Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha contains beneficial bacteria and yeast, as well as other vitamins and minerals. It can boost your 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 narrow-mouth containers don’t allow enough air in during the fermentation process.
A thermometer. Often overlooked, but essential to regulate the temperature of 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 is specially formulated to remove stubborn residues from jar surfaces and 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 method creates what is called a “biofilm”, a matrix of cells. 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 typically contains less than 0.5% alcohol, which meets FDA regulations for a non-alcoholic label.
It is important that you use high-quality ingredients to brew your kombucha. You should choose a non-herbal, unflavored black or green tea with plain white or turbinado sugar to avoid flavors and oils that can 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 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 with a tight-weave cloth, like a bandana or old tee 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 occasionally and gently touch the surface of the scoby. It is normal for the scoby to feel nubbly or rough. With each batch you brew, it will become smoother. Keep your jars out of the sun, as it can make kombucha taste vinegary.
If you want to store your Kombucha in a dark area, make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate 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 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 handle a SCOBY using clean hands, and use sterile tools. It’s also important to regularly test your kombucha for harmful bacteria and fungi.
If you find mold or fungi in your kombucha, discard it and start again. Use the starter liquid in your SCOBY Hotel for your next batch. Continue this process until you have a constant supply. Enjoy!