Brewing Kombucha Tea Leaves

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 states that kombucha is safe to drink when brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha can be easy, cheap and convenient. The process requires minimal space and is simple.

Equipment

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 or other containers with a narrow mouth do not allow enough oxygen to enter during the fermentation process.

A thermometer is essential for controlling 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.

Ingredients

Kombucha, a fermented beverage, has been hailed for its health benefits. It is made by mixing bacteria and yeast in a symbiotic solution with sweetened tea. 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 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 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 feeds the SCOBY during fermentation and is converted into vitamins, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.

Scobys

A scoby consists of bacteria and yeast which form a symbiotic relation and produce kombucha. You can buy a scoby online, or get one from friends and relatives who make kombucha.

Once the tea is at room temperature, add the scoby to your brewing vessel (store-bought scobys are 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. It is normal for the scoby to feel nubbly or rough. With each batch you brew, it will become smoother. Keep your jars out of the sun, as it can make kombucha taste vinegary.

Storage

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 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 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!