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 says kombucha poses no health risks when it’s brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha can be easy, cheap and convenient. The process is easy and requires little space.
There are several manufacturers that offer systems to streamline the brewing process and ensure consistency. These systems are perfect for small 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 to regulate the temperature of fermentation. A heating mat is also useful in winter for warming up kombucha.
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 made by mixing bacteria and yeast in a symbiotic solution with sweetened tea. The symbiotic culture creates a matrix called a biofilm. The biofilm contains lactic-acid bacteria and yeast that produce acids and other substances which give kombucha it’s distinctive flavor and nutritional value.
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. 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 is a collection of bacteria and yeast that form a symbiotic relationship and make kombucha tea. 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.
Pour the tea into your brewing vessel once it has reached room temperature. Add the scoby. 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. 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 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’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 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!