Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kosher Kombucha Culture

I'm happy to announce that I have kombucha cultures available that I synthesized from a certified kosher source, namely GT Dave's Organic Raw Kombucha, which is certified kosher-pareve by Rabbi Eli Frankel at the Kosher Certification Service of Los Angeles (see Kosherquest for more information). I'm happy to mail them out for free, as long you pay shipping costs. And please only contact me if you're a person who keeps kosher and wants to secure a culture from a certified kosher source.

Despite the fantastic rise in popularity of kombucha in recent years, I have seen nary a peep about it in kosher and Jewish forums, neither online nor in print, and believe me, I searched. I even sent a request to the people at Kosher Blog quite a while back asking them to address kombucha, in particular because it is becoming quite common for people to brew kombucha at home (and it's so expensive to buy), and as long as Kosher Blog is covering pickling, canning, home stock-making, home salami-making, and home cheese-making, I thought home kombucha-making would be quite relevant. Obviously I was a little disappointed that they didn't cover it.

So, I did my own research. I spoke with three different halachic authorities about kombucha, two of them being representatives of their respective kosher certifying agencies, namely the KSA and the KCS (previously mentioned). I understood from my conversations with these three authorities that a kombucha culture is kosher and pareve by nature. Halacha's conception of it is more similar to beer or bread yeast, than to, for instance, wine yeast or bacterial cultures for cheese (yeast (other than wine yeast) doesn't need kosher certification according to Rabbi Eidlitz at KosherQuest, see here, although the Star-K takes a more machmir stance and requires kosher supervision; although, based on the fact that all major kosher certifying agencies don't require kosher supervision for domestically brewed beers, and all beers use yeast, the logical conclusion is that yeast doesn't require kosher supervision either).

A word on the kombucha making process: Kombucha brewing is an artisanal process. The utensils and ingredients must be very clean and pure or else the scoby will be likely to get moldy. The culture is never exposed to hot temperatures, as that would kill it as well. When a batch of kombucha is starting out, the scoby, a saucer-like symbiosis of bacteria and yeast is placed in a room-temperature mixture of water, tea, and sugar (none of which require kosher certification on their own), and is left to ferment for about a week. That being said, because of the dearth of information about the kosher status of kombucha in general, I decided to provide a secure source for people seeking kosher peace of mind.

I personally started brewing kombucha over a year ago. These days, the only liquids I drink on a regular basis are water and kombucha. Why? Besides for the fact that I feel kombucha generally boosts my immune system and gives me energy (I have never been sick as long as I have consumed kombucha regularly, keineina harah) it also coincided with the sudden retreat of a virus I was experiencing prior to when I started brewing kombucha. It was nothing serious, but the virus completely subsided within two months of drinking kombucha on a daily basis.

If anyone has anything at all to add here, or if anyone feels that I was misinformed about anything, please don't hesitate to let me know. And if you want a kombucha culture that was synthesized from a certified kosher source, I'm here for you.

43 comments:

  1. Your information is very helpful and very much appreciated. I would love to get some of your kombucha culture, but I'm not sure how we might connect up.

    I'm in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY and I'm just starting to try and get some Cholev Israel kefir culture started. (I finally found some kosher kefir and I'm trying to get a colony started by using this commercial kefir as a starter.

    I had virtually no hope of finding some kosher kombucha until I read your blog.

    Now, how do we exchange information?

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  2. Wow! I was seriously just trying to figure out lately how to acquire/develop chalav yisroel kefir culture! Ok, well there's two paths you can choose from. First of all, I can tell you how to develop your own culture from a bottle of store-bought kombucha, which is a fairly simple process. The second way is for me to mail you a culture, which I would do either in a double-wrapped plastic bag or glass bottle, whichever I decide would ship best. Kombucha cultures are pretty tough and can easily make a trip from coast to coast in the mail.

    You can email me at uriel613 [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know whatever you decide. I apologize for not responding sooner, but I really didn't think anyone was reading this blog yet.

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  3. I am very interested in getting in touch with you about getting some of your kombucha culture. I had kinda given up all hope of ever being able to make kosher kombucha. I will e-mail you privately. I am psyched. I found you by doing a google search, but your blog looks awesome. I've begun feeding my family according to traditional food practioes for the past year, so I look forward to reading your other posts.
    Warmly,
    Dina

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  4. I found your blog while searching for online for a way to obtain a kombucha culture that was synthesized from a certified kosher source. How can I get some of your scoby?

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  6. I want to make amazake. It requires Koji culture, about one cup to maybe 12 cups of rice mixture. It will be at 140 degrees F for more than 24 hours. Do you or anyone else know about the kashrus of the koji cultures available to purchase? Or where to obtain a kosher culture?

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  7. Hi... Regarding koji: Since two popular products made from koji (unpasteurized, raw miso paste, and sake) do not require kosher certification (see, for example: http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-RiceNatureAnswerToHashemBlessings.htm and http://www.kosherquest.org/kq_noneneeded.php?s=40&q=noreq), it is logical to conclude that koji itself needs no kosher certification. It is, after all, simply moldy white rice.

    What kashrus issue are you concerned about?

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  8. Hi, Thanks for this great information. I'm working as mashgiach at a pre-summer program now and one of the staff wants to brew Kombucha for everyone to drink. I had no idea what she was talking about...a mother...a mushroom, and thank you for this post it now makes sense. I'm still not sure if we can use her mushroom to brew from. In the meantime thanks for this great info www.travelingrabbi.com

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  9. Did anyone ever find cholev yisroel kefir? As a home cheesemaker and long time dairy person I have been researching this issue for a couple of years. I know a couple of certifying Rabbi's in the dairy industry and give a little input on what I've discussed with them regarding kefir. Keep in mind I'm still in the research process. First of all, the Lifeway dairy stam culture is not the original "good kefir" culture we are all hearing about. It is a culture that makes a kefir like product but is not the same. The kefir culture at danlac.com that said it was OU....is not certified. I got involved in that mess a few weeks ago and OU assured me that danlac is taking down the certification from their website. Thirdly, the product that danlac was selling "was kosher" however, became non-kosher when they repackaged it in their facility in Denmark. They buy the original product from a company called danisco in Denmark. I've called, I've emailed, etc. and cannot get a response. Back to the response of the Rabbi's. The issue with kefir culture is that it has traditionally be cultured in milk and thus it presents different halachic issues than a kombucha mushroom. I'm trying to get an answer regarding straining commercially available kefir by Helios (available at Whole Foods) which is dairy stam for the crystals and the reculturing in cholev yisroel milk. It's my understanding that Helios kefir is the only one out there that has any level of hecture and is the original Russian strain. I have a 2 year old handicapped grandaughter living in Israel that is very much in need of kefir. She has a very rare autoimmune disorder. I am very much in need of a cholev yisroel source for kefir crystals. I have a Rebbetzin scouring MeaShearim to see if anyone there may have something "from the old country". Will keep you posted.

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  10. Hi, Ruchama. This was posted on the nourishingtradtionskosher yahoo group. It might be helpful to your granddaughter in Israel.

    For those that have been looking for kefir grains I thought I'd post that there is a women who has grains that have been grown in Tnuvah milk (which is Cholov Yisrael) and is willing to send out kefir grains to anyone in Jerusalem as long as they make a donation to the Jerusalem Cat Rescue.


    Her Name is Irene and you can contact her via this website.


    http://www.torontoadvisors.com/Kefir/kefir-list.php


    She is Modern Orthodox and said that she grew them in Tnuvah milk.


    Hatzlacha.

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  11. Wow, thanks! I'm very interested in getting some Kombucha cultures. I recently went on a milk free diet and I heard that kombucha is great thing to add for good bacteria. I live in Israe, by the way.

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  12. How can we know the original "mother scoby" or whatever it is called is KOSHER? It seems all sources I've found re: how to make kambucha insist one must first have a mother scoby - how does one MAKE a mother scboby? Is this the same yeast used for bread baking?

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    Replies
    1. http://youtu.be/v6NZUqTSG2c

      http://momsfrugal.blogspot.com/2008/09/kombucha-without-scoby.html

      I made mine from the mom's frugal blog spot. It requires Braggs raw apple cider vinegar and some G.T. Dave's Kombucha. My scoby developed in 10 days. I kept it in my pareve utensil closet which stays about 70 degrees. I was concerned as you rightfully are about getting from goy because you don't know if they used non kosher utensil non toiveled etc. So I woud try this recipe b/c it really costs very little and you only lost ten days if it doesn't work. The first batch will be a little more vinegar like because it starts with vinegar but when you start new batch and put your grown scoby in, things should be good. Get ph tester it should be 2.8 to 3.5 I prefer mine to be a tad less sour so 3.5 is my preference. then you can bottle it up, wait 3 more days and put in fridge. B'H this person has scoby to offer so if you are skeptical try theirs. Amazon has these geshmach fliptop bottles 12 for 19 bucks! So much fun! Good luck

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  13. Is Kamboucha kosher for passover?
    Thanks!

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  14. Hi,

    I am also looking for Passover information on Kamboucha. I have a Kamboucha "scboby"? (mushroom looking thing) in my fridge for brewing. I can't seem to find information about if I have to throw it out before Passover. I hate to toss it, but I will have to if I am not certain of it's origin before Passover.

    Many thanks for any information you may have.

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  15. I would like to obtain 2 of them, please. Please let me know how I can pay for the shipping and handling of them. Thanks!

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  16. I am interested in finding out how you synthesized them from GT Daves? Did you add some of his kombucha to some sugared tea (along with the cloudy portion of the bottle)?
    Thanks,
    G. Singer

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  17. I am hoping to get a starter SCOBY. I have been trying to get my own without success. Please let me know how I can pay for shipping and get these!

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  18. Are you still sending out kosher kombucha mothers? I'm really interested in one. Please contact me at tali3288@gmail.com

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  19. Are you still supply the cultures?

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  20. B"H
    Could you send one scoby to Zfat?
    balterok@gmail.com

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  21. Interesting hashgaha pratit to see the previous post. I made kombucha in Tsfat from 2000- '02. I wonder if there are any babies from that mother culture still around. However, I've been living in the US for quite a while now where the commercially bottled Kombucha drinks are very expensive. I would love to start brewing again. Your blog began a few years ago. Do you still send out starters? If so, I would truly appreciate receiving one. Please contact me: Ida Lewis, idale747@yahoo.com.

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  22. I would also love to know if you are sending out starters, thanks.

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  23. Hi everyone. I'm glad that there is so much interest in home brewing kombucha among my kosher brethren :) I don't ship out SCOBYs anymore, although in the interim I have started a business and one of the products I make is kombucha. We are certified kosher and organic and I am playing with the idea of selling kosher/organic SCOBYs. If I decide to do that, I will announce it here. Thank you.

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  24. Hi do you still have the culture avalible very interested but I see the post was some time ago thanks jennifer.ioele@yahoo.com

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  25. Can you send to Australia?

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  26. Dear,
    Can you ship to Spain?

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  27. can you help me get kosher scoby or tell me how to start one from scratch ?

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  28. Hi,

    I went through the comments and haven't found a response as to whether or not kombucha is kosher for passover. Are the yeasts in Kombucha grain related at all?

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  29. Are you still selling a scoby

    I'm looking to get it in Israel

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  30. I would like to get some kosher scoby. Can you send it to toronto,

    Rob

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  31. Are you selling your scoby yet? I am interested in purchasing kosher scoby.

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  32. Hey there! Still have any kosher mother? I'm living in NorCal atm and I'm interested in brewing kombucha.

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  33. Hello! I would love of you would send me some kosher scoby. How do we connect so I can pay the shipping?

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  34. can you help me get kosher scoby or tell me how to start one from scratch ?

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  35. I live in UK. my e-mail: rs@gmx.co.uk. I prefer to get instructions how to do it from a scratch and how to get hold of the mother, to get out of any halachic doubt. Thank you.

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  36. Sorry, the above e-mail address is no longer active from some reason so, the right one is rs57(at)gmx(dote)co(dote)uk. Thank you

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  37. If every mother SCOBY or even kombucha such as GT Dave's, originates from one which was created in a non kosher vessel - how can any of them actually be kosher? I'd be interested in Rabbi Eli Frankel's thinking. I am actually eager to start brewing but not 100% satisfied yet, even with the certification. Can you help?

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  38. Hi there you blog really nicely! I know Im a bit late for the party but do you have any scoby left for me? And could it be shipped to Europe? And how would I pay for postage? Thanks for your kind offer!

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  39. Hi: Wondering if you have any scoby left for me? And ship to Canada? Thanks so much.

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  40. If you still have kosher scoby, please let me know the cost for shipping and if you are charging for it.

    Thanks,

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