Making Kombucha

Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System

Kombucha contains beneficial bacteria and yeast, as well as other vitamins and minerals. It can help boost your immune system and reduce symptoms of depression.

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: 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. In winter, a heating pad can be used to warm up kombucha if it is too cold.

Long, flexible bottle brush: Ideal for cleaning tight corners and nooks. 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.

Ingredients

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been touted for its health benefits. It is made by mixing a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast with a sweetened tea solution. The symbiotic process creates a matrix of cells called a biofilm. 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 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.

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 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. This is normal. The scoby will become smoother and more uniform after each batch of kombucha that you brew. Keep your jars from the sunlight as light can cause kombucha’s taste to be 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 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 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 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!