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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Teas for brewing Kombucha

For the past year I have been running a fermentation group over on Facebook.  With the large number of people to share with and learn from, I have been able to compile a list of teas which people have vouched for as effective for brewing kombucha.  This list is intended to inspire the adventurous.  It is not intended to imply that teas not on this list can't work.  If you find an unlisted tea that works well for you then please visit Wild Fermentation Uncensored on Facebook and share your experience with us.  :)

Disclaimer: Sometimes a tea is reported as working well by some while not working well for others.  I believe there are a couple of reasons for this... 

  • Kombucha strain used (the exact mix of culture species and their vigor varies)
  • Differing definitions of success; success meaning vigorous scoby growth to some, while simply meaning great flavor to others. 

*Assam Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Barley Tea (Hordeum vulgare
*Black Tea, generic (including decaf) (Camellia sinensis
*Bugapoop Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Butterfly Pea Tea (Clitoria ternatea
*Cannabis Leaf Tea (Cannabis sp.) 
*Chaga Mushroom Tea (Inonotus obliquus
*Chicory Root Tea (Cichorium intybus var. sativum
*Cleavers Tea (Galium aparine
*Coffee (Coffea arabica, Coffea canephora
*Darjeeling Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Dragon Pearls Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Earl Gray Tea (flavored Camellia sinensis
*Ginger Tea (Zingiber officinale
*Green Tea, generic (including decaf) (Camellia sinensis
*Gunpowder Tea  (Camellia sinensis
*Hibiscus Flower Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa
*Hibiscus Leaf Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa
*Houjica Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Jasmine Tea (flavored Camellia sinensis
*Lapsang Souchong Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Mauby Bark Tea (Colubrina arborescens)  
*Mulberry Leaf Tea (Morus sp.) 
*Nettle Tea (Urtica dioica
*Oolong Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Pu-erh Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Raspberry Leaf Tea (Rubus idaeus
*Rooibos Tea (Red and Green) (Aspalathus linearis
*Sencha Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Tulsi Tea (Ocimum sanctum
*Turmeric Tea (Curcuma longa
*White Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis)

Additionally, I’ve heard about a number of tea blends which work successfully, but I can’t be sure if the individual ingredients in them all work if brewed separately or only in combination with the other ingredients.  The following for sure work in blends, but further feedback is needed to determine if they can be used alone when brewing kombucha.

+Blackberry Leaf (Rubus uva-ursi
+Chai (Camellia sinensis with a range of spices added) 
+Chamomile (Matricaria recutita
+Cinnamon (Cinnamomum sp.)
+Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon
+Elderberries (fruit steeped with tea and then strained prior to 1F) (Sambucus sp.) 
+Elderflowers (Sambucus sp.) 
+Lavender (Lavandula sp.) 
+Lemon (Citrus x limon
+Lemonbalm Leaf (Melissa officinalis
+Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus
+Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis
+Peppermint Leaf (Mentha × piperita
+Rose Hips (Rosa sp.) 
+Rose Petals (Rosa sp.)  
+Silver Birch Bark with Wood (Betula pendula
+Stevia Leaf (not as a substitute for real sugar) (Stevia rebaudiana
+Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)

Special thanks to contributing members from Tibetan Temple Kombucha, Kombucha Nation, and Wild Fermentation Uncensored for contributing experiences to help create this list.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Wild Flock System (Modified Multi-Sire Management)

I have never been one to do things the way people say to. This has shown itself in multiple aspects of my life. For the last seven or eight years now I have been keeping a small flock of Jacob sheep to help with land management while providing meat for the freezer, beautiful sheepskin rugs, and wool. Actually I made a tiny block of cheese this year from some Jacob milk, but that's besides the point! :) For the last few years I have been trying a system where I don't pick who gets to breed with who. All the current season ram lambs (provided they meet breed standards) get a chance to compete for breeding with the ewes before heading off to the freezer in January. For a couple years I didn't even keep a mature ram around, but this past year I changed that as I increased the size of my pasture area.  
I have been struggling to find information about this style of management as most breeders hand pick each ram for each group of ewes to be bred. I have been struggling with what to even call this style of management until recently. After a long conversation with a number of people in a sheep forum I was able to put my thoughts together and describe what exactly my system is.

Following is the "Wild Flock System" or what could also be called "Modified Multi-Sire Management".

What it is:

  • Ram(s) and ewes are kept together year round .
  • Ram lambs which meet breed standards are not separated or castrated thus allowing them a chance to breed even if they aren't a part of the permanent breeding flock. 
  • Rams in this system can be a mix of any number of mature rams + the current season's quality ram lambs, or the current season's ram lambs only in the case that space can not be afforded to keeping adult rams in addition to adult ewes in the flock.
  • A way to ensure that natural selection pressures will be supplementing artificial selection pressures from the shepherd. A dominant ram may father a greater percentage of the lambs.
  • A way to minimize having too many lambs sired by the same sire and thus slowing inbreeding in closed flocks where offspring will be kept as breeding replacements.
  • A system which involves culling any individuals which do not meet breed standards or breeder's goals.

What it is NOT:

  • A way to maintain registered sheep.
  • A way to maintain highly selected, high production commercial sheep.
  • A lack of management or selection.
  • A lack of control in other management aspects of animal husbandry.
  • Lazy or neglectful management.
  • Feral or un-managed.
  • An attack against single-sire breeding systems (they have been proven effective).
  • A way to achieve maximum uniformity between individuals.


I'm really hoping to find a community of people who are interested in this and even better if they have experience with this or something like it to share our observations and experiences with this style of management. I am not trying to promote it as anything better than the single-sire system which seems to be the norm. It is simply a different system. If you'd like to join me I've set up a small forum on Facebook to talk about this system or similar systems with sheep or other livestock to which this may apply. The forum is a group called "Wild Flock System (Modified Multi-Sire Management)"

Monday, March 7, 2016

Making Sparkling Cider or Hard Cider with Zero Specialized Equipment!


Check out this fun short video about making sparkling cider and hard cider.  If you've been intimidated by this sort of thing in the past, and thought it was too complicated then this is gonna set you free!  If you like what you see then you should pop on over to the Wild Fermentation Uncensored group on Facebook to share in the collective learning and sharing of information on all things fermented.  :)
See you there soon!