Home Brew Kombucha

Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System

Kombucha contains beneficial bacteria and yeast, as well as other 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 can be easy, cheap and convenient. The process is simple and requires minimal space.

Equipment

There are a number of manufacturers who offer systems designed to streamline the process and ensure consistency. These are ideal for home and small commercial 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 containers with narrow mouths, don’t let enough air into the container during fermentation.

A thermometer. Often overlooked, but essential to regulate the temperature of fermentation. Also, a heating mat can be useful in winter to warm up kombucha that is too cold.

Long, flexible brush for bottle cleaning: Ideal for cleaning bottles in tight corners. Brewery wash: Specially formulated to remove stubborn residues that can form on jar surfaces and in narrow necks. Use a bottle cleaner brush in conjunction with this product for 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 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 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.

When you brew your own kombucha, it is important to use high quality ingredients. 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 feeds the SCOBY during fermentation and is converted into vitamins, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.

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 with a tight-weave cloth, like a bandana or old tee shirt. This allows airflow but keeps out fruit flies and dust.

Place the jar in a dark, warm place for 7-10 day. Check the jar periodically and gently touch the surface. This is normal. The scoby will become smoother and more uniform after each batch of kombucha that you brew. 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 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.

Remember to always handle a SCOBY with clean hands and to use sterilized equipment. It’s important to test your kombucha regularly for harmful bacteria and fungal growth.

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!