Kombucha Brewing Guide

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 has stated that kombucha does not pose any health risks if it is brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha can be easy, cheap and convenient. The process is simple and requires minimal space.

Equipment

There are a number of manufacturers who offer systems designed to streamline the process and ensure 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 or other containers with a narrow mouth do not allow enough oxygen to enter during the fermentation process.

A thermometer is essential for controlling the temperature during fermentation. In winter, a heating pad can be used to warm up kombucha if it is too cold.

Long, flexible brush for bottle cleaning: Ideal for cleaning bottles in tight corners. Brewery wash is specially formulated to remove stubborn residues from jar surfaces and narrow necks. Use a bottle cleaner brush in conjunction with this product for best results.

Ingredients

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been touted for its health benefits. It is produced by mixing a symbiotic bacteria and yeast culture with a sweetened solution of 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. 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.

Scobys

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.

Pour the tea into your brewing vessel once it has reached room temperature. Add the scoby. Cover with a tight-weave cloth, like a bandana or old tee shirt. This allows for airflow while keeping out fruit flies, dust and other contaminants.

Place your jar somewhere warm and dark. Ferment it for 7-10days. 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.

Storage

When storing your Kombucha, find a dark spot where the temperature won’t 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 handle a SCOBY using clean hands, and use sterile tools. It is also important to test your Kombucha regularly for harmful fungi and bacteria.

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!