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What is kombucha?
Kombucha (or “Bucha”) is a variety of lightly effervescent, tangy, fermented tea that has been consumed for over 2,000 years for its many health benefits. Named the “Elixir of Life,” it is typically served cold and has been used medicinally. A small glass every day or two is ideal to really feel it’s positive effects. Growing in popularity, it is common to find commercially brewed kombucha in health stores. using organic ingredients and flavored with a variety of fruits, herbs and vegetables.
What is the history of kombucha?
There is a lot of uncertainty as to the origins of kombucha but many believe that it has been traced back to Northeastern China in 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty. It was initially coveted for its healing properties and called the “Elixir of Life,” and consumed by young, old, rich and poor.It’s name is said to be derived from a Dr. Kombu, a Kore an physician who brought kombucha to Japan. Eventually the tea was brought to Europe as a result of trade route expansions and became popular in Russia (as “Kambucha”) and Germany (as “Kombuchaschwamm”). In the early 1990’s kombucha’s popularity in the North American markets grew substantially and while relatively still unknown, it was consumed by fermentation enthusiasts, DIYers, back to nature communities. Wherever it travelled to, kombucha was getting a reputation for curing problems with digestion (everything from hemorrhoids to constipation) to rheumatism.Fast forward to today where kombucha can be found in most health food stores, grocery stores, yoga studios and breweries. This once unknown health drink is now gaining popularity and many are deciding that they can brew it themselves at home. This evolving need is the foundation of which Brew Your Bucha was born.
How is kombucha made?
Kombucha is derived from fermenting tea, sugar, and water. Tea being one of the world’s most popular beverages is readily available and accessible by all socioeconomic classes; it is a staple in the kombucha brewing process. The combination of a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (‘SCOBY’), starter fluid and sweet tea left to ferment for a period of time (typically seven to ten days) will result in a semi-sweet/tart beverage called kombucha. Many enjoy flavouring their kombucha with various herbs, fruits, flowers and/or spices before allowing the concoction to ferment for an additional three to five days, where the flavours can enhance the flavour of the kombucha and natural carbonation can develop.
What does kombucha taste like?
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is effervescent and has a tangy profile with light sweetness. It is acidic, so many people describe it as vinegary like apple cider vinegar. Think cold vinegar tea. Sound appealing to you? maybe not, but the taste grows on you. Especially when you hear the ways it can benefit your health.
The taste changes from bottle to bottle depending on the tea and water that is used, the brewer’s technique and recipe. Keep in mind that we are simply talking about raw kombucha in its most pure state.
Now throw in the next complication: the second fermentation.
This is where brewers will add flavor to the kombucha utilizing fruit, spices, flowers, herbs and any other creative combinations they can imagine. As a result, the end product has a wide range of flavors that suit your preferences. So as we like to often do, will over analyse our favorite drink and give you a better idea of what goes in to each brew.
Like grapes are essential to wine, tea is of equal importance to kombucha. There are many strains of teas from all over the world and each one presents a unique twist to the palate. Green tea is used in many brews but the most common is black tea.
Black tea has a bold earthy flavor that leaves a dry finish in your mouth. This is the same in kombucha. Best paired with complimentary spices, fruits and flavors, you will often find a bottle of ginger or blueberry and cinnamon black tea kombucha in your local grocery store.
Green tea is lighter in color and flavor and tastes more grassy and floral. Tropical fruits and floral extracts such as peach and lavender mix nicely with green tea kombucha.
While uncommon, white tea can be used as well. White tea is minimally processed and not oxidized, this means that it retains it’s natural antioxidants, but does not develop as much flavor, color, or caffeine. Sweet or flowery flavors are characteristic.
A key element to the production of kombucha, sugar is food for the culture and the fermentation process. Much of the sugar is consumed by the culture and the end product only contains trace amount of the sugar that remains. Organic or white sugar is usually used and wont contribute to a material difference in taste.
The way that the kombucha culture (SCOBY) ferments the sweet tea will affect the flavor of the kombucha. Brewers will tweak their recipe to increase or decrease the fermentation time given their environmental conditions (temperature, quality of water). If the fermentation time is too short, the kombucha will taste sharp, sweeter and flat of carbonation. If fermented too long the kombucha tastes strongly of vinegar and can be off putting to some. The perfect fermentation time is subjective as each person has their opinion of what is an ideal taste and mouth feel.
In my opinion, this aspect of kombucha is the most interesting. Brewers have the ability to be creative, mixing fruit, herbs, flowers and spices to pair perfectly with all of the components of discussed above. What flavors go best with a strain of black tea with bold and spicy characteristics? Or, is it more important to brew the perfect raw kombucha and leave flavoring light to let the natural flavors shine?
Each kombucha brew is as unique as the brewer and the person drinking it. This makes each sip of kombucha exciting. Kombucha evolves with each brew you make. Minor adjustments further perfect your craft.
What are the benefits are drinking kombucha and home brewing?
Kombucha has been called the “Elixir of Life” and “Tea of Immortality” because of its many health benefits and it is quite simple to brew this amazing beverage in the comfort of your own home. It contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics and a tasty flavour to boot. Kombucha has seen a resurgence in popularity amongst the health conscious crowds. You would be hard pressed to find scientific studies about the health benefits of kombucha; however, millions of kombucha lovers world-wide over the millennia can’t be wrong can they? Some of the benefits claimed from consuming kombucha include:
- Increased energy levels
- Improved digestion and gut health
- Better mood (helps with anxiety/depression)
- Beneficial for weight loss
- Boosted immunity
Brewing at home isn’t only a great way to ensure you have a great tasting and healthy beverage always on hand, but you can save a lot of money in doing so. Many kombucha lovers have the impression that brewing kombucha is complex and requires a lot of time and effort; however, they are shocked to learn how simple and cost effective it can be to do it themselves!
After getting the necessary brewing equipment, we estimate that you can brew a bottle of kombucha (similar size as one bought commercially) for approximately $0.25 – $0.75 cents depending on the flavor ingredients you use. As a result of the production of baby scoby while brewing, your production of kombucha can be unlimited, which is another reason many kombucha homebrewers love managing their own cultures. Let’s get down to business and discuss what you need to brew kombucha.
What brewing equipment do I need?
The brewing equipment used for brewing kombucha can be found at many of your local grocery stores which makes it very accessible for anyone to begin brewing at home. The essential equipment will ensure you have a healthy brew, while the accessories are nice to have and will improve your ability to make kombucha on a regular basis.
- Consider your brewing vessel a home for your SCOBY and just like your home, you want to ensure it is safe for your brew. There are many options to consider when choosing a brewing vessel, but not all are appropriate for kombucha brewing:
- Glass - considered to be the best option as it can be easily sanitized and does not contain harmful chemicals typically known to leach (such as BPA). You can also find them at many of your local home goods stores relatively inexpensively. One of the most common brew vessels is a 1 gallon or 4 litre jar, while larger brewing jars can be found for those that want to have larger brewing capacities.
- Metal - Unlike beer which can be brewed in a metal brew vessel, kombucha although it ferments, contains a living organism (SCOBY), which can be affected when it is stored or comes in contact with metal. It isn’t recommended to be used while brewing.
- Plastic - Similar to glass jars, plastic jugs or jars are quite inexpensive and can be readily found at your local home goods store; however, due to the fact that plastic contains various chemicals, it is unknown whether the chemicals can adversely affect the health of your SCOBY. Additionally, as the SCOBY ferments, the chemical reactions within your brew may compromise the integrity of your plastic brew vessel and may cause the chemicals to leach into your brew. It is not recommended to brew with plastic.
Brewing Vessel Cover
- As a living organism, a SCOBY must have access to oxygen; therefore,, a covering that seals it away from air is detrimental to its health while brewing. Your SCOBY needs to “breathe” while fermenting. Many kombucha brewers use various types of covers, such as coffee filters, napkins, muslin cloth or cloth towel and all are effective for brewing. They help keep little pests like fruit flies out of your brew and also permit enough oxygen to enter the brew to continue the fermentation process. The best way to secure the cover is with a simple rubber band or twine.
- A key element to brewing kombucha is temperature. Your SCOBY is greatly affected by temperature; too cold and it will become dormant, and too hot and it will furiously ferment. It is crucial to maintain a good brewing temperature (to be discussed further below); otherwise, the health of your SCOBY and brew may be compromised. Therefore, using a self-adhesive temperature strip, a thermometer, or other temperature reading device will ensure you are regulating temperature appropriately.
Airtight Fermentation Bottles
- Many kombucha lovers enjoy its crisp fizzy flavour; therefore, it is essential to have an airtight seal on your brew while in the second fermentation process. Without swing top bottles (similar to beer bottles) or amber bottles with phenolic polycone caps, the carbonation which develops in kombucha during the second fermentation process will be lost. It is recommended that bottles with a tint or colored bottles (i.e., amber, blue, etc) be used as clear bottles permit light to enter the brew and degrade the light sensitive kombucha.
Tea Filters and/or Tea Ball
- We recommend brewing kombucha with loose leaf tea, so a pack of tea filters is a great to save time from having to strain your sweet tea. They are great because they are biodegradable and you don’t need to clean a tea ball. Alternatively, if you want to save yourself from buying tea filters on a regular basis, a metal tea ball or steeper is a great option.
- During the first fermentation process, your brew will develop yeast strands which may end up in your second fermentation process, unless you use a strainer to catch all of the strands.
- Brewing kombucha is somewhat of a science experiment and each brew may be a little bit different each time due to a number of factors (i.e., amount/type of tea and/or sugar, temperature, brew time, etc); therefore, documenting your notes on the side of the jar is a great way to see the variables that affected your brew quality.
- Kombucha is a naturally acidic beverage; however, as time progresses, it will become more acidic due to naturally fermenting. Depending on the acidity level, it may be considered appropriate to consume or not. Kombucha which is consumed should have a pH level of around 3.
What ingredients to I need to home brew?
There are five primary ingredients in the kombucha brewing process: water, sugar, tea, start fluid (raw kombucha/vinegar) and a kombucha SCOBY (otherwise called a SCOBY mother, mushroom, and/or starter culture). Although these ingredients by themselves are readily available, once combined, each component plays a key role in the fermentation process; therefore, it is important to select the type of water, tea and sugar that is appropriate for kombucha brewing. Since the SCOBY is a living organism that requires properly maintaining a certain level of acidity, significant fluctuations in temperature or exposure to contaminants can result in mold and other forms of unhealthy bacteria. By appropriately combining these ingredients and monitoring the pH level of your brew, it is likely you will have a healthy SCOBY which produces amazing tasting kombucha! Now that you know the main ingredients, let’s get into the nitty gritty details of each:
Water that is free of contaminants, which may include fluoride, chlorine, and certain minerals, can impact the overall environment which the SCOBY will exist in, it is imperative to use filtered water. Distilled water can also be used in the kombucha brewing process.
When making kombucha, it may seem that a significant amount of sugar is used; however, the majority of the sugar is consumed in the brewing process. The SCOBY consumes the sugar and the by-product is a vitamin, mineral and enzyme rich beverage which is both acidic and fizzy. As the sugar is broken down, carbon dioxide results which causes the liquid to become fizzy and less sweet. The final result of the first fermentation process, which is raw kombucha has a fraction of the sugar per serving relative to the amount added during the start of the brew. If left to continue the fermentation process, almost all of the sugar is converted into acid and carbon dioxide. Although there are various types of sugar in your local grocery store, not all are ideal for brewing kombucha.
Organic Cane Sugar
Cane sugar is traditionally the most commonly used when brewing kombucha because it is easily broken down by the acidity in the brew. Once broken down, it is more easily consumed by the SCOBY resulting in a more consistent pH level and healthier environment for the SCOBY. A consistent pH level will decrease the likelihood of developing mold. One caveat when using cane sugar is that non-organic cane sugar may have been exposed to pesticides, resulting in a potentially harmful environment for your SCOBY. It is recommend that organic cane sugar is used when brewing kombucha to reduce the risk of contamination.
Honey has been used as a substitute for organic cane sugar and adds a slightly different flavor profile to your brew. However, incorporating raw honey into the brewing process may expose your SCOBY to bacteria or other contaminants. It is recommend that pasteurized honey be used during the first fermentation process to mitigate this risk.
Loose leaf teas, such as black, green, white, pekoe, and oolong are used to brew kombucha because of their level of minerals and nitrogen. Using organic tea when brewing helps ensure your SCOBY isn’t exposed to pesticides and other chemicals/additives. Although you can use various types of tea, our favourite types of tea are:
We use Organic Ceylon black tea, traditionally used as the base for many kombucha brewers, because of the levels of nitrogen which helps the SCOBY ferment the sweet tea. Additionally, it is considered one of the best teas to maintain a consistent pH level, which helps keep your SCOBY healthy and happy. Depending on the type of black tea you use, you may get various flavour profiles such as oaky, smoky, deep earthly, woody, and fruity. We don’t recommend brewing kombucha with teas that have oils, such as pre-flavored tea from David’s Tea, Earl Grey, and chai tea. These may adversely impact your SCOBY and the pH levels of your brew.
Green tea, such as Sencha and Jasmine are both popular amongst brewers for their light, and nutty flavours. Additionally, they include the necessary nutrients and nitrogen similar to black tea that are great for SCOBY health. Although green teas tend to ferment faster than black tea, it is not as ideal as black tea for the fermentation process since the level of nutrients are not as concentrated. If you choose to brew with green tea, we recommend using Jasmine loose leaf tea, especially if you are drinking your kombucha raw. The light flavour profile is crisp and light. You will also notice that your kombucha after being fermented has a lighter color than kombucha brewed with black tea.
The smooth floral taste of white teas has increased in popularity amongst new and experienced kombucha brewers. White tea is typically blended with black and/or green tea to enhance the overall tea flavor in the final brew. We typically find a ratio of 40%/60% (white/black) or 30%/70% (white/green) blend to be our favourite.
OTHER TEA (HERBAL AND PRE-MIXED TEA BLENDS, ETC)
It is best to consider blending herbal teas with black tea to ensure your SCOBY gets the necessary nutrients, and nitrogen. This will also help ensure your SCOBY remains at the appropriate pH level which is very important while brewing. Since many types of herbal teas contain oils and additives, your SCOBY may be adversely impacted resulting in an undrinkable batch of bucha. If you choose to use herbal teas or flavoured teas, it is important to monitor your SCOBY and brew on a regular basis. If you think your brew may have taken a turn for the worse, it’s best to discard your brew and start over.
CONCLUSION: THE BEST TEA FOR YOUR BREW
As a kombucha home brewer, you have limitless options on the blends that you use to make your tea. We have tested various blends ourselves (see recipes) and some have turned out well and some haven’t. The great thing is that you can keep trying various mixes to meet every discerning palate. Give them a shot and let us know what you think is best!
What is a SCOBY? And how do I take care of it?
A Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY or culture) is one of the key components to producing kombucha. A healthy and happy SCOBY will not only provide you with many brews of kombucha, but also give you a limitless supply of baby SCOBY.
To begin brewing kombucha, you’ll need a healthy SCOBY, which can be obtained in a variety of ways:
- Growing your own scoby from raw kombucha
- Getting one from a friend
- Purchasing one
Growing a SCOBY
Raw kombucha contains bits of the yeast and bacteria from the SCOBY mother, therefore, your brew will continue fermenting after the SCOBY is removed from the brew. In many cases, this is why bottling your kombucha and placing it in the fridge is required to slow the fermenting process. As a result, if you were to allow your raw kombucha to continue to ferment, it is likely that a new SCOBY will form. You can purchase a bottle of raw kombucha from your local grocery store and add it to some sweet tea to grow your own SCOBY. This can take some time and the results may vary depending on the amount of yeast and bacteria that remain in the bottle of raw kombucha you purchase.
SCOBY from a friend
In many cases, if you have friends or family that brew kombucha it is likely that they will have more SCOBIES than they can handle. You could ask around to see if anyone is generous enough to give you a healthy SCOBY from their brew. Ensure that you have enough starter fluid (raw kombucha) (about 1 cup) from their original brew that can be used to start the fermentation process. It is recommended that you use the same tea that the original SCOBY was brewed in to ensure that it is accustomed to the environment that the tea creates after the sweet tea is brewed.
Purchasing a SCOBY
Given the accessibility to freshly packaged SCOBIES online, it is simple to purchase a healthy SCOBY from a reputable source. It is best to buy a fresh SCOBY that is packaged with strong starter fluid. It is the most convenient way to start brewing right away. The starter fluid will help maintain the appropriate pH level when it is added to the sweet tea which will prevent mold from developing in your brew. Some shops offer dehydrated SCOBIES, but the success rate in rehydrating and successfully brewing kombucha isn’t worth the trouble. Additionally, you will need to wait for the SCOBY to rehydrate before it can start brewing kombucha.
Novice and veteran kombucha brewers alike have questions about whether their culture is healthy; here are some tips to check whether it is healthy or not:
Common Variations of SCOBY
Each batch of kombucha will be unique as a result different factors, such as temperature, type of tea and/or sugar, duration of fermentation, size of SCOBY, size of jar, etc. Your SCOBY may react differently to each of these components which could impact its health. It is common that your SCOBY will have one or more of the following variations:
- Growth – if you continue to use the same SCOBY to brew, it will grow to the same diameter of the brew jar. However, it may not grow uniformly and some sides may grow thicker than others.
- Babies – your original culture may be “fertile” and reproduce to form a baby. Baby SCOBY tend to appear as a film on the surface of your brew and thicken over time. It may fuse to your original SCOBY; however, if your brew jar is disturbed it may separate which does not impact your brew. If you allow your baby to grow, you can separate it from the original SCOBY and use this in a separate brew jar to increase your brewing capacity.
- ‘Floaters’ – brown/dark yellow strands may form and attach to the SCOBY, which is completely normal. If these strands break off from the SCOBY and become sediment at the bottom of the brew jar, you can strain them out before your second ferment. These are byproducts of the yeast culturing the sweet tea.
Position – your SCOBY may float, hover in the middle of the brew jar, or sink to the bottom. It may also stay verticle or lay horizontally; however, these don’t indicate whether your SCOBY is healthy or not. Your SCOBY may be reacting to the conditions of your brew including the humidity level of the area in which it resides.
How do I know if my SCOBY is healthy?
Primary health concerns for your culture can include mold, inactivity, and contamination from bugs/pests. These concerns are uncommon if you follow the instructions in our Learn to Brew page; however, if they do occur, here are the signs:
- Mold – typically, mold develops if the culture is exposed to contaminates and/or is not cultured at the appropriate pH levels (between 2.5 and 4.0). If you use the appropriate types of water, tea, and sugar, the starter fluid typically is acidic enough to prevent the development of mold. Indications of mold will be a formation of black, white, green, and/or red spots on your SCOBY or on the inside of the brew jar. In many circumstances, the mold will also look fuzzy, similar to what you would see on moldy cheese. If mold develops, the most common cause is forgetting to use the correct amount of ingredients or forgetting one altogether. Some other potential causes of mold developing are:
- mold spores already in tea used for kombucha brewing
- improperly sanitized equipment and utensils while brewing
- handling the SCOBY with contaminated utensils or unsanitized hands
- mold spores in the air around the brew jar
- brewing your kombucha too close to other fermented foods
If you see mold developing, dispose of the entire brew (including the culture) and restart your brew with a new SCOBY & sanitized utensils and jar.
- Inactivity – During the brew process, your sweet tea will begin to smell like vinegar; this is the result of the culture converting your brew into kombucha. After a few days, you can smell or taste your brew to determine if your SCOBY is making your kombucha; if not, then you will need to assess whether the location of your brew is too cool. If you move your brew to a warmer location or wrapping it in a towel, this may help your SCOBY stay active.
Bugs/Pests – Ants, fruit flies, and other insects are attracted to your sweet tea and kombucha; therefore, it is very important to properly secure a cloth cover or cheese cloth to the mouth of your brew jar. This will help prevent them from coming into contact with your brew. If fruit flies or house flies come in contact with your brew, they may infest your SCOBY with maggots. Discard your entire brew if there is any indication of contamination. Restart your brew with a new healthy culture and thoroughly sanitized utensils and jar.
What temperature should I brew my kombucha?
The ideal kombucha brewing temperature is room temperature, which is about 23 °C or 73 °F, which leads to a 7 day brewing period. However, if the room temperature is too hot or too cold, it can greatly affect the fermentation and final product. This is why it is crucial to place a temperature strip on your brew jar in order to keep track of your temperature. Fortunately, all of our kits come with everything needed to track your kombucha brewing temperature.
Bacteria generally love warmer temperatures and become more active as the degrees increase. Consequently, a kombucha fermentation in a room that is too hot will lead to a much quicker fermentation process. This can cause problems because it can be extremely difficult to control flavours if the bacteria work too quickly. In the case of kombucha, this can lead to kombucha that either tastes too sweet or, more commonly, too sour. This happens because the bacteria eat glucose quicker in warmer temperatures, which will make your kombucha taste more like vinegar.
If you find your room to be too hot, try to find the darkest place in your home to ferment. Moreover, you can wrap a moist towel around the brew jar and even use a fan to cool down your brew. Just remember to keep track of the temperature, so your brew doesn’t get too cold.
On the other side, colder temperatures slow down microorganisms, which also slows down the fermentation process. Consequently, this can lead to a higher chance of mould developing in your kombucha, which presents some serious health risks. One solution for brewing in a cold room is to use an electrically heated blanket. Simply adjust the blanket to the desired temperature and place it under the brewing jar. This solution is great because the electric blanket does not carry much fire risk and can be adjusted to your desired temperature in conjunction with a temperature strip.
Finally, if you’re brewing in a room that is either too hot or too cold, it is important to taste your brew to determine where it is in the fermentation process and adjust the times as needed.
Your SCOBY and kombucha hate sunlight. Thus, it is crucial that you store your fermentation in a dark place devoid of any sunlight. According to The Probiotic Jar: “Lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB) (the bacteria that do the work of fermentation) flourish in the dark, and light kills them.” If you place your fermenting brew in direct sunlight, there’s a good chance that the UV rays will kill the helpful bacteria, which will kill the fermentation process and lead to mould growth. If it is difficult to find a location that doesn’t have any sunlight, wrap your brewing jar in a thick towel that can block any harmful UV rays.
What pH level should my kombucha be at?
If you are a novice to kombucha brewing or if you are trying different variations of ingredients, it is recommended to test the pH level of your brew. Your kombucha should fall in the pH range of 2.5 and 4.0 prior to consumption; this will provide you with some comfort in knowing your brew is at the appropriate acidity to taste. If it falls outside of the range, you can wait a little longer and retest. Although it is uncommon for a batch to fail, you may want to consider disposing of the batch and restarting.
How much caffeing is in kombucha?
One of the most frequently asked questions is how much caffeine is in kombucha. Kombucha & caffeine are synonymous with one another given that tea contains caffeine. However, the amount of caffeine content in each cup may be significantly different based on these factors:
- Type of Tea: Black tea typically has the most amount of caffeine (60 – 90mg). This is followed by green (35 – 70mg), white (30 – 55mg), decaf (2 – 4mg), and herbal tea (0mg). This is in comparison to coffee which is 150 – 200mg per 8oz cup. You will find the caffeine content increases with the quality of the tea.
- Steeping time: The longer you steep your tea, the more caffeine that can be extracted from the tea leaves. You will find the flavour to also be stronger the longer you steep your tea.
Caffeine is suggested to have many health benefits, such as lowering the risks of Alzheimer’s and liver cancer, improve cognitive abilities, and decrease fatigue. If you are looking to enjoy a less caffeinated beverage relative to pure steeped tea or coffee, kombucha is a great alternative. Compared to the tea that is used for brewing kombucha, approximately 1/3 to 1/4 of the caffeine remains in the final product.
REDUCING CAFFEINE IN KOMBUCHA
Individuals with high blood pressure, pregnant women, or young adults, may be sensitive to caffeine. Kombucha has been known to be a healthy alternative to traditional soft drinks or other beverages. There are some ways in which the caffeine levels can be reduced to be suitable for those who require even less caffeine in their kombucha.
BREW WITH A BLENDED TEA
Black tea has higher concentration of caffeine; using a blended tea such as green and white will help reduce the initial amount of caffeine in your tea. You can also determine the perfect blend for your needs by experimenting with various combinations of tea. You may want to try 50% black and 50% green on your first batch and then reduce the ratio of black tea over time. If you do decide to use herbal teas, it isn’t recommended to use teas that have been flavoured. The oils blended with the teas can harm your SCOBY.
STEEP AND DISCARD YOUR INITIAL BATCH OF TEA
Steep your tea once for a few minutes and discard it before you make your sweet tea. This process will help reduce the amount of caffeine in your brew by up to 75%. The caffeine in the tea blend will be left in your initial batch, whereas the leaves remaining will have a lower concentration of caffeine.
CONTINUE TO BREW FOR LONGER
You can leave your brew to ferment a couple days longer than you would typically let it ferment, so the caffeine levels decrease. Although this may make the flavour profile a bit different than if you remove the SCOBY once the initial brew is done, the levels of caffeine will be less. The longer you allow your brew to ferment, the less the caffeine concentration will be.