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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 your immune system and reduce symptoms of depression.

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.

Equipment

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: Choose a one- or two-gallon container that is solid and without a spigot. Look for ones with a wideneck (a smaller surface area allows for 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. Also, a heating mat can be useful in winter to warm up kombucha that 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 with a bottle brush to get the best results.

Ingredients

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 is made up of lactic acid bacteria, yeast and other substances. These acids and substances give kombucha a distinctive flavor and nutritional benefits.

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 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. 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 will feed the SCOBY and be converted into vitamins and antioxidants during fermentation.

Scobys

A scoby is a collection of bacteria and yeast that form a symbiotic relationship and make kombucha tea. You can get a scoby from friends or relatives who make kombucha, buy one online or attend a workshop where they will provide you with 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 the jar in a dark, warm place for 7-10 day. Check the jar periodically and gently touch the surface. 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.

Storage

Find a dark place to store your Kombucha where the temperature will not 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 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.

Remember to always handle a SCOBY with clean hands and to use sterilized equipment. 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!