Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha is rich in beneficial bacteria, yeast and 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.
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 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, a fermented beverage, has been hailed for its 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 contains lactic acid bacteria and yeast, which produce the acids and other substances that give kombucha its 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 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. 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 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 fruit flies out and dust out.
Place the jar in a dark, warm place for 7-10 day. 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 from the sunlight as light can cause kombucha’s taste to be vinegary.
When storing your Kombucha, find a dark spot where the temperature won’t fluctuate too 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 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 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!