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 states that kombucha is safe to drink when brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha can be easy, cheap and convenient. The process requires minimal space and is simple.
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 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 bottle brush: Ideal for cleaning tight corners and nooks. Brewery Wash: Specially formulated for removing stubborn residues which can form on jars surfaces and in narrow necks. Use in conjunction with a bottle cleaning brush for the best results.
Kombucha is a tea that has been fermented and touted as having health benefits. It is made by mixing a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast with a sweetened tea solution. The symbiotic process creates a matrix of cells 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 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 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 fruit flies out and dust out.
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. 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. Be sure to keep your jars away from sunlight, as light can cause the kombucha to taste 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 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 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!