Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System
Kombucha contains beneficial bacteria and yeast, as well as other vitamins and minerals. It can help boost the 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 is simple and requires minimal space.
There are several manufacturers that offer systems to streamline the brewing process and ensure consistency. These systems are perfect for small commercial and home brewing.
Large glass container: Look for one or two-gallon containers that are solid without a spigot, especially ones with a wide neck (smaller surface area allows 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 for regulating the temperature during fermentation. A heating mat is also useful in winter for warming up kombucha.
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 a bottle cleaner brush in conjunction with this product for best results.
Kombucha, a fermented beverage, has been hailed for its health benefits. It is made by mixing a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast with a sweetened tea solution. The symbiotic culture creates a matrix called a biofilm. The biofilm contains lactic acid bacteria and yeast, which produce the acids and other substances that give kombucha its distinctive flavor and nutritional benefits.
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 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. 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 feeds the SCOBY during fermentation and is converted into vitamins, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
A scoby consists of bacteria and yeast which form a symbiotic relation and produce 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 has cooled to room temperature, pour it into your brewing vessel and add the scoby (store-bought is fine). Cover the scoby with a tightly-woven cloth, such as an old teeshirt or bandana. 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 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. Be sure to keep your jars away from sunlight, as light can cause the kombucha to taste vinegary.
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 choose to keep your brew in the cupboard, you may want to keep a starter tea handy in case you wish to re-start another 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 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!