The French Connection: Kombucha applied Research Programm

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Hackteria joins the kARP project by Thr34d5

thr34d5 is an NGO design studio fostering social inclusion. They conduct design research supporting auto-determination through crafts and open source. As such, they design processes, objects, installations, architectures, educational programs. Always open. We also produce artworks. Sometimes.

How to live in the era of the Anthropocene, design multi-generational, multicultural, trans-species societies. Not just based on age, social origin, or gender, thr34d5 focuses on the production and transmission of design methodologies based on synchronicities and trans-species communities rhythms.

thr34d5 practices a milieux design, a community-oriented design. thr34d5 is a medialab for social resilience.

This process was learnt by keeping the recipes for growing and threating the kombucha leather open source. Pls visit as well the wikifactory where you find all recipes here:

kombucha Applied Research Program by thr34d5 An open research on the craft of kombucha. Join us:

May - 20th July 2021 joins thr34de Networks to grow big biger bigest Scobies ever

Think Big Kombucha leather

SCOBY leather is a flexible biomaterial that’s made from a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). A SCOBY grows thicker with each brew as the culture feeds on the dissolved sugar, polyphenols and other nutrients in the freshly brewed and sweetened tea.Once the SCOBY achieves the desired size its harvested and treated just like traditional textile leather, this is followed by the drying process before being molded into shape. SCOBYs can be grown much more efficiently than leather, because it doesn’t rely on any animal products during production. Here you will find a manual to grow your own oversized Kombucha scoby.

How To

here an example of the scoby thr34de was growing some years ago. Most important ingredient as usually in fermenting is TIME
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Ingredientlist for 1 basin

Also go the the wikifactory by thr34d5 here: [Kombucha growing recipe]

for construction
8 big wodden slats
2 thick plastic sheetings 3x4m
1 thiner plastic sheetings 4x5m
2 Kg of black or green tea (this is the most expensive cost)
8 liter of industrial vinegar
8 Kg of sugar

Material List:
gaffa tape
plastic tarps 2x, 3x4m
big bucket at least 30 liters
additional plastic tarp for covering the floor

kombucha material list:
2 kilogram of Tea
8 liters of vinegar
8 kilogram of sugar
80 liters of of Water

2 people at least!

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If you have an empty unused space its good to make sure you can seal the rooms,
so the smell emission during the brewing time will not be disturbing others.

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here you see the tea we used, the more tea you use, the faster the scoby will grow,
using 2 Kg of tea can become a bit costy but it will enhance a fast growing process,

the highest investment point was the tea, finding a place that sells you cheap tea was also challenging.

Where to grow your big size kombucha scoby

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Best ist if you find an abandoned building or you have lots of space in your rooftop, somewhere where you have access, you have windows to occasionally ventilate the room. A room that you can easly visit at least once a week and where the smell emissions will not disturb others too much. So the question of finding a suitable room is 1. to have the amount of space 2. no disturbance of other residencies and 3. closed room with windows to ventilate. I was at a residency at Cité International des Arts, Paris I saw there were some studios unoccupied and just took my courage to ask to use them. It turned out that they have and unused rooftop and gave me the entire rooftop floor to install my kombuchas there, where we were able to grow 4 scobies in one time. I cordially thank Cité International des Arts for their generosity and kindness!

Building Instruction

build a frame with the wooden latches of 2 x 2 m, prepare all the latches cutting them down to 2m. Attach them with long and thick screws into each other using support brackets inside the corners to enhance the stability of the frame. Cover the floor with a plastic tarp in any case of leaks. (You do not want the sugary vinegary tea liquid flow onto the floor.) Insert the thick plastic tarp into the frame and attach them by a staple pistole on the outside or top of the wooden latches. Keep and cut off the left over plastic tarp. (we used it to cover the windows and doors to avoid direct sunshine as well as smell emissions) Be aware of not causing wholes into the tarp. Install some DIY made trestles with the leftover wood on the outside of the floor covering tarp, to be sure if there is liquid leaking it will be hold by the second plastic tarp. It functions as double layer for more security.

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Filling Process

The filling process will take you half a day, do not underestimate the amount of work. Before starting you want to be sure that your basin is free of contamination. We used alcohol and vinegar to clean the plastic trap of the basin properly, we used a new plastic tarp therefor it was easy to clean, if you use an already used tarp make sure that it will be entirely cleaned. Be sure you keep a good working progress, do not make a day of pause in between but fill the basin with liquid right after you cleaned it properly.

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You will need to boil 25-30 Liters of tea to dilute the sugar into it. We used all the 2 Kg of tea and steadily boiled the water to pour into the big bucket you have extra. (we bought a solid black plastic box of 37 liters volume, but you can use any other kind of container that is big enough) Dissolve the sugar inside the bucket with the tea for 30 liters amount of tea. After it cooled down a little you can slowly pour it into the kombucha basin. Be aware that you filter off the tea-leafs while pouring it into the basin. Add another 50 Liters of water to disolve with the hot tea. The layer of tea at the end should be around 3-5cm so the scoby has a good amount of depth to grow into. (you want at least 1-2cm thick layer of kombucha skin).

Add the 8 Liters of vinegar into the liquid. that helps to avoid contamination from the beginning. Add the prepared starter kombucha, use big scobies and at least 1 Liter of starter liquid, if you have more starter liquid the better it is.

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Cover up the basin with self made cover. Therefor we used 3 wooden latches and attached the second plastic tarp by stapler on it to have an equal square to cover the basin. the latches we kept on the size of 220cm so it overlaps the basin. attach the cover of the plastic tarp with tape on the side leaving it loosely open for better air ventilation. Growing kombucha scobies it needs oxygen (aerob)
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Growing Process

The growing process is connected to an starting ritual and upholding fingers crossed that all will be in order and right spirits. The two things you dont want to have is 1. neighbours complaining to an extent you have to cut the project 2. contamination of your kombucha skin growing. In both ways it is like keeping away the evil eye and bad ghosts from evading into your project. Again good preparation is the alpha and omega of your project. If you chose a good space to grow your kombucha and second if you keep a good starter culture of kombucha this will help a lot!!

Fermentation is an instable process based on the transformation of organic materials by living elements. You are working with organic elements and as in all live forms the most important is a holistic attitude and esprit.

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version 1: without contamination (perfect!)
version 2: with small contamination (still usable)

Harvesting Process

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Drying Process

you need access to water and soap. pull your big kombucha skin into the big plastic box and water and drain it like you would wash a precious piece of textile. take out the kombucha skin and rinse it with soap and lots of water, this will guarantee you a less smelly product. Empty the excessive left over liquid out of your basin, use cloth and sponge to clean and dry entirely. After the cleaning process put back the kombucha skin into the basin and let it dry completely. Check on the process from day to day to see if it is not sticking too much to the basin, normally it should be removable without any issues. wait and observe.

Post Treatment Process

Also go the the wikifactory recipe by thr34d5 here:

[Kombucha Treatment Recipe here]

There is a big debate amongst kombucha leather producers about what the ideal way is to post treat your dried kombucha leather. I have been experience various types of post treatment with shellack, with beeswax, but then also using simple Nivea cream or linen oil and turpentine
using shellack: will make your kombucha leather waterproof but hard. it will develop cracks on the surface after some weeks of keeping it. Apply the shellack with a brush regualarly onto the surface. Use gloves while doing. Let it dry completely.
using Beeswax: will make your kombucha leather waterpfoof but its a very costy process and involves a lot of work heat up the beeswax inside a waterbath until it disolvs. apply the fluid beeswax with a brush in a thin layer onto the kombucha. After you covered the entire skin, use a iron and newspaper layer inbetween to iron out excessive beeswax.
using Nivea cream: will make your kombucha leather waterproof. You will need to repeat this process at least 5 times to make it stable. The kombucha leather will stay soft and flexible. Involves a lot of time. Apply the Nivea cream onto your kombucha and massage it into the skin. Its like skin treatment ^^
using Turpentine and linen oil: will make your kombucha leather waterproof. You will need to repeat this process at least 5 times to make it stable. The kombucha leather will stay soft and flexible. Involves a lot of time. Apply the linen oil and turpentine as a 1:1 mixture into the kombucha, use gloves and work on the skin like you would massage it. let it dry for one week. Repeat this treatment several times, the more you do the better the leather gets.

never forget that originally the process of curing leather was a process taking three years of time