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 says kombucha poses no health risks when it’s brewed correctly. Brewing kombucha at home is simple, inexpensive, 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 systems are perfect for small 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 to regulate the temperature of 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: Specially formulated to remove stubborn residues that can form on jar surfaces and in narrow necks. Use with a bottle brush to get the 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 contains lactic-acid bacteria and yeast that produce acids and other substances which give kombucha it’s distinctive flavor and nutritional value.
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 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 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 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 for airflow while keeping out fruit flies, dust and other contaminants.
Place your jar somewhere warm and dark. Ferment it for 7-10days. 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. Be sure to keep your jars away from sunlight, as light can cause the kombucha to taste vinegary.
Find a dark place to store your Kombucha where the temperature will not fluctuate too much. A large cabinet or closet is a good choice if you open and close it often enough. 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.
Remember to always handle a SCOBY with clean hands and to use sterilized equipment. It’s also important to regularly test your kombucha for harmful bacteria and fungi.
If you discover mold or fungi on your scoby, discard them and start over. 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!