MOFishin
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How long is too long to brew tea?

I've just been starting to experiment with making compost teas. I'm wondering how long is too long to brew it. I'm under the impression quite a while if I keep it aerating, which I am. But I haven't found any definitive answers.

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Krasus3
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

I'm with you, I haven't seen any definitive answers as well. Personally, i have not gone over 3 days at a time, but that is usually because the plants need some water and I can't wait any longer. I've also accidentally gone with non aerated, steeped worm casting tea, for over a week and did not have any issues (thankfully). Plants seemed pleased.

imafan26
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

Most aerated teas are brewed for 24 hours but are best used within 4 hours because the brewing increases the microbial counts to the point of saturation but as soon as the aeration is turned off they start dying.

In contrast non aerated compost tea can be 4-7 days old and since the environment is not drastically changed they don't die off as fast

As to the benefits of compost tea, the results are mixed. Compost itself has a lot of benefits but since compost is not a homogenous substance it is hard to do scientific studies on them. Every batch will be different and the microbe types and numbers will be different. It is often luck of the draw since the food source you feed them attracts both the good and bad kind of microbes. If you have good quality compost you should have good quality tea. Remember also that non aerated teas will favor different microbes than aerated teas. There has not been any definitive studies yet that prove the benefits of compost teas. However, usually people who go through the trouble to brew them are probably also not neglecting their plants, so they tend to have healthier landscapes anyway.

For myself, I prefer to try to provide a wide variety of plants to attract beneficial insects and animals to take care of the pests. Most of the plants grown in Hawaii are alien species anyway, so it is just finding the most adaptable plants and knowing when something just isn't happy and does not belong. if I have problems with a particular disease or pest on a specific plant, I relocate the plant or stop planting it for a couple of years and hope that the problem does not resurface. if it does, then I can't plant it. That is why I have a hard time planting sweet basil. Unless a basil is developed with better resistance to downy mildew, it just does not do well. I am not purely organic, I add compost, but for the most part I don't use a lot of mulch and I fertilize based on my soil test recommendations now instead of just applying fertilizer blindly. I do use vermicompost and I make compost tea occasionally, but I think it is all of the things in combination that we do that makes for a healthy landscape and not just one thing that matters.

https://puyallup.wsu.edu/wp-content/upl ... -tea-2.pdf
https://www.gardeningwithmicrobes.com/teaarticle2.shtml
https://www.compostjunkie.com/how-long-b ... s-bad.html
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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ID jit
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

WARNING: Potential Stupid Question.

How wrong have I doing this if I started out with about 1/2 gallon of compost, 1/4 cup molasses and 4 gallons of well water in a five gallon bucket with one dual output air pump each running a fine mist stone.

Then pulling 3 1/2 gallons of tea out, adding more water and molasses and starting the cycle with no new compost.

I wait until it gets good and foaming before I ladle out most of the liquid.

Has this been extra work for nothing. Plants seem to be doing okay with it, but I don't have a control group to compare them to.
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

jeff84
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

if you do that it will be a mostly bacterial tea. fungal growth peeks around 18-36 hrs depending on several variables. after that the bacteria outcompete the fungi. so if you take out most of the liquid then add more food you are just feeding the bacteria. there is nothing wrong with this. the bacteria so long as they aren't left to go anaerobic are good, but you will be missing out on the biodiversity that a fresh made brew can provide. most all plants can benefit greatly from even a single inoculation of mycorhizal (sp?) fungi. so I would try to get at least a few doses of fresh brew tea to my garden per season.

imafan26
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

Do you add blackstrap molasses to the brew? I make mine with molasses added to feed the fungi and bacteria. I agree, the real benefit of the tea are the microbes. So, I found out that I need to change my tea bag to something with larger holes so more of the microbes can get out. It is not guaranteed that you will get the bacteria that you want, and aeration does have its' drawbacks because while it grows the microbes faster, the aerobic bacteria have a very short life span once aeration ends. It is one of the advantages of an anaerobic tea, the microbes live longer and the tea keeps a few days rather than hours.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Gary350
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

I have 6 large 30 gallon plastic trash cans I use to fill them the tree leaves. I mow the tree leaves with the lawn mower to chop them into smaller pieces. Fill trash cans with leaves and water let it set for 3 days it makes a very dark color tea. I water my plants it turns out to be no better than just plane water. It is basically colored water with very little food value for plants. Even if I make tea with compose it makes nice looking colored tea and still has no more value for plants than just plane water. Compose material is very good for plant root growth it makes the soil very soft for roots to grow. The compose I make is mixed with about 20% garden soil in a large bucket I use it to plant seeds in plant trays. I don't make compose tea anymore, now I mow tree leaves using the lawn mower to blow chopped pieces all over the whole garden then i till them into the soil. Plant roots love compose soil. Better roots = better plants. You need to do your own experiments to learn what works.

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ID jit
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

Gary350 wrote:I have 6 large 30 gallon plastic trash cans I use to fill them the tree leaves. ...
That sounds link you are making bark tanning liquor, especially if you are using oak or walnut leaves or walnut husks - a lot on tannins and/or tannic acid.
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

MOFishin
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

I had given up on this thread and was surprised to see multiple responses when I logged in tonight. Great information everyone.
I do know that it is best to use the tea in less than 4 hours. I'm assuming an extra day or two being aerated (brewing) wouldn't hurt? I tend to do this sometimes just because I get sidetracked with other things. But as far as I know, this shouldn't be a problem as long as I use the tea as soon as I stop aerating it.

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ID jit
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

Is I is an Idjit, so....

What I have been doing with little sciectific research or data to work from seems to be working well for me.

Took some PVC pipeand a par of 90's and made a "U" the fits across the bottom of the bucket. I cross drilled the piece that is in contact with the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket with a 3/16's drill bit so there 4 lines of holes spaced about 1" apart. Glued the 90's onto that piece so none of the holes actually hit the bottom. Inserted the upright so they come up to a few inches short of the top of the bucket. Then I glued the "U" to the bottom of the bucket. Once the PVC glue cured I put a fine mist air stone down each of the tubes and hung them just above the cross piece. Hooked those up to a dual out fish tank air pump.

Tossed in half a gallon of compost , filled with well water, added 1/4 cup molasses and let it bubble away. Have a second bucket of well water sitting to get up to ambient temp as to not shock the microbes when I add it. When it gets frothy, I ladle out most of the liquid and water the garden with it. Plants are getting 1/2 quart, rows of things, I just get wet. Have a stone I leave where I left off and start there with the next batch and just keep cycling through the garden and SIP's I have.

Not sure if the air lift system is downing anything other than pulling the liquid from the bottom and dropping it out on top. Do know that aeration of water happens in disturbances in the water surface where the H-bond / surface tension is weakest. By condensing the bubbles in an uplift tube, you are suppose to get more surface disturbance than just an air stone.

Thinking that lead to this is that the dead microbes are almost instantaneous plant food and easy for the plants to absorb.

Have no idea what I am growing in my bucket, but it is most definitely alive; could be just yeasts at this point, but it doesn't smell unheathy and the plants are not suffering from it as far as I can tell. I does smell a little sweet and fermentation like, but not strongly. Might be getting my plants drunk for all I know.

Again, is I is an idjit and I have no fear of failing big.
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

jeff84
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

I have a airlift set up, and a microscope. you can literally watch the microbe population slowly take off and gain momentum, slow down, and homogenize. meaning after a certain point you have almost nothing but bacteria and protozoa. I try to catch it during the fungal bloom.

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ID jit
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

So, I would guess I have bacteria and protozoa cooking away in my set up, since it has been running strait for over a month. (Should I be setting up a still at this point? Fermentation has top be producing some alcohol.)

Tapped an old 12 volt dc air pump I used to use for moving fish into the 12 volt batter and solar recharge I power my shed lights with.

Somehow I knew it was too easy, add water and molasses and come back in a few days to drain off most of it and repeat.
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

jeff84
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Re: How long is too long to brew tea?

yeas I would guess that there is very little if any fungi growing in your tea. after a while even the protozoa succumb to the bacteria. and eventually one or two dominant bacteria will over grow all the other bacteria as well giving you something closer to a mono culture. where one organism dominates a space to the point that other organisms cannot thrive. its still good aerobic microbes. if you start to get a raw sewage smell you know you are not providing enough aeration and anaerobic microbes are gaining a foot hold, these microbes can still be good for plants. however, most all disease causing microbes are anaerobic, so its best to steer clear of them unless you know exactly what you are culturing. I have a rather large air pump used for yard ponds. cant remember what the flow rate it is exactly but its well over 100 gallons per minute 12xx gallons per hour. in a 5 gallon bucket. it may be a bit over kill but it wasn't that expensive.

I picked it up after getting tired of my teas going anaerobic with small aquarium pumps

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