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 your own kombucha is easy, inexpensive and convenient. The process requires minimal space and is simple.
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 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 and other narrow-mouth containers don’t allow enough air in during the fermentation process.
A thermometer is essential for controlling 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 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.
Kombucha is a tea that has been fermented and touted as having health benefits. It is produced by mixing a symbiotic bacteria and yeast culture with a sweetened solution of tea. The symbiotic method creates what is called a “biofilm”, a matrix of cells. 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 is typically less than 0.5% in alcohol, which meets FDA requirements for a nonalcoholic label.
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 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 buy a scoby online, or get one from friends and relatives who make kombucha.
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 in a warm, dark place and let it ferment for 7-10 days. The scoby will become smoother and more uniform with each batch of kombucha you brew. It is normal for the scoby to feel nubbly or rough. With each batch you brew, it will become smoother. Be sure to keep your jars away from sunlight, as light can cause the kombucha to taste vinegary.
If you want to store your Kombucha in a dark area, make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much. A closet or cabinet is a good option if it’s large enough and you open/close it often enough to promote airflow. If you decide to store your tea in a cabinet, keep a jar with starter tea nearby just in case you need to re-start the 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 discover mold or fungi on your scoby, discard them and start over. Use the starter fluid from your SCOBY Hotel and re-start a new batch. Repeat this process until your SCOBY Hotel is always stocked with delicious Kombucha! Enjoy!