Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha is a healthy beverage that contains beneficial bacteria and yeast. It also contains vitamins and minerals. It can help boost the immune system and reduce depression symptoms.
The FDA has stated that kombucha does not pose any health risks if it is brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha can be easy, cheap and convenient. The process is simple and requires minimal space.
There are several manufacturers that offer systems to streamline the brewing process and ensure consistency. These are ideal for home and small commercial brewing.
Large glass container: Look for one or two-gallon containers that are solid without a spigot, especially ones with a wide neck (smaller surface area allows more oxygen). Mason jars, and other containers with narrow mouths, don’t let enough air into the container during fermentation.
A thermometer. Often overlooked, but essential to regulate the temperature of fermentation. In winter, a heating pad can be used to warm up kombucha if it is too cold.
Long, flexible bottle brush: Ideal for cleaning tight corners and nooks. Brewery wash is specially formulated to remove stubborn residues from jar surfaces and narrow necks. Use in conjunction with a bottle cleaning brush for the best results.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been touted for its health benefits. It is made by mixing a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast with a sweetened tea solution. The symbiotic process creates a matrix of cells called a biofilm. The biofilm contains lactic-acid bacteria and yeast that produce acids and other substances which give kombucha it’s distinctive flavor and nutritional value.
The symbiotic process also breaks down sugar into carbon dioxide and small amounts of alcohol, which is why kombucha is sometimes referred to as “the champagne of health.” Commercial kombucha usually contains less than 0.5% of alcohol, which is FDA-approved for non-alcoholic labels.
When you brew your own kombucha, it is important to use high quality ingredients. Choose a black or green tea that is not herbal and unflavored, with white or turbinado plain sugar to avoid oils or flavors that could compromise the brew. The sweetener is used to feed the SCOBY, which will then convert it into vitamins and antioxidants.
A scoby consists of bacteria and yeast which form a symbiotic relation and produce kombucha. You can purchase a starter online, get a scoby by asking friends or family who make kombucha to give it to you or attend a workshop that will provide the starter.
Once the tea has cooled to room temperature, pour it into your brewing vessel and add the scoby (store-bought is fine). Cover the scoby with a tightly-woven cloth, such as an old teeshirt or bandana. This allows for airflow while keeping out fruit flies, dust and other contaminants.
Place your jar in a warm, dark place and let it ferment for 7-10 days. Check the jar occasionally and gently touch the surface of the scoby. If it feels nubbly, rough or patchy, this is normal; the scoby will become smooth and more uniform with each batch of kombucha you brew. Be sure to keep your jars away from sunlight, as light can cause the kombucha to taste vinegary.
When storing your Kombucha, find a dark spot where the temperature won’t fluctuate too much. A closet or cabinet is a good option if it’s large enough and you open/close it often enough to promote airflow. If you do choose to store your brew in a cupboard, consider keeping a jar of starter tea nearby in case you want to re-start a batch.
Remember to always handle a SCOBY with clean hands and to use sterilized equipment. It is also important to test your Kombucha regularly for harmful fungi and bacteria.
If you do discover mold or fungi, dump your kombucha and scoby and start over. Use the starter liquid in your SCOBY Hotel for your next batch. Continue this process until you have a constant supply. Enjoy!