Kombucha Starter Tea

Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System

Kombucha is rich in beneficial bacteria, yeast and vitamins and minerals. It can boost your immune system, and reduce depression symptoms.

The FDA says kombucha poses no health risks when it’s brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha is easy, inexpensive and convenient. The process requires minimal space and is simple.

Equipment

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 – Look for a large, solid, two-gallon glass container without a lid. It should have a wide neck to allow more oxygen in. Mason jars or other containers with a narrow mouth do not allow enough oxygen to enter 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 brush for bottle cleaning: Ideal for cleaning bottles in tight corners. 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.

Ingredients

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 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 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 that you use high-quality ingredients to brew your 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 is used to feed the SCOBY, which will then convert it into vitamins and antioxidants.

Scobys

A scoby consists of bacteria and yeast which form a symbiotic relation and produce 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 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 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. Keep your jars out of the sun, as it can make kombucha taste vinegary.

Storage

Find a dark place to store your Kombucha where the temperature will not 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.

Always use sterile equipment and clean hands when handling a SCOBY. It’s also important to regularly test your kombucha for harmful bacteria and fungi.

If you discover mold or fungi on your scoby, discard them 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!