Update: Making Kombucha? Organic Tea vs. Lipton

by Ann Marie Michaels on August 24, 2009

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Making Kombucha? Organic Tea vs. Lipton

Last week I posted about how to make kombucha. There was some discussion about using Lipton tea instead of only using organic tea when making kombucha. Sally Fallon-Morell, in her book, Nourishing Traditions, recommends only using organic tea. After all, kombucha is considered a health tonic. The last thing we want to do is drink pesticides. I mean, it’s not exactly anyone’s idea of healthy. Right?

I believe the advice to use Lipton came from an interview Kelly the Kitchen Kop did last year with Betsy Pryor of Laurel Farms.

I want to preface this post with the following: I have absolutely nothing against Kelly the Kitchen Kop. I LOVE Kelly’s blog. I love Kelly, too — like a sister! Of course, I don’t blame her for this incorrect information.

I sent this post to Kelly before I published, to get her reaction, which follows:

Ann Marie, you’re so sweet to check with me before posting this, and of course I don’t mind if you post it – I’m all about finding and getting out the TRUTH! Your points make good sense. While I believe that Betsy gave me information she fully believed to be true at the time (she’s really sweet and I don’t believe she’d lie), after reading your information, I’m guessing that either a person at Lipton gave her a line of bull OR she was going by outdated information. Either way, I’ll be sure to update my post with a link to this one! Thanks, Kelly

Making Kombucha: Should We Use Organic Tea Or Lipton?

Betsy advised against using organic tea when making kombucha. She said we should use plain black Lipton tea.

According to Kelly’s interview with Betsy Pryor:

Betsy recommends plain Lipton black tea (“100% Natural”) – Lipton does not use tea brokers or middlemen. (They’ve owned their own plantations for over 200 years – this is important because all green and black tea is grown outside the U.S.) She tells me that Lipton tea is never sprayed with pesticides, so it is organic without the organic label. (Although they now sell black and green tea labeled “organic”, but at the store I see they are the exact same price.) Because of how most organic or decaffeinated tea comes into the U.S., it usually isn’t really organic (50% are sprayed with pesticides at customs as a precaution), and this can cause the Kombucha to mold. (Source)

Is Lipton Tea Organic?

I was skeptical about this when I first read the interview. Specifically the bit about how Lipton tea is organic but doesn’t use the organic label. I couldn’t imagine why a multinational corporation wouldn’t use the organic label if they had the right to do so. Just using the organic label means you can charge more. Plus, Lipton sells an organic brand of tea — so why wouldn’t they just label everything organic?

I searched online but did not find anything. I didn’t have any information about Lipton and whether or not their tea is organic. Eventually I forgot about it — but I kept making my kombucha with organic tea, not Lipton.

However, the issue came up again last week when I recommended using only organic tea for kombucha. Commenters brought up the issue of Lipton vs. organic tea — wondering if Betsy Pryor’s advice was correct — or if we should be following the advice of Sally Fallon-Morell and use only organic tea.

One of my longtime readers (and now a friend), Julie D., emailed me this morning with some information about Lipton that documents that their tea is not organic.

According to the Unilever (Lipton is owned by Unilever) website:

Current best practice is mainly based on integrated farming principles, and involves appropriate use of fertilisers and pesticides to optimise yield while minimising environmental impacts.

Recent updates to Unilever’s Good Agricultural Practice Guidelines on pest management have incorporated a strategic commitment to Integrated Pest Management (IPM). (Source)

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, includes “the judicious use of pesticides“. (Source)

Also, on this page of the Unilever website, you can download a PDF, a “Lipton Tea Supplier Sustainability Assessment”, which states:

“We are looking for evidence of an integrated approach to pest, disease and weed management. We want to see that the main way you manage pests and diseases is to manage the crop and farm in such a way that problems are minimized, and that pesticides are only used when necessary.

It is admirable that they are minimizing the use of pesticides. However, in my book, that ain’t organic. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want pesticides in my kombucha.

Is Organic Tea Really Organic?

I cannot speak to Betsy Pryor’s claim that organic tea is sprayed with pesticides at customs (I am quoting Kelly here):

…most organic or decaffeinated tea comes into the U.S., it usually isn’t really organic (50% are sprayed with pesticides at customs as a precaution), and this can cause the Kombucha to mold.

I find it very hard to believe that organic tea coming in to the U.S. is being sprayed with pesticides at customs “as a precaution”. I find it very implausible that the Organic Consumers Association and the Organic Trade Association would not be aware of this — and if they were aware of it, I’m sure they’d be making a big stink about it.

However, I don’t have any information on whether that is true or false. If there is anyone out there reading this who has more information, please post in the comments.

Which Tea Should We Use For Kombucha?

I have been using organic tea for my kombucha for over a year now and I have never had any problems with mold.

You can make your own decisions about what kind of tea to use when making kombucha. I’m going to follow Sally Fallon-Morell’s advice and stick with only organic tea.

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff August 24, 2009 at 11:11 AM

I’ve been making Kombucha for the last four months with great results. I like that you can try a lot of experimenting with it. For instance, I like to grow each new batch for at least a month, which means less sugar, more tart. I decant a large cup in the morning, add some fresh fruit juice or pulp, and place it in the fridge for several hours. The kombucha becomes invigorated, and fresh tasting.
I’ve tried three different types of tea- organic Darjeeling- from the foothills of the Himalayas- the birthplace of kombucha I believe, non-organic high mountain tea from Taiwan- not quite as good, kind of grassy, better when mixed with blueberry sauce, and my latest batch is Assam- another from the Himalaya region- heady, and full bodied.

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Kaylin August 24, 2009 at 12:18 PM

I always use organic tea because I’ve read that nonorganic tea has large amounts of fluoride, which I avoid like the plague due to my thyroid condition (which is getting a lot better). I’ve been making kombucha for some time and have never had problems with mold. I generally use Celestial Seasonings organic black tea. I wouldn’t think that pesticide-ridden tea would be mold-resistant anyway. Nonorganic plants tend to be weaker and no plants are sterile. Everything has bacteria, it’s just a matter of reducing the bad and increasing the good. There is no reason that organic tea would be more susceptible to mold. The reasoning doesn’t make sense to me.

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cheeseslave August 24, 2009 at 12:24 PM

Yes, Kaylin, I think I read that about the fluoride in Sally Fallon Morell’s book, Nourishing Traditions. I don’t know what her source is for that. Nor do I know why non-organic tea would have more fluoride. Not sure — but I avoid it anyway.

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Rachel August 24, 2009 at 12:29 PM

Thank you for posting this! I purchased my first mother Kombucha SCOBY from Betsy Pryor at Laurel Farms. It was/ is of superior quality. With the SCOBY I received detailed instructions on making Kombucha which included the specific suggestion to use the Lipton, non-organic tea only! I have been using the Lipton tea with great results, however I am happy to know that I can safely use orgainc tea without harming my SCOBY! It never really made sense to me why I could not use organic tea. I really appreciate you researching and posting this!

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mydogischelsea August 24, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Not to mention that Lipton tea is downright nasty-tasting.

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coconutfreek July 20, 2011 at 5:01 PM

ditto

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Betsy August 24, 2009 at 1:11 PM

I also use organic tea and have been since the beginning (almost a year ago). My scoby is fine and so’s my kombucha. No mold to be seen or smelled. I finally got around to taking the scoby out of the ceramic crock a couple of weeks ago and that thing was HUGE and healthy-looking!

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Leesie August 24, 2009 at 4:46 PM

I use Twinings and another brand that I can’t recall. I guess I will be looking into buying organic tea from now on. I’ve been making Kombucha using Food Renegade’s recipe. I also grew my own Scoby using her tutorial so I’m looking forward to her weighing in on this!

Kudos to you and Kitchen Kop. I think it’s important that the right information be out there, not misinformation.

Thanks Ann Marie for researching this and for providing such great information.

[SeasLife on Twitter]

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Leanne Palmerston August 24, 2009 at 5:03 PM

I got my very first scoby last week and put it up in two litres of plain old black tea on Friday. The scoby looks to be doing fine 3 days later. I can definitely see growth happening at the bottom (where my scoby settled) and the top where the new scoby looks to be growing.

I’ve always drank the same couple of brands of English Breakfast or Orange Pekoe tea and never really thought much about getting my tea organic. I come from an Irish family where there are usually 4 different sized tea pots on the counter for different times of day and for when guests show up. I grew up drinking Tetley. I now use a house brand of English Breakfast tea. That’s what I brewed for my first batch.

I have mixed feelings about organics and generally try to go for local over strictly organic. But, of course, with tea, that’s different.

I think after my first batch is ready, I’ll invest in some nicer tea leaves. I’ve heard good things about specific types that I’m interested in checking out.

So, if I generally drink non-organic teas, is using it for my Kombucha really the sin some say it is? (someone on the Original Kombucha list got rather uppity about organic tea and that kind of behaviour is incredibly annoying)

Sorry about the tome!

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Meg August 24, 2009 at 6:18 PM

Hey Ann Marie –
I JUST attended a WAPF chapter class on kombucha making last week, and this came up! (Hillori, if you’re reading this – ironic, huh?!) I’m so glad you’ve done the research on it and saved us the trouble! I’ve always made my kombucha with organic looseleaf tea, but, man, cheap tea bags are nice ;)

Thanks!
Meg

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Pamela August 24, 2009 at 6:22 PM

Hi Ann Marie ~
Thanks for researching this. Do you know anything about Bigelow’s Premium100% Ceylon Tea grown / harvested and packaged in Sri Lanka? Sam’s club for a while had carried under Fair Trade Black Tea label. It’s what I have been using for going on 15 months now with fantastic results, healthy scoby’s.

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Laurie N August 24, 2009 at 7:21 PM

Kaylin – if you see this, what else have you been doing for your thyroid? Mine could use some rehab work, too.

I appreciate this discussion – interesting info. Has anyone read the book Wild Fermentation? The author mentions that they tried brewing a wide variety of liquids with their SCOBYs and they survived and thrived just fine – including Mountain Dew. The friend I got my SCOBY from has used a wide variety of regular, herbal and fruit teas. All worked just fine. I finally got a vessel to brew in and am planning to get my brew going tomorrow.

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cheeseslave August 24, 2009 at 7:26 PM

Pamela -

If it doesn’t say organic, it probably isn’t.

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Debbie August 25, 2009 at 4:42 AM

Thank you for updating this (mis)information. It can be so hard to find out what the truth is. It’s great to have such a great think-thank with you and Kelly that can help those of us out here!

Many thanks again to both you and Kelly for all of your work!

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Hillori August 25, 2009 at 7:59 AM

Yes Meg, this is ironic. I’m throwing out my Lipton Tea bags and going back to using Organic Tea. Thanks for posting this information cheeseslave.

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Kaylin August 25, 2009 at 8:45 AM

Ann Marie,
So that’s where I read the thing about fluoride in tea! I read so much, half the time I can’t remember where I read what. Thanks!

I think in my reading about fluoride I’ve read that the fluoride that cities put in their water supplies is actually a by-product of pesticides. So cities are using up all this pesticide waste thinking they’re contributing to the health and wellbeing of the citizens. It’s a big hoax. I can try to find where I read that if you’re interested. I think I have it in a file somewhere. So is it possible that the high fluoride levels in nonorganic tea are from the pesticides, which become even more concentrated when the tea is dried? That would be an interesting study.

Laurie N., I’d be happy to share what I’ve done with my thyroid. I’ll try to contact you more directly since this is Ann Marie’s site and the post is about tea, not thyroids :-).

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cheeseslave August 25, 2009 at 11:57 AM

Kaylin -

I haven’t read it yet but just downloaded the book, The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson to my iPhone. I’ve been meaning to read it.

http://www.fluoridealert.org/fluoride-deception.htm

This page on the Fluoride Action Network’s site states that tea is very high in fluoride:

http://www.fluoridealert.org/f-sources.htm

According to a PDF I downloaded from that page, the USDA says that tea absorbs fluoride from the soil. I read elsewhere that it is absorbed and contained in the leaves.

The USDA says that tea used to be grown in “natural” soil but is now grown in soil using fluoride-containing fertilizers — which increases the fluoride in the tea.

I suppose this may be why organic tea has less fluoride — because organic growers do not use those chemical fertilizers.

It looks like there is also fluoride in the pesticides they use. Look at this:

http://www.fluoridealert.org/f-pesticides.htm

A whole database of fluoride-based pesticides. Fun fun fun!

I think the best course of action is to make kombucha with only organic tea — not just because of the pesticides which are known carcinogens, but also because of the fluoride which wreaks havoc with your thyroid gland and blocks iodine uptake (among other problems with fluoride).

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Anna August 25, 2009 at 12:11 PM

I can’t speak to the Lipton organic status issue. I have Betsy Pryor’s book and have read it, but I have never found the issue of tea brand or organic certification to be an issue in the kombucha tea I’ve made. I don’t think I’ve ever had a batch mold. I use whatever black tea I have in the cupboard, which varies a lot. I’ve also never use white sugar. The only granulated sucrose sugar I buy is organic evaporated cane juice (which is still sugar of course, but with a few trace nutrients remaining that give a slight tan hue). It still works. I use it for hummingbird food, too, which is also “against the rules”. Actually, the hummingbirds in our garden consume more sugar than we do, by at least 2-3 times.

The words organic and pesticide are bandied about rather loosely sometimes. No matter how “organic” the production may be, if Lipton or any other tea company doesn’t do what is necessary for USDA Organic certification, then the tea cannot be labeled “Organic” (the big O). And now that the USDA is the arbiter of what is “certifiable” the USDA controls the approved list of pesticides on organic products (that that list is getting loose with the growth of big agribusiness movement into the organic food production model).

Anything applied to plants to kill pests is a pesticide, even if it is Safer’s soap solution, which is approved for organic use. So it would be interesting to know exactly which “pesticides” Lipton uses on the tea (certified organic or not), not so much whether they use “pesticides” (which may actually have USDA organic certification approval).

But of course, it’s hard to get this sort of information from big multinational corporations like Lipton/Unilver, so for that reason I’d tend to not buy Lipton tea anyway and instead buy tea from a smaller company who would answer questions about their tea growing without having to hop through hoops. Transparency is very important to me.

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Kaylin August 25, 2009 at 1:49 PM

That was it… now that you mention it I think it was fertilizer that was mentioned in the fluoride information I read, not pesticides. It’s been a really long time since I read it. Looking forward to a book report about the fluoride book :-).

I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I appreciate your recommendation of Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It’s up there with the very best books I have ever read! It has helped me really understand the digestive system and why my children have all had eczema just like me. It’s not because of an “eczema gene” after all! It has also given me hope that someday I may be able to eat gluten again, in moderation of course. Yay!

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Kim August 26, 2009 at 8:16 PM

This is great info – thank you! Just wondering – is GT Dave’s as good for you as making it at home? I am going to start making it again myself, but I still do purchase his brand…

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Joelle August 26, 2009 at 8:51 PM

My question is about caffeine–even though people say there is little caffeine in kombucha, I still feel it. Anyone try using decaffeinated tea? Any reason not to?

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cheeseslave August 27, 2009 at 7:55 AM

I’m not sure about using decaffeinated tea. I have read that the fluoride is much higher in decaf tea.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8850589

Maybe someone else knows more about decaf tea and whether or not it is a good idea…

If the caffeine in kombucha bothers you, you could try making it with herbal tea. Julie from Cultures for Health, in her kombucha making instructions, says it is possible to use herbal tea successfully:

“Black tea is traditionally used but Kombucha can be made successfully with green or herbal teas.”

Why not give it a try?

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coconutfreek July 21, 2011 at 6:08 PM

is natural flouride like that bad for you?

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Jeanmarie Todd August 27, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Hi Annemarie,
Here’s where I come down on this. I follow Sally Fallon’s recommendations to use organic black tea. I also experiment with adding flavored (organic) black or herbal teas in, maybe one bag out of the 4 I use for a batch, or in the case of herbal tea, just add it to the 4 black tea bags. I use organic white sugar (evaporated cane juice). That’s the only thing I keep sugar around for.

I think Sandor Katz of Wild Fermentation is also correct that SCOBYs are very durable and adaptable if you meet their basic needs. So the reason to use organic tea isn’t that the scoby can’t handle inorganic (though maybe over time it would make a difference), it’s for your own health and the general health of the environment and agricultural workers. I haven’t had any trouble finding affordable organic tea (Whole Foods’ 365 brand and Trader Joe’s house brands are good). The more of us that stick with organic, the sooner the other will disappear. (I agree that USDA Organic standards have lots of problems, so if you know someone who runs a biodynamic tea plantation, say, that isn’t USDA certified, go for it!)

On decaf tea, that seems a mistake to me. If you culture your kombucha long enough, you should be left with no detectable caffeine. I’m *extremely* sensitive to caffeine—it gives me horrible migraines (as does sugar)—so if regular kombucha was leaving caffeine, I would know it by the next day. And caffeine is part of what the scoby metabolizes to make the beneficial acids. Presumably if you make kombucha with entirely decaf tea, it’s not going to be the same as traditional kombucha as to beneficial ingredients for us.

I’ve had success with secondary fermentation with added fruit juice. I’d recommend that for those who don’t like the taste of kombucha.

I’ve been making kombucha for 5-6 years now with no failures (though some experiments were less than brilliant) and I don’t think it’s attributable to my skill, just the wonderful kombucha culture that gives us so much and asks for so little in return! A little white sugar and black tea, filtered water, a quiet spot on the counter. That’s it!

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Anita August 30, 2009 at 7:47 PM

To decaffinate your tea, just briefly dip your teabags (10 seconds or so) into a cup of boiling water before putting the teabags in the pot to brew the tea, & you’ve “decaffinated” the tea! The caffeine apparently comes out first.
Hope that helps.
Anita.

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Jeanmarie Todd August 31, 2009 at 9:36 AM

Anita, do you have a scientific reference for that? Forgive me but I’ve learned to be a skeptic about these things. If your concern is caffeine in kombucha, that shouldn’t be a problem if you fully culture it before drinking, to the point it’s barely sweet/tart. I know this from my own experience as a caffeine-sensitive person. Also, I just checked the label of an old GT’s Synergy kombucha (divine grape) bottle that I have around and caffeine is not even listed on the label, even as a trace amount. Incidentally, it does say that “Due to the fermentation, this product may contain a trace amount of alcohol, (less than 0.5%).” That’s certainly not enough to cause problems. I think it would take a lot more sugar (and a different yeast culture) to make much alcohol with kombucha, even intentionally. At the worst you’ll end up with vinegar similar to apple cider vinegar with mother culture.

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Pamela August 31, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Jeanmarie ~

Thank you for posting your above comment on caffeine and kombucha. I have tried over and over to tell a friend that if there was caffeine in the kombucha it would be because it was not cultured long enough or if there was any I would not be drinking kombucha at all since I am very sensitive to it. Thank you for pointing out GT’s Kombucha labeling…that is absolutely correct. It’s the same on each of the flavors.
Kombucha is actually what detoxed my body over many many months and virtually eliminated my years of headaches of sensitivities from chemical cleaners and perfumes.
If I do get a headache at all it’s mild and pretty much it will subside with drinking kombucha and lots of water. Rarely if ever do I need to take over the counter meds for one anymore. I used to live on them….they are a rarity today.

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Erica July 21, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Wow, thanks for the testimonial, Pamela!

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coconutfreek July 21, 2011 at 6:11 PM

that is good to know………next time I get a headache, I am going to try kombucha. Most of my headaches I am sure are because of toxins.

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Kim September 1, 2009 at 6:49 PM

Sorry to ask again, but do you all consider G T Dave’s a good kombucha? I purchase this when I don’t make my own… AND do you give your babies/kids kombucha even when made with black (caffinated) tea?

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coconutfreek July 20, 2011 at 5:03 PM

I love GT kombucha. i hope its a good one. I would be so dissappointed if its not.

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Erica July 21, 2011 at 5:46 PM

I love GT’s Kombucha! I think it is still good.

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Erica July 21, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Hi Cheeseslave,

Do you know if GT is a good brand for kombucha?

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Kaylin September 1, 2009 at 7:02 PM

Kim, I give it to my kids all the time. They love it. They think it tastes like pop (which they are not allowed to have) so they think it’s a real treat. I do a second ferment to flavor it with fruit. If you ferment it long enough it doesn’t have any significant amount of caffeine, if it has any at all. I ferment mine a good 3 weeks or month so it’s good and sour (and there is no caffeine left) and then the fruit sweetens it during the second ferment. It satisfies their craving for fizz.

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Jeanmarie Todd September 1, 2009 at 9:18 PM

There’s no appreciable amount of either caffeine or sugar left in fully cultured kombucha so it should be great for kids. I don’t have kids, but my 80-year-old mother grew to love it (and she’s a Mormon who doesn’t drink tea) when she came to visit.

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nick March 30, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Don’t be too convinced by a label that says Certified Organic. Remember that the USDA is still in bed with industrial agricultural corporations. Also, our generation is the first to have to require inspectors to confirm that food is still grown naturally (according to their standards, which may not be wholly natural). Pre-1940′s the majority of our food was grown how always was (although the tractor and moldboard plow drastically turned the tables). This is not a comment to vilify organic farmers (they are honest and hardworkin’), but if you do not already know, a lot of organic farmers are just doing it to make money. The National Organic Program was revolutionary in 1990, but with the advances from genetics to satellites, big ag is even bigger than it was.

As for Organic Tea vs non-organic tea, there is non-Organic tea that IS 100% natural. Its just that the producer hadn’t yet justified the cost of becoming certified against livelihood.
If you are looking for good tea, know thy tea farmer. If cannot talk to the person who owns the land, grows, processes, and maybe sells their tea, then you may not be buying good tea. The best way to know a (tea) farmer is to talk to them, on the farm is best, but on the phone works too. Sure buying the cheapest certified Organic tea at Whole Food’s or Traders Joe’s is fine for most consumer consciences, but if you want to really feel good and in turn make really unique and life enhancing Kombucha, the best way is to use tea that is produced as near as possible to you, and that is produced naturally. Local tea in north America is an oxymoron, unless you happen to own a really fancy greenhouse, but American Tea does exist and tastes excellent. Check out http://www.hawaiiteasociety.org/ under “Tea goods and services”.
I interned at a Hawaiian tea farm, and although they are not certified I know that they pick tea by hand, use microbes and high carbon compost to improve the soil, process at exactly the right times, and never use pesticides. I will making my first Hawaiian green tea Kombucha from the farm I worked at, Mauna Kea Tea Garden. I even got a free SCOBY from a local producer of Kombucha in my area, you might have had a bottle before from High Country Kombucha.

I may even follow this up with a blog just about Kombucha and morally responsible ingredients for producing it.

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coconutfreek July 21, 2011 at 6:12 PM

did you start a blog? I would be interested……

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Ed Kasper March 20, 2011 at 1:09 PM

There is caffeine, sugar and alcohol in Kombucha. The alcohol will be about 0.5 typically brewed and 2-3% when brewed, bottled and left at room temperatures. Sugar will be reduced about 60% and caffeine will remain at pretty much the same levels. You can use herbal teas (no caffeine) and still make kombucha. The caffeine does stimulate the bacteria and after a few ferments you may have to wake the bacteria up a bit.

GT and other kombucha was pulled from the store shelves last June because there was about 2-3% alcohol. The added alcohol was from the bottling process. The label said less than 0.5 but test showed higher. When you make it at home it will be typically less than 0.5%. But if you bottle it and leave it at room temperature (to gain carbonation) you’ll have more alcohol. And there will always be some sugar left. Same for caffeine. I’ve posted an analyses on my website. http://www.happyherbalist.com/analysis_of_kombucha.htm

But I came across this site on the issue of Organic Tea.
The only reason why organic would pose more of a risk than commercial tea is specifically because it has not been sprayed or chemically laced. When you place pure good wholesome nutritious tea in sugar and water, a bunch of microbes gets hungry fast. If you have a strong kombucha (microbes) colony already flourishing you’re pretty safe. But if your kombucha is on the weaker side – there’s plenty of airborne mold and pathogens just waiting for the opportunity. Including vinegar eels. The same is true for organic sugar. Realize that even in the best of times any ferment may fall prey initially. You may increase your risk, but the risk is still small. Luckily kombucha is cheap, hardy, safe. Spoilage affects kombucha just as spoilage affects our everyday food.
Happy brewin’
Ed Kasper, the HappyHerbalist

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Norma June 18, 2011 at 7:07 PM

I am wondering if the SCOBY can “die”. I had mine in the fridge for I bet 2 years, in a glass jar w/ some kombucha w/ it. I put some brewing now, but I think it’s dead. Do they go bad? Thanks for your help.

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Karen A. July 17, 2011 at 3:09 PM

This was very informative and I’m glad to know this. I am a big tea drinker and will look for a good brand of organic.

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LeahS July 20, 2011 at 9:48 AM

ugh. I hadn’t heard that they spray organic tea. I’m not sure it’s true but I DO want to try growing my own tea. I’ve heard it’s not too hard!

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coconutfreek July 20, 2011 at 5:02 PM

why would they spray organic tea, that is gross!! the things they think of!

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Erica July 21, 2011 at 5:43 PM

They spray organic tea, too?

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Nick March 8, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Yes organic tea can be sprayed if there are pests but the sprays are from naturally occurring substances.

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Erica July 21, 2011 at 5:42 PM

Hi everyone,

Does anyone know if organic tea contains any fluoride?

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carmen August 27, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Since I have been drinking Kombucha (the past 2 months) I have been getting vaginal yeast infections as well as oral cold sores at the same time. Has anyone else experienced this and can shed some light on the situation? I ferment for 12-14 days.

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Karen Elizabeth March 8, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Hello Cheeseslave!
What do you do if you got your SCOBY from someone who doesn’t use organic tea? I just started my first batch and used regular lipton (I hadn’t come across this post yet). I would like to start using organic for my next batch… do you think i need to start over with a new SCOBY?

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norma March 8, 2013 at 4:35 PM

I think you are good with the lipton tea. Google how they grow the tea, I do believe they do not use chemicals in growing it. I was leary at first also, but after reading about it I use it for my kombucha.

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Karen Elizabeth March 8, 2013 at 12:52 PM

oops! i forgot to check the box that said “notify me of followup comments via email”. Please do!

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Nick March 8, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Yes you can use a Scoby from a non-organic source. Rinse it and then add it to your tea. After the first batch you will have a fresh layer of mother and can discard the bottom older Scoby. I would be more concerned about sourcing natural tea and sugar.

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Joanna March 26, 2013 at 12:36 PM

hmmmm. This is interesting. I’ve been brewing kombucha for some time now, and I have been using regular tea (Twinings, Lipton). I have had no trouble with my SCOBY. I also use regular white sugar. I know, I know. But it really is a money thing. I just can’t spend ridiculous amounts of money on tea and sugar when I have to feed my family. I am concerned about pesticides and flouride in the tea, but I am not convinced that “organic” means that there are no chemicals in it. I have read that organic farmers use pesticides that are considered “natural” but may pose even more risk to us because more of it needs to be used to get the same effect as conventional pesticides. Also, many of the chemicals used in organic farming have not been tested. Wish I could remember where I read that article. But that is why I hesitate to jump on the “organic” bandwagon. When I see a jar of tomato sauce that is $8, something is wrong here. I will try to find affordable organic tea, but I simply can’t spend an arm and a leg to make kombucha. That was the appeal of it in the first place, that it was a cheap way to get probiotics into my system because I was tired of paying so much for probiotic supplements! I’m also culturing vegetables. Another cheap way to get the good bacteria in your diet.

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