First Brew

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 has stated that kombucha does not pose any health risks if it is brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha is easy, 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 – Look for a large, solid, two-gallon glass container without a lid. It should have a wide neck to allow more oxygen in. Mason jars, and other containers with narrow mouths, don’t let enough air into the container during fermentation.

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 a bottle cleaner brush in conjunction with this product for 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 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 typically contains less than 0.5% alcohol, which meets FDA regulations for a non-alcoholic label.

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

Scobys

A scoby is made up of bacteria and fungi that form a symbiotic partnership and make 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 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.

Storage

If you want to store your Kombucha in a dark area, make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate 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.

Always handle a SCOBY using clean hands, and use sterile tools. It’s important to test your kombucha regularly for harmful bacteria and fungal growth.

If you do discover mold or fungi, dump your kombucha and scoby 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!