Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha is rich in beneficial bacteria, yeast and vitamins and minerals. It can boost your immune system, and reduce depression symptoms.
The FDA has stated that kombucha does not pose any health risks if it is brewed correctly. Brewing kombucha at home is simple, inexpensive, and convenient. The process is easy and requires little space.
There are a number of manufacturers who offer systems designed to streamline the process and ensure consistency. These are ideal for small-scale 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 or other containers with a narrow mouth do not allow enough oxygen to enter during the fermentation process.
A thermometer. Often overlooked, but essential to regulate the temperature of fermentation. In winter, a heating pad can be used to warm up kombucha if it 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 with a bottle brush to get the 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.
When you brew your own kombucha, it is important to use high quality ingredients. To avoid flavors and oils from compromising the brew, you should use a plain white or turbinado or black tea without any herbs. The sweetener feeds the SCOBY during fermentation and is converted into vitamins, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
A scoby is made up of bacteria and fungi that form a symbiotic partnership and make kombucha. You can get a scoby from friends or relatives who make kombucha, buy one online or attend a workshop where they will provide you with 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 out of the sun, as it can make kombucha 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 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 also important to regularly test your kombucha for harmful bacteria and fungi.
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!