How to make kombucha without starter tea

  • Author: Ben
  • Date: March 18, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Kombucha is one of the most popular health beverages on the market right now and it’s not hard to see why. The drink boasts a plethora of health benefits from improving gut health to banishing brain fog. Various elements must be used in the production of kombucha, including starter tea. But, what happens if you don’t have any starting tea? How do you produce kombucha then? Keep reading to find out, as I take you on a step-by-step guide on how to brew kombucha without a starter tea.

Getting Started

To brew kombucha without the use of a starter tea, you need some sort of sugary beverage to provide the bacteria with something to feed on because sugar is an essential component of the kombucha brewing process.

However, if you’re looking to do something slightly unconventional and brew your ‘booch without tea, then a tiny bit of vinegar or spicy sauce is likely to be the most effective.

In terms of which vinegar you should use, apple cider vinegar is the most popular option with most brewsters.

Apple cider vinegar makes for a great substitute because it has a wide range of health advantages, not just for your stomach but for the rest of your body as well. In fact, it has similar properties to brewed kombucha but without a sweet taste.

Because of the inherent healing qualities of vinegar, you will be able to obtain even more benefit from what is already a naturally healthy beverage.

If you are unable to get vinegar, your next best choice is to buy a bottle of unflavored kombucha from the shop and substitute it.

Second Fermentation

While you can use a bottle of unflavored store-bought kombucha to get started, unpasteurized or raw SCOBY can work just as well. The next part of the brewing process is what’s referred to as the second fermentation.

At this point, your beverage should be fully independent of both the parent SCOBY and the primary brewing vessel. This means that it’s ready for flavoring.

Here are the steps to follow for this part:

  • Fill a clean glass jar halfway with the kombucha from the bottle. A quart-sized jar will do just fine for this project.
  • Seal the jar with some gauze or a micron filter (or any fabric, really) and tighten it down using an elastic band or a canning ring to prevent it from opening. This is simply to prevent bugs as well as other foreign objects from getting into your brew while still letting it breathe. It is a live creature, after all.
  • For best results, let it remain on your countertop for a couple of weeks, till a white film forms on the surface. Avoid jostling it to keep it from sinking because you may have to start all over again if you sink it.
  • The film will proceed to thicken while it rests on your counter for an extended period. As soon as it’s approximately a quarter-inch thick, it’s ready to use.

Is it Necessary to Use Starter Tea in Kombucha?

If you check out online kombucha recipes you’ll notice that they always require you to add 2 cups of starting tea to a sweet tea base at the start of every brewing cycle.

This “starter tea” is simply a small amount of leftover kombucha from your previous brew that is intended to spark the start of the current brew.

When making a fresh batch of kombucha, it’s important to use starter tea to get the fermentation started. It helps to raise the acidity of the brew at an early stage to aid in the prevention of mold development and other contaminants.

The kombucha becomes acidic somewhere during the brewing process. This helps in fighting off any foreign objects including molds and bacteria. The starter tea is important as it helps to give some acidity to the kombucha to prevent it from being contaminated.

Aside from that, the starting tea has a high concentration of live yeasts and bacteria that are responsible for the fermentation process and provide the tea with its probiotic properties.

Although many people believe that the bacteria and yeast referred to as the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) are responsible for the jiggly substance that rises to the surface of the fermenting kombucha, that disc is actually a ring of sugars produced by the SCOBY itself.

Much of the SCOBY is floating about in the kombucha, similar to how soup would be made.

Conclusion: How to make kombucha without starter tea

Although kombucha requires the use of a starter tea, you can use unflavored kombucha or distilled white vinegar in its place if you don’t have starter tea on hand. This works the same way as starter tea and gives excellent results. I hope you found this guide on how to make kombucha without starter tea helpful.


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