Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha is rich in beneficial bacteria, yeast and vitamins and minerals. It can help boost your immune system and reduce symptoms of depression.
The FDA states that kombucha is safe to drink when brewed correctly. Brewing kombucha at home is simple, inexpensive, and convenient. The process requires minimal space and is simple.
There are a number of manufacturers who offer systems designed to streamline the process and ensure consistency. These are ideal for small-scale commercial and home 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 narrow-mouth containers don’t allow enough air in during the fermentation process.
A thermometer: Often overlooked but essential for regulating the temperature during fermentation. In winter, a heating pad can be used to warm up kombucha if it is too cold.
Long, flexible brush for bottle cleaning: Ideal for cleaning bottles in tight corners. Brewery wash is specially formulated to remove stubborn residues from jar surfaces and narrow necks. Use with a bottle brush to get the best results.
Kombucha is a tea that has been fermented and touted as having health benefits. It is made by mixing bacteria and yeast in a symbiotic solution with sweetened tea. The symbiotic method creates what is called a “biofilm”, a matrix of cells. The biofilm contains lactic acid bacteria and yeast, which produce the acids and other substances that give kombucha its distinctive flavor and nutritional benefits.
The symbiotic fermentation also breaks down sugar to carbon dioxide and small amounts alcohol. This is why kombucha has been called “the champagne of health.” Commercial kombucha is typically less than 0.5% in alcohol, which meets FDA requirements for a nonalcoholic label.
It is important to use only high-quality ingredients when you make your own kombucha. To avoid flavors and oils from compromising the brew, you should use a plain white or turbinado or black tea without any herbs. The sweetener feeds the SCOBY during fermentation and is converted into vitamins, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
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.
Pour the tea into your brewing vessel once it has reached room temperature. Add the scoby. Cover the tea with a cloth of a tight weave, such as a bandana, or an old t-shirt. This allows airflow, but keeps fruit flies out and dust out.
Place your jar in a warm, dark place and let it ferment for 7-10 days. The scoby will become smoother and more uniform with each batch of kombucha you brew. It is normal for the scoby to feel nubbly or rough. With each batch you brew, it will become smoother. Be sure to keep your jars away from sunlight, as light can cause the kombucha to taste vinegary.
If you want to store your Kombucha in a dark area, make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate 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 decide to store your tea in a cabinet, keep a jar with starter tea nearby just in case you need to re-start the batch.
Always use sterile equipment and clean hands when handling a SCOBY. It’s important to test your kombucha regularly for harmful bacteria and fungal growth.
If you discover mold or fungi on your scoby, discard them and start over. Use the starter liquid from your SCOBY Hotel to re-start your next batch and continue this process until you’ve got a constant supply of delicious Kombucha on hand! Enjoy!