So, you're warming up to the idea of making kombucha at home, but not sure exactly what you'll need.
We have good news! Making kombucha at home requires only two, very simple supplies: a brewing vessel and cover. It's that simple!
There are a few other supplies that can come in handy for brewing, but aside from these two items, everything else is optional. Keep in mind the below tips when picking out a container and cover and you'll be ready to make homemade kombucha in no time.
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Kombucha Brewing Container
Material Options: What to Use
- Glass. Glass is the best option for brewing kombucha. Not only will it not react to the acidity of the brew, it doesn't scratch easily or contain chemicals such as BPA. Glass containers are also easy and inexpensive to obtain. Canning jars and storage jars in quart, half-gallon, and gallon sizes work well. For continuous brew systems a larger glass jar with spigot is a good choice. Be sure the spigot inside the jar is plastic, not metal, as metal can damage the kombucha SCOBY. This Kombucha Brewing Jar by Mortier Pilon is specially designed for continuous kombucha brewing and even includes a lid with a re-writable label to make it easy to keep track of your batches.
- Ceramic. If you would like to culture kombucha in a ceramic container, check to make sure the glaze is food-grade to prevent potential contact with lead.
- Porcelain. Porcelain is generally safe for brewing kombucha, as long as it is food-grade. Avoid porcelain pieces such as vases or decorative pottery that are not food-grade.
Material Options: What to Avoid
- Plastic. We do not recommend using plastic containers for brewing kombucha. Plastic is easily damaged, and scratches in the plastic can harbor foreign bacteria. Plastic, even food-grade, may contain undesirable chemicals that can be harmful to the kombucha SCOBY.
- Crystal. Because crystal contains lead we do not advise using crystal to brew kombucha.
- Metal. Metal is generally detrimental to kombucha. The only possible exception is stainless steel. Because it is relatively inert, some brewers feel it is a reasonable alternative to glass. While we do not recommend using it, some people do have success doing so.
What Size Container to Use
You can brew kombucha in any size container, provided it is large enough to hold all the kombucha ingredients while maintaining the correct ingredient ratios. (When activating a dehydrated kombucha SCOBY, be sure to follow the ingredient amounts included in the instructions.)
When choosing a container size, consider that kombucha brewing time is 7 to 30 days. The batch size should be large enough to provide kombucha for drinking plus starter tea needed for the next batch.
For instance, if you are making kombucha in a quart-sized canning jar, that holds about 4 cups of liquid. You will need to use at least a 1/2 cup of that kombucha as starter tea for your next batch. So you will have about 3 1/2 cups of finished kombucha left to drink until your next batch is finished culturing.
Be Aware of Surface Area
Since the surface area at the top of the liquid will influence the rate at which kombucha brews, keep in mind the size of the surface area when choosing a container.
A brew with a 9-inch diameter surface will culture significantly faster than a brew with a 3-inch diameter surface. While it may be tempting to speed up the fermentation process by using a container with a larger surface area, faster isn’t necessarily better.
If your kombucha gets fermenting too quickly, the batch may become quite vinegary in flavor. In short, be aware that the size of the surface area may affect how fast your kombucha ferments, and be ready to adjust you fermentation time accordingly. Learn more by reading How Surface Area Affects Kombucha Brewing Time.
Covering the Kombucha Brewing Container
Fermenting kombucha tea can tend to attract fruit flies and other critters. To keep these out, you'll want to cover your brewing container to protect your kombucha and SCOBY. Keep in mind the following when choosing a cover:
- A coffee filter or tight-weave dish towel, secured with a rubber band, is an excellent choice.
- Butter muslin is another good option. It can be cut and layered to fit the top of a container.
- Canning jar rings that come with mason jars work well to secure fabric over the top of the jar.
- Avoid loose-weave fabric or screens, as these will not keep out tiny bugs like ants and fruit flies.
- Do not use a tight lid. In order for your kombucha to ferment effectively, it needs sufficient airflow. A tight lid will inhibit this airflow and prevent your kombucha from fermenting properly.
While by no means required, a few additional supplies that can be helpful while brewing kombucha.
1. Mesh Tea Ball
Mesh tea balls come in handy when using loose tea to brew kombucha. Metal tea balls are fine to use, as they will be removed before the SCOBY and starter tea are added.
2. Re-Usable Tea Bags
Re-usable cotton tea bags are great for any size batch of kombucha. These also work well for steeping loose leaf tea.
3. Plastic Strainer
A plastic strainer, while not necessary, can certainly be useful for making homemade kombucha. Use it to strain yeast strings from finished kombucha or scoop out the SCOBY. We carry BPA-free plastic strainers in two sizes which are great for other culturing projects too, like making milk kefir and water kefir. They are available individually or as part of our flavored kombucha kits.
Bottles with a tight seal such as our Grolsch-Style Flip-Top Bottles work well for making a fizzy finished kombucha tea. If you're looking to make flavored kombucha, but not sure if you want to invest in a full 12-bottle case, our flavor kombucha kits offer a great solution! In addition to a SCOBY and flavorings they include two flip-top bottles to get you started bottling!
If you choose to bottle your finished kombucha for extra fizz, having a funnel can make the process a lot easier. We carry silicone funnels that work well. The best part is that they are collapsible and easy to store when not in use.
6. Stick-On Thermometer
Temperature plays an important role in home-brewed kombucha. Kombucha starter cultures work best at a cozy room temperature - too cold and they're sluggish, too warm and you'll be left with vinegar instead of sweet tea. Stick-on thermometers are an easy, hassle-free way to keep an eye on the temperature of your culturing kombucha without having to constantly test the temperature of your culturing area. They are available individually or as part of the Kombucha Tea Starter Kit.
DIY Kombucha Kits
Although with a glass jar and cover you're about set to make kombucha, if you're just starting out and looking for a bit more guidance, consider trying a DIY Kombucha Kit. These kits include hand-picked ingredients and supplies to make home kombucha brewing as easy as possible. All you supply is a jar, plain white sugar, and distilled white vinegar as needed.