is if the flavor of the Kombucha changes.

Since the "reformulation" was supposed to have taken out some of the more alcohol producing yeast/bacteria, it'd be fun to try to add more of those.

Any other thoughts? Any one else want to try this? Anyone think this won't work?

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Old 07-11-2012, 02:10 PM   #4
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onipar - experimentation is good. But... your primary fermentation phase is a time when you want to feed the yeast which in turn feeds the bacteria, both of which eventually feed you. Playing with the tea types, sugar type (refined white, raw, honey, etc), and sugar quantity is fine, but I'd save the raisins, juices, and other flavorings for secondary fermentation experiments.

Remember that during primary fermentation you're just trying to get the yeast/bacteria balance, final sugar/alcohol level, and final pH right, so that you have a good-tasting, recognizably "Kombucha" drink when you're done. Then you can remove a healthy mother & baby scoby plus your clean starter tea before you start experimenting.

Just my $0.02...

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Old 07-11-2012, 05:47 PM   #5
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onipar - experimentation is good. But... your primary fermentation phase is a time when you want to feed the yeast which in turn feeds the bacteria, both of which eventually feed you. Playing with the tea types, sugar type (refined white, raw, honey, etc), and sugar quantity is fine, but I'd save the raisins, juices, and other flavorings for secondary fermentation experiments.

Remember that during primary fermentation you're just trying to get the yeast/bacteria balance, final sugar/alcohol level, and final pH right, so that you have a good-tasting, recognizably "Kombucha" drink when you're done. Then you can remove a healthy mother & baby scoby plus your clean starter tea before you start experimenting.

Just my $0.02...
I think you sort of missed the point of why I want to do this...

I'm not trying to flavor the Kombucha, rather, I want to try and introduce as many beneficial yeast ad bacteria as possible, to make for an extremely healthful SCOBY. Additionally, I wouldn't necessarily be drinking the kombucha made in these small batches. I'd probably leave them to turn to vinegar in an attempt to grow a healthy scoby with new properties.

The raisins, grapes, etc that I mentioned aren't meant to flavor the Kombucha. I wanted to try and get some of the yeast and bacteria that are known to live on those fruits to "join" my SCOBY. I'd only be adding maybe 3 or 4 raisins for instance.

The idea is that apparently during the reformulation that took place, the kombucha companies took out certain yeast/bacteria in order to reduce the alcohol production. I'm interested in attempting to reintroduce certain yeast and bacteria.

There are plenty of pitfalls, and I'll have to be careful not to throw off the balance between yeast and bacteria, but I figure it's worth playing around with. The easy way of course would be to just buy a SCOBY, but I like experimenting. I don't know if this will work or not, but with so many baby scobys being produced every time I make a batch, no harm if a test batch fails or makes a foul tasting kombucha.
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:45 PM   #6
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So, I'm rethinking my plans here.

I e-mailed GT a week ago, and they just responded and actually asked to call me on the phone to speak with me. I was calling to find out when the "classic" Kombucha would be available where I live, but while I had them on the phone, I asked about the reformulation.

I mentioned how I had read that there are reduced probiotics, and the rep told me that this is incorrect. She said the reformulated version has the same amount of probiotics as the classic.

I then asked if any specific yeast strains or bacteria were removed from the SCOBY. She said the SCOBYs are the same as they always were, the difference is with the "process" GT uses to ferment the product.

Now, I'll admit this was sort of second hand info coming from a rep at GT, but if it's true, I don't see any need to try adding yeast or bacteria as I outlined earlier in this thread.

I might still play around with it, but I'm satisfied with the answers I received from GT.

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Old 07-15-2012, 03:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onipar View Post
From what I've read, it'd be nearly impossible to create a SCOBY from scratch (without some sort of starter culture)
I have no idea what you've been reading, but it's wrong!

Kombucha is brewed open air, so obviously new microbes can be introduced. If a new species or strain which can outcompete the existing one(s) gets in, it'll replace the existing one(s). In time I'm sure you end up with the best of what's in your area, and after a while the thing would be pretty stable. Most of our cultures are pretty old and so probably pretty stable and consistent (any changes likely to occur have already occurred).

Sticking beer or some other yeast source in, I would think, probably won't do much, except maybe in your first generation brew if you add a heap of your beer yeast so it begins with a big head start. If the beer yeast could outcompete the existing kombucha yeast, something similar would already have happened; yeast is everywhere, all sorts of yeasts. You and I are covered in them right now.

Still, it would be a fun experiment! Give it a go!
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Old 07-15-2012, 05:04 AM   #8
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I have no idea what you've been reading, but it's wrong!

Kombucha is brewed open air, so obviously new microbes can be introduced. If a new species or strain which can outcompete the existing one(s) gets in, it'll replace the existing one(s). In time I'm sure you end up with the best of what's in your area, and after a while the thing would be pretty stable. Most of our cultures are pretty old and so probably pretty stable and consistent (any changes likely to occur have already occurred).

Sticking beer or some other yeast source in, I would think, probably won't do much, except maybe in your first generation brew if you add a heap of your beer yeast so it begins with a big head start. If the beer yeast could outcompete the existing kombucha yeast, something similar would already have happened; yeast is everywhere, all sorts of yeasts. You and I are covered in them right now.

Still, it would be a fun experiment! Give it a go!
Meh, to be honest I sort of lost interest in this idea not long after I posted about it. Partly because of what I said in my last post (the one before yours), and partly because shortly after adding some black tea to my kombucha, my new scoby became much more "healthy" looking.

I had been a bit worried because all my scobys were thin, translucent, and covered with lots of yeast. I had been using 100% green tea to brew it.

I added a couple bags of black tea to my last batch, and the baby that grew was pure white, much thicker, and looks like the kind they sell online. So I was pretty happy after that.
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Old 07-18-2012, 09:04 PM   #9
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Onipar,

I am glad you looked into this. That was one of my concerns, too - gut health is so important, and sometimes I wondered if I was getting enough "bang" for those 4g of sugar per bottle of GT Dave.

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Old 07-18-2012, 09:39 PM   #10
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Onipar,

I am glad you looked into this. That was one of my concerns, too - gut health is so important, and sometimes I wondered if I was getting enough "bang" for those 4g of sugar per bottle of GT Dave.
No problem. I had just heard so much conflicting information about this that I started to wonder if I could simply add what was lacking.
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