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 is easy and requires little space.
There are many manufacturers who offer systems that streamline the process and guarantee 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 for regulating the temperature during fermentation. Also, a heating mat can be useful in winter to warm up kombucha that 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 in conjunction with a bottle cleaning brush for the best results.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been touted for its health benefits. It is produced by mixing a symbiotic bacteria and yeast culture with a sweetened solution of tea. The symbiotic process creates a matrix of cells 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 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 typically contains less than 0.5% alcohol, which meets FDA regulations for a non-alcoholic label.
It is important to use only high-quality ingredients when you make your own kombucha. 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 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 has cooled to room temperature, pour it into your brewing vessel and add the scoby (store-bought is 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 in a warm, dark place and let it ferment for 7-10 days. 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. 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. 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 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’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!