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Old 04-02-2008, 11:22 PM   #1
Jan 2008
Posts: 145

So, I know I've seen threads about harvesting yeast from bottle conditioned beers, but for the life of me I can't find the relevant threads using the search, so sorry if this has already been posted.

Anyway, this isn't exactly about beer, but I think you beer brewers would know the most about this. I've come across this asian drink called "Kombucha", which, from what I can tell, is sweetened tea fermented into vinegar. I'm in love with the stuff and want to make it myself. Problem is, I don't know where to buy the yeast. Luckily for me, the local health food store sells bottled Kombucha which contains chunks of the yeast cake (or SCOBY as the kombucha brewers call it ie Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). The bottle says that the strands of culture are "live and raw," so i think there's hope in harvesting them (it is carbed, so I think it's been bottle conditioned). Do you guys have any hints on how I could go about this? I'm thinking I'll dilute it in a 1/2 gallon jug and add some table sugar (from what I can tell, this is the type of sugar used in most kombucha recipes). Then I'll give it a few days to proliferate with some foil over the top. I'll then use this as a starter for a 5 gallon batch. So a few things:

1) Can you recommend any exact numbers on how much sugar and water should be in the starter?
2) Is my procedure for harvesting the yeast correct?


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Old 04-03-2008, 01:19 AM   #2
anderj's Avatar
Dec 2007
Boise, ID
Posts: 331
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I think making kombucha is pretty easy and I don't know that I would make a 5 gal batch. Most people have a small pyrex bowl (3l or so) and keep re-using the mother mushroom.
Unless you are drinking 5 gal every two weeks save your carboys for beer.
also plenty of how-to pages on the web


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Old 04-03-2008, 03:23 AM   #3
WBC's Avatar
Jun 2007
La Puente, CA, California
Posts: 2,164
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Try these links:

Fermentor 1: Bill's House Ale II, Fermentor 2: German Helles, Fermentor 3: Bill's Schworzbier (Black Bier)
Tap 1: Bill's House Ale II, Tap 2: German Hefewizen, Tap 3: Nut Brown Ale
Future Brews: Stone IPA Clone, Blonde Ale, Budvar Clone, Newcastle Clone
New toy: Blichmann 27 gallon fermentor

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Old 04-03-2008, 03:34 AM   #4
PseudoChef's Avatar
Apr 2007
West Chicago 'Burbs, IL
Posts: 3,406
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Here's another one:


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Old 04-03-2008, 04:20 AM   #5
BakerStreetBeers's Avatar
Feb 2008
Petaluma, CA
Posts: 307
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I cultured my own kombucha for a while starting with a culture i ordered online. If you make beer, kombucha is a piece of cake. I'd like to start again and would definitely try what you suggest rather than spending money on the "mother mushroom". The links suggested above will probably provide a good baseline recipe for your culture -- it's basically brewed tea with a substantial dose of sugar in it. Just use the dregs from a bottle of "live" kombucha (or a whole bottle for that matter) instead of the "mother mushroom" most recipes call and I think you'll have great results. I was doing a gallon batches in jars, keeping them in rotation (it takes 2-3 weeks to culture a batch) and was very happy with the end product.

I've also seen kombucha cultures offered for free on craigslist from time to time. If you make it regularly you will have plenty of starter material to spare.

Since I've taken up homebrewing again, I've though about a hybridized beer/kombucha beverage. Feed a kombucha culture beer wort instead of sweet tea
(the culture does produce a bit of alcohol)? Or feed a healthy ale yeast starter to a partially cultured batch of kombucha?

Thanks for reminding me I need to do this. Kombucha is great stuff!
Primary: Apfelwein
Secondary: nada
Kegged: African Amber Clone
On Tap: Dunkelweizen, Strong Irish Red
On Deck: Agave Wit, DC's RyePA, Belgian Blonde

"Ale man, ale's the stuff to drink / For fellows whom it hurts to think."
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Old 12-11-2009, 05:22 AM   #6
Dec 2009
St. Paul, MN
Posts: 1

I am currently growing a SCOBY from one 16 oz bottle of non-flavored kombucha i bought at the grocery store. I put it in a container with 1 cup of tea and a tablespoon of sugar and covered it with a breathable cloth. It has been about a week and I can definitely tell the SCOBY is growing, just really slow. If i were to do it again I would probably add more tea and sugar. It is def. taking longer than buying a culture online, but it's cheaper.

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Old 12-23-2009, 10:22 PM   #7
Kass_Brauhaus's Avatar
Jan 2009
Arvada, Colorado
Posts: 204
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Anyone tried making a Kombucha/beer hybrid? I'd like to give it a shot.
Andy Kass
Braukursteilnehmer des Kass Brauhauses

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Old 12-25-2009, 07:25 PM   #8
Nov 2008
Posts: 234
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I started Komucha by drinking half a bottle of plain 'buch' then filling it with a little sweet tea, tape a napkin on top, and let it sit. A small scoby should form. When it does move it to a bigger jar, and fill it up with more Tea, and repeat. The scoby will grow to the size of the container, so just keep propagating it. You can't propagate too fast though, as you have to keep the ph low to keep infections out. If you are propagating, I would say you could double the size every 1.5-2 weeks.

I've never heard of a kombucha/beer hybrid. But essentially all it needs is sugar, so you could probably take a little fresh wort, and use it in place of the Tea. Although I know hops is an antibacterial, so it may interfere. Maybe take some wort from a brown or porter, and boil it with some black tea, no hops. I sure aren't going to try it, but maybe someone else is brave enough.

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