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 is easy, inexpensive and convenient. The process is easy and requires little space.
There are many manufacturers who offer systems that streamline the process and guarantee 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, 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. 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.
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 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 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 is at room temperature, add the scoby to your brewing vessel (store-bought scobys are 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 your jar in a warm, dark place and let it ferment for 7-10 days. Check the jar occasionally and gently touch the surface of the scoby. 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.
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 do choose to store your brew in a cupboard, consider keeping a jar of starter tea nearby in case you want to re-start a batch.
Always use sterile equipment and clean hands when handling a SCOBY. It’s also important to regularly test your kombucha for harmful bacteria and fungi.
If you do discover mold or fungi, dump your kombucha and scoby and start over. Use the starter liquid in your SCOBY Hotel for your next batch. Continue this process until you have a constant supply. Enjoy!