We screwed up our last batch of kombucha. Not royally or irreparably, but we let it ferment in the jar for 17 days instead of 10. We just... lost track of time, I guess. The only way we even knew what day it started was because we had the last batch's bottling date on the bottles in the fridge. So first Mr. Moon forgot to mark the jar, and then I forgot to put a reminder in my To Do list, and then we lost track of time... and then we spent 5 days going "we should bottle that!"
I did a little research to find out whether it would be palatable and safe. I found one source that said that anything gone above 21 days was "unpalatable" and "too sour," and another that said that people in cooler, northern climates often ferment theirs for 20-30 days. So I figured my 17 days was probably safe, especially since "unpalatable" is a very personal statement.
We did taste it before we bottled it all, and it tasted still very sweet. We mixed it with some tart cherry juice when we bottled it and, believe it or not, it's just about perfect! It has a nice dry, not-too-sweet flavor to it, with a hint of cherry.
The bonus to this research is that I figured out why some of my bottles kept coming out flat and some much fizzier, even within the same batch. I thought it might have to do with the amount of microbes in the tea, since if we don't stir it up there is more cloudiness in the last bottle. However, it apparently has more to do with the amount of headspace when bottling. We increased our headspace a bit, which also resulted in a little less juice action per bottle, and I thought we found a nice balance of flavors and texture.
We will be making a new batch of Kombucha later this week, so I will get some pictures then and post our recipe.