The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter Experiments: Kombucha

teaman4077's picture

Starter Experiments: Kombucha

Hi all,

I recently created my first Sourdough starter.  I've been fermenting various things for a while and tackled sourdough late November.  I started two starters.  One using a more traditional method on another site, and another in which I used active kombucha (a fermented tea that uses a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, like sourdough) for the initial hydration of the white flour, and afterwards used water.

Needless to say the Kombucha starter took of quickly, it doubles in less than 12 hours and has a pungent aroma, I've made a few loves of bread with it and they have all been well formed, flavorful and chewy, though the sour flavor is far to mild for my preference.  I've been using a no-knead recipe that calls for a 18 hr ferment, so it sits out overnight and gets baked the next day.

But I have questions.  Is this legitimate sourdough?  Will the culture eventually develop a more sour flavor?

I welcome all suggestions, thanks.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Not all baked goods leavened with sourdough culture taste sour.  Hard to say if it will make sour tasting bread with time.

dabrownman's picture

starter and it will not be sour.  It is a natural cultivated yeast though.  I've never gotten any sour from YW and it is known not to be sour which makes it the perfect replacement for commercial yeast where sour is not wanted.

If you want sour you need to cultivate a SD starter which you have aready done.  I keep both for their different characteristics and YW will lift heavy doughs that SD struggles with raising to new highs.

When both are used in combination can give you the best of both natural yeast worlds.  I posted a combo bread today that was 50% of each for levain and 50% whole grain.  It is fun to have and use both s0 the combinations are endless.

Happy baking!

Laurentius's picture

Hi teaman,

Kombucha, is not a tea in the sense of a earth grown plant, but a dried seaweed, used as a base for most Japanese soups and stocks. You probably can use dried teas and herbs, since they will attract various molds and yeasts. Keep us informed on your adventures in making cultures.

teaman4077's picture

"Kombucha 昆布茶, "seaweed tea", is a beverage brewed from dried and powderedkombu. This is sometimes confused with the unrelated English word kombucha, an incorrect yet accepted neologism for the fermented and sweetened tea from Russia, which is called kōcha kinoko (紅茶キノコ) in Japan." compliments of wikipedia.

I had not heard of the seaweed tea before you mentioned it here, its interesting.  The kombucha I refer to is the kind made with a sweetened tea.  It is a live culture in which bacteria and yeast coexist.  It is started from a mother culture, the tea won't begin to ferment by mere exposure, but requires a starter with the appropriate microorganisms.  The finished product is a non-alcoholic beverage that is sweet, vinegary or acidic, and often carbonated and flavored with fruit.  The blend of the yeast and the bacteria along with the byproduct of the sour acid is why I thought it might make a decent sourdough starter.

lumos's picture

Just to correct a tiny misconception about Japanese Kombucha:   Kombucha IS tea.  It's true that some recipes on Japanese cooking suggest using  Kombucha (昆布茶)as base/stock, but it is not its primary use but is just a short-cut/alternative, 'instant' stock powere in place for dashi, proper stock which is made from the same seaweed, Kombu (kelp),  and often with dried bonito.  Trust me. I'm Japanese. ;)

teaman4077's picture

ok, sorry your right.  When I wrote "tea" I was referring to Camellia sinensis, the the bushy land dwelling shrub used in genmaicha, sencha, earl grey, etc.

grind's picture

I thought of doing the same thing with my kombucha starter.  Are you planning on keeping it feed with flour and water, just like a "regular" sourdough?




teaman4077's picture

Yes.  I figured the culture would adjust in the new environment and there may be microbes in the kombucha that were not cut out to exist in a flour/water medium, and once the culture stabalized I wouldn't want to keep introducing foreign bacteria and yeast, kind of like beginning the starter with whole wheat/rye flour and then switching to white in order to avoid continually adding possibly unwanted flora.  So since the first time I mixed it all up I've stuck w only water and flour.

teaman4077's picture

I know this thread is old now, but in case anyone is interested, I tweaked the original kombucha sourdough starter a bit according to some suggestions on this website by making the starter dryer (about 50% hydration) and adding a percentage of rye to it, and I can safely say that I am able to produce a nicely sour bread with good texture.  The culutre seems to be quite active and resilient in quickly fermenting the bread.


Thank you all for your comments and suggestions,

AnnaInMD's picture

I used to make tea with it in the 70s.  Peace, man !