Fermentaholics Kombucha

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 the immune system and reduce depression symptoms.

The FDA states that kombucha is safe to drink when brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha can be easy, cheap and convenient. The process is simple and requires minimal space.

Equipment

There are many manufacturers who offer systems that streamline the process and guarantee 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 narrow-mouth containers don’t allow enough air in 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 cleaning brush: Perfect for scrubbing tight corners and nooks to keep your bottles clean. Brewery wash is specially formulated to remove stubborn residues from jar surfaces and narrow necks. Use in conjunction with a bottle cleaning brush for the best results.

Ingredients

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 reaction also breaks sugar down into carbon dioxide, and small amounts of ethanol. This is the reason kombucha can be 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 that you use high-quality ingredients to brew your 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 is used to feed the SCOBY, which will then convert it into vitamins and antioxidants.

Scobys

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 tea with a cloth of a tight weave, such as a bandana, or an old t-shirt. 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 out of the sun, as it can make kombucha taste vinegary.

Storage

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 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.

Always use sterile equipment and clean hands when handling a SCOBY. It’s important to test your kombucha regularly for harmful bacteria and fungal growth.

If you find mold or fungi in your kombucha, discard it and start again. 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!