Brewing High Alcohol Kombucha

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 has stated that kombucha does not pose any health risks if it is brewed correctly. Brewing kombucha at home is simple, inexpensive, and convenient. The process requires minimal space and is simple.

Equipment

There are many manufacturers who offer systems that streamline the process and guarantee 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 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 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 produced by mixing a symbiotic bacteria and yeast culture with a sweetened solution of tea. The symbiotic process creates a matrix of cells called a biofilm. 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 typically contains less than 0.5% alcohol, which meets FDA regulations for a non-alcoholic label.

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 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 is at room temperature, add the scoby to your brewing vessel (store-bought scobys are fine). Cover with a tight-weave cloth, like a bandana or old tee shirt. This allows for airflow while keeping out fruit flies, dust and other contaminants.

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

If you want to store your Kombucha in a dark area, make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much. A large cabinet or closet is a good choice if you open and close it often enough. 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.

Always use sterile equipment and clean hands when handling a SCOBY. It is also important to test your Kombucha regularly for harmful fungi and bacteria.

If you find mold or fungi in your kombucha, discard it and start again. 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!