Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha contains beneficial bacteria and yeast, as well as other 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 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 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 to regulate the temperature of fermentation. A heating mat is also useful in winter for warming up kombucha.
Long, flexible bottle cleaning brush: Perfect for scrubbing tight corners and nooks to keep your bottles clean. 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 fermented tea that has been touted for its 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 fermentation also breaks down sugar to carbon dioxide and small amounts alcohol. This is why kombucha has been called “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 to use only high-quality ingredients when you make your own 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 will feed the SCOBY and be converted into vitamins and antioxidants during fermentation.
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.
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 for airflow while keeping out fruit flies, dust and other contaminants.
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. Be sure to keep your jars away from sunlight, as light can cause the kombucha to taste vinegary.
When storing your Kombucha, find a dark spot where the temperature won’t fluctuate too much. If you have a large closet or cabinet, and you can open/close it frequently to promote airflow, this is a great option. 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 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 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!