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 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 is easy and requires little space.
There are several manufacturers that offer systems to streamline the brewing 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 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. Also, a heating mat can be useful in winter to warm up kombucha that 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 a bottle cleaner brush in conjunction with this product for best results.
Kombucha, a fermented beverage, has been hailed for its health benefits. It is produced by mixing a symbiotic bacteria and yeast culture with a sweetened solution of tea. The symbiotic culture creates a matrix 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 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. 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 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 tea with a cloth of a tight weave, such as a bandana, or an old t-shirt. 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. Keep your jars out of the sun, as it can make kombucha taste vinegary.
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 choose to keep your brew in the cupboard, you may want to keep a starter tea handy in case you wish to re-start another batch.
Always handle a SCOBY using clean hands, and use sterile tools. It’s important to test your kombucha regularly for harmful bacteria and fungal growth.
If you find mold or fungi in your kombucha, discard it and start again. Use the starter liquid in your SCOBY Hotel for your next batch. Continue this process until you have a constant supply. Enjoy!