The ultimate brewing and fermentation guide
Equipment for making kombucha at home

From glass jars for fermentation to brewing thermometers for temperature control, here is a list of the essential items you will need to get started making kombucha. So, gather your tools and get ready to dive into the art of kombucha brewing!

What kind of glass jar or fermentation vessel do i need?

Glass jars are commonly used for kombucha brewing due to their non-reactive nature and ease of cleaning. They allow you to observe the fermentation process and monitor the health of your SCOBY.

The recommended size and type of glass brewing vessel for kombucha depends on your brewing goals and batch size. A common size for home brewing is a 1-gallon (3.8 liters) glass jar. This size allows for a manageable batch size and is suitable for most home brewing setups. It provides ample space for the SCOBY to grow and ferment the tea while still being easily handled and stored.

Opt for a wide-mouthed glass jar or fermentation vessel. This shape makes it easier to add ingredients, clean the vessel, and handle the SCOBY during brewing. It also allows for better airflow and surface area exposure, which can benefit the fermentation process.

Choose a glass vessel made from food-grade, non-reactive glass. Avoid containers with lead crystal or other materials that may leach chemicals into the kombucha. Look for jars specifically designed for food and beverage use, ensuring they are free from any harmful coatings or additives.

Invest in a sturdy, well-made glass vessel that can withstand the pressure of carbonation during the secondary fermentation if you choose to do so. Ensure the vessel has a secure lid or can be covered with a breathable cloth and secured with a rubber band to protect the kombucha from contaminants while allowing gases to escape.

Other viable brewing vessels:

Ceramic Crocks

Ceramic crocks are visually appealing and can provide excellent insulation, maintaining a stable fermentation temperature. They are often larger in capacity, allowing for larger batch sizes but they can be heavy and more challenging to clean. They may also be more expensive than other options.

Food-Grade Plastic Containers

Plastic containers are lightweight, durable, and less prone to breakage. They are also less expensive than glass or ceramic vessels. Some concerns do exist about the potential leaching of chemicals from plastic into the kombucha, especially if the plastic is not food-grade or if it is subjected to high temperatures.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel vessels are durable, easy to clean, and resistant to corrosion. They offer good temperature control and can be a suitable option for large-scale commercial brewing. On the down side, stainless steel can be expensive for home brewing purposes. It also lacks the visual aspect of observing the fermentation process compared to transparent glass jars.

What kind of cloth cover or breathable lid should i use for making kombucha?

We suggest using a tightly woven, natural fabric such as muslin cloth or cheesecloth. These types of cloth allow for adequate airflow while keeping out insects and dust. They strike a balance between allowing gases produced during fermentation to escape and preventing contaminants from entering the brew. Muslin cloth, in particular, is a popular choice as it is lightweight, durable, and readily available. When using a breathable cloth, ensure it completely covers the opening of the brewing vessel and can be secured tightly with a rubber band or string to maintain a snug fit. This will help create an optimal fermentation environment for your kombucha.

What kind of rubber band or string should i use to secure my cloth cover?

For securing the cloth cover, you have a few options:

Rubber Bands

Use standard-sized rubber bands that are wide enough to hold the cloth securely in place. Make sure the rubber band is clean and in good condition to avoid any potential contamination.

String or Twine

If you prefer not to use rubber bands, you can use food-safe string or twine. Choose a natural material like cotton or hemp, and tie it tightly around the rim of the fermentation vessel to secure the cloth cover. Ensure the string is clean and doesn’t contain any coatings or synthetic materials.

When selecting a rubber band or string, prioritize materials that are food-safe and free from any potentially harmful additives. Avoid using rubber bands or strings that have been treated with chemicals or dyes. Remember to sanitize the rubber band or string before using it to secure the cloth cover. Maintaining a clean and sanitary brewing environment is essential for a successful fermentation process.

What kind of brewing thermometer should i use for my kombucha brew?

A brewing thermometer helps you monitor the temperature of the kombucha during fermentation. It ensures that the environment remains suitable for the kombucha culture.

Opt for a digital thermometer for precise temperature readings. Digital thermometers are generally more accurate and easier to read than analog ones. Ensure the thermometer has a temperature range that covers the optimal fermentation temperature range for kombucha, which is typically between 68°F and 78°F (20°C to 26°C). Having a wider range is beneficial if you plan to brew other fermented beverages or foods that require different temperature ranges. Consider the length of the thermometer probe. A longer probe can reach deeper into the liquid to provide more accurate temperature readings. Make sure the probe is long enough to reach the liquid without touching the sides or bottom of the container. Look for a thermometer with a quick response time, allowing you to get an accurate reading almost instantly.

Since brewing kombucha involves working with liquid, choose a waterproof thermometer that is easy to clean and sanitize after each use. Remember to sanitize the probe before each use to maintain cleanliness and prevent any potential contamination.

What are the best pH Strips or pH Tester for making kombucha?

pH strips or a pH tester are used to monitor the acidity level of your kombucha. This helps ensure that the pH remains within the safe range during fermentation.

Ensure the pH strips or pH tester cover the appropriate pH range for kombucha. Look for options that specifically indicate a range suitable for measuring acidity in the range of 3.0 to 3.5. Opt for pH strips or a pH tester with clear color indicators or digital displays that are easy to read. Ensure that the strips or tester provide distinct color changes within the desired pH range for accurate interpretation. Choose pH strips or a pH tester that are easy to use and provide clear instructions for accurate testing. If you prefer simplicity, pH strips are generally straightforward and convenient to use.

It’s worth noting that pH strips may have a shelf life and can lose accuracy over time. Therefore, periodic replacement or calibration may be necessary to maintain accurate readings.

Brewing Spoon or Utensil

The best brewing spoon or utensil for making kombucha is a long-handled, non-metallic utensil made of food-safe materials such as bamboo or food-grade plastic. These materials are non-reactive and won’t introduce any unwanted flavors or react with the acidic environment of kombucha. Choose a spoon or utensil that is easy to clean and sanitize between uses to maintain a hygienic brewing environment. Avoid using metal utensils as they can react with the kombucha, potentially impacting the flavor and health of the SCOBY culture.

What bottles or jars with airtight lids are best for making my second ferment of kombucha?

The best bottles or jars for the second fermentation of kombucha are glass bottles with airtight swing-top or flip-top lids. These types of lids create a strong seal, preventing carbonation from escaping while allowing for easy opening and closing. Glass bottles are ideal as they are non-reactive, preserving the flavor and quality of the kombucha. It is important to choose bottles that can withstand pressure from carbonation, ensuring they are specifically designed for brewing and bottling carbonated beverages.

What is a good funnel to use in making kombucha?

We recommend a food-grade, wide-mouthed funnel made of durable and non-reactive materials such as stainless steel or food-grade plastic. Look for a funnel with a wide opening to facilitate easy pouring of the brewed kombucha into bottles or jars without spills. The funnel should be easy to clean and sanitize between uses to maintain a hygienic brewing environment. Choose a size that fits well with the containers you plan to use for bottling your kombucha.

What kind of strainer should i use to make kombucha?

A fine-mesh, stainless steel strainer is recommended for making kombucha. It effectively filters out any sediment or small culture remnants, ensuring a smooth and clean final product. The fine mesh helps prevent unwanted particles from passing through while allowing the liquid to flow freely. Stainless steel is a durable and non-reactive material that can be easily cleaned and sanitized, making it ideal for use in the kombucha brewing process.

What measuring cups and spoons should i use to make kombucha?

It is best to use a set of food-grade, non-reactive measuring cups and spoons made of materials such as stainless steel or food-grade plastic. Look for measuring cups and spoons that provide accurate measurements and are easy to clean. Stainless steel is durable, resistant to corrosion, and doesn’t react with acidic ingredients. Food-grade plastic is also a viable option, ensuring it is free from harmful additives. Choose a set that includes the common measurements required for kombucha recipes, such as tablespoons, teaspoons, and cups, to ensure precise and consistent measurements.

Do i need a brew heater or heating mat to brew my kombucha?

A brew heater or heating mat for kombucha fermentation may be necessary in cooler environments or during colder seasons when the ambient temperature falls below the ideal range for kombucha fermentation, which is typically around 68°F to 78°F (20°C to 26°C). Maintaining a consistent and optimal temperature is crucial for the health and activity of the kombucha culture. A brew heater or heating mat helps provide the warmth needed for proper fermentation, ensuring a successful brew and avoiding potential issues caused by temperature fluctuations.

One popular option is a brew belt – a flexible heating strip that wraps around the fermentation jar, providing gentle heat to maintain a consistent temperature. It typically has an adjustable thermostat to regulate the heat output. Brew belts are convenient and versatile, as they can fit various vessel sizes.

Alternatively, a heating mat is a flat, waterproof pad that is placed beneath the fermentation vessel. It provides a uniform heat distribution and helps maintain a stable temperature. Heating mats often come with adjustable temperature settings and built-in safety features.

How to choose a kombucha Scoby (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)

The SCOBY is the living culture responsible for fermenting the tea. It resembles a rubbery disk and contains beneficial bacteria and yeast. When choosing a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) it is ideal to acquire one from a trusted source, such as a local kombucha brewer or a reputable supplier. Look for a healthy-looking SCOBY that appears white or cream-colored, with a smooth texture and no signs of mold or discoloration. It should have a slightly rubbery consistency and may come with starter liquid. Choosing a well-established SCOBY with a good reputation increases the likelihood of successful fermentation. If possible, ask for recommendations or seek out local communities where experienced brewers can share or sell their SCOBY cultures.

These essential pieces of equipment will help you get started on your kombucha brewing journey. As you gain experience and explore more advanced techniques, you may choose to expand your equipment collection to include additional accessories for flavoring, carbonation control, or continuous brewing setups.

If you have the basics but are looking to upgrade a few components to make your system that bit slicker and more stylish, check out our advanced equipment wish list for advanced brewers.

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