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 says kombucha poses no health risks when it’s brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha can be easy, cheap 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 or other containers with a narrow mouth do not allow enough oxygen to enter during the fermentation process.
A thermometer. Often overlooked, but essential to regulate the temperature of 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: Specially formulated to remove stubborn residues that can form on jar surfaces and in narrow necks. Use a bottle cleaner brush in conjunction with this product for 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 culture creates a matrix 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 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 feeds the SCOBY during fermentation and is converted into vitamins, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
A scoby is made up of bacteria and fungi that form a symbiotic partnership and make 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 is at room temperature, add the scoby to your brewing vessel (store-bought scobys are fine). Cover the scoby with a tightly-woven cloth, such as an old teeshirt or bandana. This allows airflow but keeps out fruit flies and dust.
Place your jar somewhere warm and dark. Ferment it for 7-10days. Check the jar periodically and gently touch the surface. It is normal for the scoby to feel nubbly or rough. With each batch you brew, it will become smoother. Keep your jars from the sunlight as light can cause kombucha’s taste to be 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 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 discover mold or fungi on your scoby, discard them and start over. Use the starter liquid in your SCOBY Hotel for your next batch. Continue this process until you have a constant supply. Enjoy!