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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Kombucha & Fermented Tea Forum > Second fermentation, mini scoby?
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Old 06-06-2013, 06:52 AM   #1
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Default Second fermentation, mini scoby?

Here a shot of an acidic KT brew with 30% juice on its second day of its 2nd fermentation. Is it normal to have this much action happening already on the second day?

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Old 06-06-2013, 03:55 PM   #2
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Yes, if it's warm. I don't get those little scoby-plugs during the winter months in my house when the inside temps are around 70, but when we let it float up to about 78 or 80 in Texas summers I'll get them sometimes. If you fill all the way to the top, leaving no air-gap, you'll also suppress them.

I don't strain my Kombucha before 2nd ferment myself. But after 3 or 4 days when the carbonation is really strong, I do strain all those liter bottles as I pour them into smaller 12-16oz bottles. Because I lose a little fizz during that operation (often the liter bottles bubble out like champagne), I leave those smaller bottles out for another 2 to 3 days before refrigeration. So just to be clear, my full cycle time is something like 16 days at room temps - usually 10 for primary ferment (gallon jars only cloth-covered), 3 days for 2nd ferment (un-filtered KT in sealed in liter flip-top bottles), then 3 for "3rd ferment" (strained KT in sealed 12-16oz bottles).

One more thought, and I could be wrong here so anyone is welcome to correct me. Yeast eats sugar and makes carbonation. Bacteria eats tea and oxygen to make more bacteria and the cellulose that forms the scoby. So vigorous scoby formation during 2nd ferment needs BOTH the little oxygen you left at the top of the bottle as well as leftover nutrients from the tea. That makes me wonder if your tea concentration was a little strong. I use 6 "standard" tea bags per gallon or 3 "family-sized"/ "ice-tea sized" bags per gallon. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

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Old 06-06-2013, 07:05 PM   #3
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What's the purpose of your 3rd ferment?

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Old 06-06-2013, 09:09 PM   #4
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Because I add either fresh or crystallized ginger at the start of the secondary ferment, I have chunks of ginger floating around the batch. I want that strained out during final bottling into my smaller 12-16oz bottles.

If I wasn't adding ginger I would just strain the primary ferment directly into the smaller bottles, add a little fruit juice, then do a 2nd ferment for 3-4 days, and put 'em in the fridge. But KT without ginger and lots of bubbles is unthinkable

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Old 06-06-2013, 11:25 PM   #5
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I'm gonna have to try the ginger on my next batch, thanks for the explanation.

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Old 06-06-2013, 11:31 PM   #6
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From a guy who's never done more then empty the KT (when finished) into 16oz bottles and leave them at room temp for a couple of days before refrigerating then drinking...am I doing this wrong? Should I be adding a little fruit juice in order to carb up the bottles? How much?

Sorry if this is OT, but this whole section of the site doesn't get a lot of action ;-)

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Old 06-07-2013, 05:02 PM   #7
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Seems like a reasonable question, jbaysurfer. If you're getting carbonation during 2nd ferment then you probably have enough residual sugar left over from your primary ferment to give you the fizz you're looking for. I start with 1 cup per gallon of tea & if I don't add the fruit juice at the start of 2nd ferment I don't get much fizz in just a coupla days. I would get more fizz without fruit juice if I extended my 2nd ferment to maybe a week. Problem is that with that much extra time, the batch is continuing to get lower in pH & I don't like the taste as much.

One of my primary motivations for brewing KT at home is to control the sugar content. Commercially brewed KT and some local brewers at the farmer's market run a little sweet for my tastes. So to be clear, I'm only adding the fruit juice to kick up the carbonation a bit, hoping that most/all of the sugar from primary ferment and the fruit juice is gone by the time I drink my KT.

Here's the way I think of it, never having a true caloric analysis done on my final KT:

I start with 1 cup sugar in a gallon of brewed tea. That's equivalent to 770 calories into 16 (8oz) cups, or about 48 calories in a cup (8oz) of the sweet tea *before* primary ferment. I'm hoping almost all of that is gone after 10 days, eaten up by the yeast & bacteria.

I add 3-4oz of fruit juice per liter before 2nd ferment. The fruit juice I choose is 100% juice but not a concentrate, and it has about 90 cal in 4oz. So I start with 90 calories into a liter, which is only about 21 calories per 8oz cup.

Absolute worst case, no sugar eaten up at all, I'm in for 48 + 21 = about 70 calories per 8oz serving. But I believe almost all of the original 48 cal is gone after primary ferment, and want to believe at least half of the fruit juice is eaten during carbonation, so I hope that I'm only getting 10 cal in an 8oz serving.

Amazing what I'll do to rationalize my KT habit

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Old 06-07-2013, 05:30 PM   #8
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^ Thanks Zapped! Very thorough answer. I guess it comes down to how much residual sugar is in the KT when I bottle, and how much fizz I want. I'll start experimenting.

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Old 06-08-2013, 01:48 AM   #9
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After 3 days fermenting, I tasted what I had snapped above. It wasn't as fizzy as I would of liked it. It could of also been a little more sweeter. The flavor did come through pretty well, but at 30% it better have...

Does KT ever produce ANY head whatsoever? Or does the fizz appear just when you pour/drink it?

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Old 06-08-2013, 02:04 AM   #10
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Not a true foamy head from pouring a refrigerated KT, usually just bubbles in the glass like a commercial ginger ale or 7up/sprite soda drink. But.... if I pour it room temperature right after a long 2nd ferment it will get a thick head. Every time I decant from my 1-liter bottles (room temp post-2nd ferment) into my smaller ones (for my room temp 3rd ferment) I have have to wait for the foam to settle down before I can fill the smaller bottles.

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