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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 states that kombucha is safe to drink when brewed correctly. Brewing kombucha at home is simple, inexpensive, and convenient. The process is simple and requires minimal space.

Equipment

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

A thermometer: Often overlooked but essential for regulating the temperature during fermentation. A heating mat is also useful in winter for warming up kombucha.

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 is a fermented tea that has been touted for its 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, which produce the acids and other substances that give kombucha its 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.

It is important to use only high-quality ingredients when you make your own kombucha. 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 will feed the SCOBY and be converted into vitamins and antioxidants during fermentation.

Scobys

A scoby is a collection of bacteria and yeast that form a symbiotic relationship and make kombucha tea. 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 with a tight-weave cloth, like a bandana or old tee shirt. 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. 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.

Storage

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 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.

Remember to always handle a SCOBY with clean hands and to use sterilized equipment. 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 liquid in your SCOBY Hotel for your next batch. Continue this process until you have a constant supply. Enjoy!