Crock Brewing instructions
How to make Kombucha Using the continuous brewing method using a Porcelain Crock
We advise that you read the instructions in full to familiarise yourself with them before beginning. If you are unsure about anything get in touch as we are always happy to help,
A few important notes before we get started;
- BEFORE FILLING YOUR CROCK YOU MUST CONDITION YOUR TAP As the tap on our Porcelain Crock is sealed with a natural cork bung it is vital that you condition your tap/bung before filling your crock.To condition your tap/bung you must fill your crock with tap water and leave it for at least 24 hours (48-72* would be even better, the longer the cork is soaked the better the seal will be). If you can also stand the crock in a basin of water so that it conditions from the outside and inside it will seal better. It is normal for the tap/bung to leak slightly during the conditioning process, once the bung has been conditioned it will swell and securely seal in the tap. Do not begin brewing until the cork is sealed and has stopped leaking. *In rare occasions it can take longer for the tap to seal.
- Try to avoid positioning the crock next to a heat source or direct sunlight which may dry out the cork bung as this may cause the tap to leak.
- First, it is imperative that you NEVER use any metals around Kombucha. So, before you do anything with your Kombucha, remove all your rings from your fingers and any necklaces etc that might touch it while you go about preparation. We use plastic spatulas to stir the tea it will eventually sit in. Also be careful if you have metal sinks and are working over one as the Kombucha is very slippery! A plastic bowl is highly recommended.
- Second, if you are diabetic you must NOT drink Kombucha, without consulting your doctor first, and if you are on any heavy medication, it might be best to check out whether Kombucha is suitable to mix.
- Third, as Kombucha works by balancing your body’s ph levels as well as other things, and generally acts as a high performance tonic to your system, you need to give your body the opportunity to adjust to the changes. So, for the first week drink a small glass, once a day, preferably before breakfast. The following week increase this to a glass before every meal, then, from the third week onwards drink as much as you wish.
- In regards to the Kombucha cultures themselves, they require a balanced temperature, not too hot, not too cold, so do not expose them to extremes.
- Finally, when not brewing, always keep your Kombucha sitting in a good amount of sweet tea or its own juices. This is imperative.
- Don’t worry, it might seem a bit complex now, but you will pick it up very quickly and once you have done, it will seem very simple and will be exceptionally rewarding.
- Please ensure that your kombucha does not come into contact with metal (remove any jewellery) although using a metal kettle or pan to make your initial tea is fine.
- If you are not starting your brew immediately then store your scoby somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight (NOT in the fridge). If you have received your scoby in the winter and it is quite cold outside it is best to leave your scoby for 48 hours at room temperature to allow your scoby to warm up before starting to brew.
- Please ensure that all your equipment in clean and well rinsed before using. Generally speaking equipment does not need to be sterilised simply washed thoroughly. Please ensure that you well rinse any equipment and leave it to cool before use. We do not recommend using boiling water with any glass piece of equipment.
- Kombucha brews best at a constant room temperature of approx 20-23C (70F) an airing Cupboard or similar is ideal or a warm room. In the winter or if your rooms are cold then you might find a heater tray helpful (if you are using a heat tray then you will find that your kombucha will brew much faster and we would recommend halving the brewing time instructions in these instructions)
- As your scobies grow you will be able to gradually increase the volume of your brew by adding more sweetened tea whenever you draw from your barrel.
Please note these instructions are intended for two large scobies.
- A brewing container with a tap. Ideally it should hold at least 5 litres so that you have plenty of “head room” for your scobies.
- ·A large pan or jug that can hold at least 4 litres of liquid (or several smaller containers). This will be used to make the sweetened tea so it needs to be able to hold boiling water.
- 12 Tea bags – we use organic tea, and it is imperative that all brewing is done using a base of ‘real’ tea, be it green, black, white etc.
- 320-400g Sugar – granulated.
Okay, boil 4 litres of water. Put 12 tea bags into your container, and then add between 320 and 400 grams of sugar to the container. We usually go for nearer 340 grams, but this is preference. (If you are using several smaller containers divide these quantities between the containers). Do not use less than 320g of sugar as this can cause problems with your brew.
With tea bags and sugar in your container, when your kettle boils, pour the boiling water into the container in which you have placed your tea bags and sugar (but NOT you’re Kombucha!! You will add this later). Stir your boiling hot container full of tea and sugar, then wait half an hour before removing your tea bags, and then leave to cool.
Wait until the container’s liquid is cool to touch, by that we mean, if you stick your little finger in, it feels no more than barely warm, and closer to cold.
While you are waiting for the sweet tea to cool wash out your continuous brewing vessel thoroughly and rinse.
** If you are using a plastic vessel then you can use this vessel to make your initial batch of tea in however we do not recommend pouring boiling water in anything made of glass. Please ensure that you are careful if you then need to move your vessel as it will be hot and heavy.
It is best to do the following with your brewing vessel in situ as it will be heavy and hard to lift once you have added the cold sweet tea. Wherever you decide to keep your container make sure that the room has a relatively constant temperature and that the container is out of direct sunlight.
Pour the now cold sweet tea into the continuous brewing vessel (make sure that you have remembered to close the tap!)
Place both your Kombucha Scobies in the top of your container, the lightest side upwards (don’t worry too much if this is hard to gauge) and add in the liquid that came in the bag with the scobies. The Kombucha scoby will either float, sink or something in between, all good. With your Kombucha floating in the tea, put a piece of cotton or muslin over the container top, like you do with home-made jam and then secure it with elastic or something else that will keep it tight. You can then put the lid on the crock, although the crock can be used with or without the lid we strongly advise always using a brewing cloth even when using the lid as the cloth will help to keep fruit flies etc. out of your brew.
Leave your Kombucha to brew for at least 10-18 days, because of the volume it will take a little longer than with the batch method. The exact brew time will vary depending on temperature.
Now, judging the readiness of your Kombucha drink is not a scientific process. You will come to ‘know’ when it is brewed, but don’t worry, before you have gained this knowledge for yourself, we offer this advice. Your Kombucha will take at least 10-18 days to brew (if you are brewing using a heat pad then check your Kombucha after 5-7 days as your kombucha will brew much faster). Take a look at the colour of the tea when you first put your Kombucha into it, then note how the liquid becomes cloudier over the passing days. Our recommendation is that, after 14 days you pour a very small amount into a glass and have a sip. If the brew tastes fruity and a little sour and not tea like, it’s ready, if not, leave it another day or two and try again.The longer you leave it the less sweet more sour it will become. Kombucha can take anywhere from 5-18 days to brew. As you get more experienced you will come to learn the brew duration that best suits your taste buds and palette. Kombucha should taste fruity/sour/tarte. Its flavour is a little similar to apple cider vinegar and it should smell vinegar like and a bit yeasty.
When you feel your brew is ready, pour your brew into the container you plan to keep your readymade drink in, we generally recommend that you draw off about 1 litre at a time. Put your drink into the fridge; leave it for a few hours and then drink! The longer you leave it in the fridge, the fizzier it will get, and it can be left without going off so drink at whatever pace suits.
The basic rule with continuous brewing is that you put the same amount of sweetened tea (once cooled) back into the continuous brew that you draw out. So if you drew out 1 litre put 1 litre back in.
Once you have topped up your continuous brew leave it for at least 24 hours before drawing off any more of your delicious Kombucha tea but in the early stages it can take 3-5 days before you brew is ready again. This time will decrease once your brew is established and will depend on temperature.
Continue topping up like this every time you draw off. As your Scobies grow you will gradually be able to increase the amount you brew. To do this add a little more Sweet tea to the Brewing vessel than you drew off, for example if you drew of 1 litre put 1.5 litres back in and then leave your brew for at least 3-5 days before drawing anymore off.
If you have purchased a Medium 10L or large 25 Litre Brewing Vessel please increase the Volume of your brew slowly. Please do not be tempted to put too much tea in at once in the early days as if you try to brew too much Kombucha with not enough scoby you can end up with mould in your brew.
Cleaning your vessel
Your continuous brewing vessel will need to be cleaned every 12- 18 months. To do this empty it completely (keeping your scobies in either sweet tea or Kombucha) and clean your vessel thoroughly. It is best to remove the tap and check the rubber seal (this can become eroded with the high acidity of the Kombucha) and give the tap a good clean to. You will find that as your scobies grow you will need to remove some Scoby from time to time otherwise your container will end up full of Scoby with no room for any liquid and it may become too acidic too quickly.To remove some scoby we generally recommend using a plastic knife to cut your scoby into 4 pieces. Remove one piece initially and see if this is enough, if you find that the kombucha is still getting too acidic to quickly you can remove another piece of scoby. Please be careful when removing scoby that you leave enough scoby to brew with, its always best to be cautious as removing too much scoby may hamper your brews ability to brew kombucha. You will have to do this more often in the summer or if you are using a heat pad.
- Clean your crock with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly (again you really cannot rinse too much), your crock can be put in the dishwasher (although you must remove the tap and cork before doing this)
- Clean the spigot by flowing clean warm water through.
- Dry completely and store uncovered when not in use
- DO NOT PUT THE SPIGOT OR CORK BUNG IN THE DISHWASHER, HANDWASH ONLY.
Please remember that if the cork bung dries out it will need to be conditioned again before use. If you need replacement bungs or taps these are available on our website.
When your vessel is clean either put everything back in and return to normal or start again as per instructions above.
The Cloth that covers your vessel should be washed and changed regularly in order to avoid your brewing being contaminated.
Kombucha Care & Advice
If you are new to kombucha and are drinking it for the first time you need to introduce it into your system slowly.
To start with drink ½ a small glass per day (approx ¼ pint) for the first week.
Then drink a small glass per day (approx ½ pint) for the next week.
After this you can drink as much as you like.
Kombucha tastes best fresh from the fridge!
As Happy Kombucha is Raw and unpasteurised it is normal for ‘bits’ to develop in the drink. These are not harmful although they can be removed with a filter (non-metal) if you prefer.
Please consult your doctor before drinking Kombucha if you are diabetic or taking medication.
Please note: Kombucha is a naturally sparkling drink. We therefore advise that when storing Kombucha in airtight sealed bottles it is best to release the fizz from the bottles on a regular basis (daily if possible) to avoid a build up of fizz in your Kombucha, or store your kombucha is a non airtight container so that some of the fizz can naturally escape.
* burping bottles
Kombucha can be kept either refrigerated or at room temperature for up to 2 years (consume within 10 days of opening), although watch out for the build up of naturally occurring carbonation if kept at room temperature! The naturally acidic pH of ripe Kombucha means conditions are favourable for the growth of the kombucha culture, and inhibit the growth of moulds and bacteria. In fact, as long as your Kombucha has been kept in an appropriate container (glass is best) it will just continue to mature and will eventually become Kombucha vinegar which has a multitude of uses of its own: use it in salad dressings, as a hair tonic / rinse to de-toxify and get rid of product build-up, as a non toxic cleaner or as a marinade.
BEWARE EXPLODING KOMBUCHA!!!
IN WARM WEATHER PLEASE ALLOW YOUR KOMBUCHA TO CHILL BEFORE OPENING. Open with extreme care if you do not refrigerate.
As the weather gets warmer, the kombucha will naturally get more carbonated. At Happy kombucha we have experienced this ourselves and bottles have been known to empty their entire contents over the ceiling (yes really!) if the following steps aren't taken into account:
There are a few things you can do to minimize loss or wastage when you open them! Keeping them somewhere cool will help (i.e. not next to the oven / radiator). Even if they are kept at room temperature they will be fine, but it is a good idea to "burp" the bottles. This just means holding the stopper down but releasing the lever slowly until you hear the "pssst" of some of the air escaping. Then secure the lever quickly to retain the liquid. You will start to be able to tell by the ferociousness of the "psst" whether it's a lively bottle or not! If it is, then you may want to do this a few times until it calms down enough to open it - don't worry, it will still be fizzy when it's poured out). Lastly, when you are ready to drink it, making sure it's very cold (has been in the fridge overnight or for a least a few hours) will also minimize the overflow. And of course.... open with care :)
It is normal for "fuzz" or "bits" to form during the brew, these are yeast chains and are not harmfull, they can sometime attach themselves to your baby scoby or your mother. We generally advise filtering the brew into your storage container but this is optional. You can use a filtering funnel/ Plastic sieve/muslin or coffee filter papers for this and its normal for a small sediment to form at the bottom of the jar. The Fuzz/bits can occassionally block up the taps on continuous kits, generally blowing through the tap will remove this. Opening the tap regularly can help stop this.
We have tried to make these instructions as concise as possible however it is never possible with any live culture to say A+B=C as each culture is slightly different and there are many variable like temperature and atmospheric pressure that just cannot be easily controlled and also there is a degree of personal preference involved. Not everybody likes their kombucha to taste the same and therefore whilst we have done our best we do try to cater to all needs. If you are unsure about any part of the brewing process drop us a line or give us a call and one of our Kombucha Guru's will happily help you along.
Information provided in this communication is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. This is general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, or in general conversation with our staff is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. Happy Kombucha is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through Happy Kombucha.