Starting Kombucha

Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System

Kombucha is a healthy beverage that contains beneficial bacteria and yeast. It also contains vitamins and minerals. It can help boost the immune system and reduce depression symptoms.

The FDA states that kombucha is safe to drink when brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha can be easy, cheap and convenient. The process is easy and requires little space.

Equipment

There are many manufacturers who offer systems that streamline the process and guarantee 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: 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 for removing stubborn residues which can form on jars surfaces and in narrow necks. Use with a bottle brush to get the best results.

Ingredients

Kombucha, a fermented beverage, has been hailed for its health benefits. It is produced by mixing a symbiotic bacteria and yeast culture with a sweetened solution of tea. The symbiotic process creates a matrix of cells 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 reaction also breaks sugar down into carbon dioxide, and small amounts of ethanol. This is the reason kombucha can be 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 to use only high-quality ingredients when you make your own 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.

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 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 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

Find a dark place to store your Kombucha where the temperature will not fluctuate too much. A closet or cabinet is a good option if it’s large enough and you open/close it often enough to promote airflow. 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.

Remember to always handle a SCOBY with clean hands and to use sterilized equipment. It’s important to test your kombucha regularly for harmful bacteria and fungal growth.

If you find mold or fungi in your kombucha, discard it and start again. 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!