Len Porzio is an old school Kombucha fanatic. Ever since I started brewing, I’ve been a fan of his Balance Your Brew page, a fantastic reference for the long term homebrewer of Kombucha.
Len is an easygoing gentleman from Virginia, very friendly and open to discussing the wonderful fermented elixir (yes, he and his wife still drink Kombucha every day!).
A software engineer by trade, Len first looked to Kombucha due to health concerns. A friend encouraged him to try it out, and its positive effects transformed his life.
Wanting to spread that Kombucha love, he began years of detailed experimentation with his brews, something he says gives him great pleasure. But that’s not the only reason he’s a Kombucha Legend. Mr. Porzio is also responsible for inventing a critical component of our Booch language. Read below to find out more!
Len Porzio: I first heard about Kombucha from Jack Barclay via a listserv I was a member of back when the internet was just born. It was the mid 1990’s and I was suffering from what I later realized was candida overgrowth.
At the time, I was into distance running, ate lots of honey and even though I was thin, I had lost 20lbs. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
As synchronicity would have it, after Jack had told me about Kombucha, I was visiting a friend in North Carolina and lo and behold, at the local farmer’s market, there was a vendor selling Kombucha mushrooms.
LP: Yes, it’s true. At the time, we (the KT listserv group) had been discussing the symbiotic relationship between the yeast and bacteria while in parallel conversations we were having difficulty distinguishing between the fermented tea and the white, pancake culture as they were both being referred to as “Kombucha.”
During one such confused discussion I began toying with some acronyms and suggested to the group we come up with some kind of name like SCOBY ( short for “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast”.) I assumed someone would come up with a better name, but it stuck.
Colleen Allen, the list administrator list back then, did me the favor of registering it online as an official acronym. Obviously, it’s still used today!
LP: I started out slow and worked my way up to 6oz. The symptoms of my candida began to recede after a week or so. After about 3 months, I felt cured. After a year of drinking Kombucha on a daily basis, my sinuses suddenly cleared. I had suffered from allergies for most of my life, so when I was able to breathe clearly, that was indeed miraculous.
My wife has also received health benefits from drinking Kombucha Tea. She was diagnosed with gall bladder problems and the doctors said they would have to remove it surgically. She was adamant in that she didn’t want any part of her anatomy removed.
She’s kept surgery at bay, the symptoms abated and each year there are fewer stones. She swears by it. Now I make it for her but I also have adopted it as my must have beverage out of respect for all it has done for us.
LP: Well, it took 8 years of brewing and experiments before I was able to isolate the different variables that are enumerated on the page. On the list, so many new people would join and ask the same questions over and over again.
Bob Williams the reigning list administrator, suggested I write it all up so I wouldn’t have to continually answer the same questions. When the listserv was decomissioned Bev Ferguson rehosted it at its present location.
I never imagined it would end up translated into several languages with links all over the internet. It’s kind of neat to see a page in another language and then “Len Porzio,” my name. I still get emails about the page to this day.
LP: If you perfect your recipe and process, you will find that no juice or other mixer will ever match the deliciousness of unflavored Kombucha. I use a ratio of 3 green tea bags to 2 black tea bags and I find it’s the most wonderful taste imaginable.
CandaceOctober 9, 2013 at 9:08 pm
So, I was reading the Balancing Act by Len Porzio because I am having issues with mold. This section about mold does not make sense to me at all….
“Well, many people add starter and still get mold – Why? Some people ferment a much shorter time than others because they prefer the ferment on the sweeter side. As a result the acidity level is lower. This means they increase the likelihood that mould will form before the fermentation acidifies to a level which rejects mould”….
How does that make sense? I’m so confused….and disheartened really. I found two of my scobys had mold yesterday so I had to throw out two batches of kombcha tea, and have no idea what I did wrong. I have two more and am terrified they too will get mold. The two moldy scoby’s looked cracked on the top like a dry desert floor. weird…any ideas what I did wrong? They had been fermenting for 10 days.
Hannah CrumOctober 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm
Not sure where your cultures originally came from but what Len is referring to is the pH of Kombucha. Starter liquid is fermented Kombucha (pH = 3.5-2.5). When we first add the starter liquid to the tea, the pH hasn’t fully acidified (i.e. dropped to the correct level). It typically take 3 days in a 1 gallon batch for it to reach the right level. (Need pH strips – find them here —> If you “prefer the ferment on the sweeter side” then the Kombucha may not have a chance to reach the right acidity which leaves it vulnerable to mold.
You might try subbing in a cup of DISTILLED vinegar to help acidify the KT more quickly, though it tends to throw the flavor off for a batch or two. You are also welcome to send pics and more details of your brewing process to firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance.
RandieFebruary 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm
Great interview with Len Hannah. I had the fortune of starting out on the KT Listserv back in the day along with Mike Roussin, Gunthar Frank and many other kt legends. Their research, studies and enthusiasm for kt has been invaluable and played a major roll in bringing kt to the 21st century. Thanks for sharing.
hannahDecember 6, 2011 at 8:38 pm
Astute observation Bob! I’m a fan of bottled aged Kombuchas. It brings out a more nuanced flavor. Cheers to you and Len!
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