Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha contains beneficial bacteria and yeast, as well as other 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 is easy, inexpensive and convenient. The process is simple and requires minimal space.
There are a number of manufacturers who offer systems designed to streamline the process and ensure consistency. These systems are perfect for small 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 to regulate the temperature of fermentation. In winter, a heating pad can be used to warm up kombucha if it is too cold.
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 a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast with a sweetened tea solution. The symbiotic method creates what is called a “biofilm”, a matrix of cells. 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 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.
When you brew your own kombucha, it is important to use high quality ingredients. 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 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 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.
Pour the tea into your brewing vessel once it has reached room temperature. Add the scoby. Cover the tea with a cloth of a tight weave, such as a bandana, or an old t-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.
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 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.
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 do discover mold or fungi, dump your kombucha and scoby and start over. Use the starter fluid from your SCOBY Hotel and re-start a new batch. Repeat this process until your SCOBY Hotel is always stocked with delicious Kombucha! Enjoy!