Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha contains beneficial bacteria and yeast, as well as other vitamins and minerals. It can boost your immune system, and reduce depression symptoms.
The FDA states that kombucha is safe to drink when brewed correctly. Brewing kombucha at home is simple, inexpensive, and convenient. The process is simple and requires minimal space.
There are a number of manufacturers who offer systems designed to streamline the 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 for regulating the temperature during fermentation. A heating mat is also useful in winter for warming up kombucha.
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 a bottle cleaner brush in conjunction with this product for 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 reaction also breaks sugar down into carbon dioxide, and small amounts of ethanol. This is the reason kombucha can be called “the Champagne of Health.” Commercial kombucha typically contains less than 0.5% alcohol, which meets FDA regulations for a non-alcoholic label.
It is important that you use high-quality ingredients to brew your kombucha. You should choose a non-herbal, unflavored black or green tea with plain white or turbinado sugar to avoid flavors and oils that can compromise the brew. The sweetener will feed the SCOBY and be converted into vitamins and antioxidants during fermentation.
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 with a tight-weave cloth, like a bandana or old tee shirt. This allows airflow, but keeps fruit flies out and dust out.
Place your jar somewhere warm and dark. Ferment it for 7-10days. Check the jar occasionally and gently touch the surface of the scoby. This is normal. The scoby will become smoother and more uniform after each batch of kombucha that you brew. Keep your jars out of the sun, as it can make kombucha taste vinegary.
If you want to store your Kombucha in a dark area, make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much. If you have a large closet or cabinet, and you can open/close it frequently to promote airflow, this is a great option. 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 discover mold or fungi on your scoby, discard them 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!