Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha is rich in beneficial bacteria, yeast and vitamins and minerals. It can help boost your immune system and reduce symptoms of depression.
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 easy and requires little space.
There are a number of manufacturers who offer systems designed to streamline the process and ensure consistency. These systems are perfect for small 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, 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. A heating mat is also useful in winter for warming up kombucha.
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 with a bottle brush to get the best results.
Kombucha, a fermented beverage, has been hailed 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 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.
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.
A scoby is made up of bacteria and fungi that form a symbiotic partnership and make kombucha. 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 is at room temperature, add the scoby to your brewing vessel (store-bought scobys are fine). Cover the scoby with a tightly-woven cloth, such as an old teeshirt or bandana. 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.
If you want to store your Kombucha in a dark area, make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate 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 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 do discover mold or fungi, dump your kombucha and scoby 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!