Non-Essential Kombucha Brewing Equipment
Making your own home-brewed kombucha is fun, and it’s easy to to make kombucha on a budget with a minimum of basic equipment. However, there are a few pieces of equipment that will make the process even more fun, because they give you ways to experiment with new techniques.
The kombucha SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) is a forgiving creature – or group of creatures, rather – and is generally fairly happy with a generous amount of sugary black tea, whether you’ve measured that sugar exactly or not. However, when you get the kombucha brewing basics under your belt and you’re ready to start experimenting with new kombucha recipes, you’ll find it useful to have a way to accurately measure ingredients. It’s even more important when you start creating your own flavor combinations, because in some instances there might be only a small amount of difference between “not enough flavor” and “too much flavor,” especially when it comes to strongly aromatic ingredients like cinnamon, or very active elements like ginger.
Using a scale rather than a set of measuring spoons or cups gives you more control over the final result. For example, you might think that two tablespoons of tea is two tablespoons of tea, but there’s a big difference between a dry fluffy tea like green jasmine and a dense fermented tea like one of the pu-erh varieties. When you’re testing out different types of tea for making kombucha, you’ll want to keep an accurate record of what kind of tea you used, how much tea you used, how that particular tea affected the kombucha brewing time , and what you thought of the taste of the finished kombucha tea.
A good-quality digital scale will last a long time if you take care of it. Look for one that measures in one-gram increments, and make sure that you have a safe place to store the scale when you’re not using it.
Recommended Digital Scale
This is the #1 selling kitchen digital scale on Amazon. Perfect for getting the exact weight for small ingredients weights like TEA, sugar measurements or the second ferment flavorings. More accuracy on the exact amount of materials you use, the more precise control you have over the flavor.
Extra-Large French Press and Electric Tea Kettle
A time-saving method for making your sweet tea is to use concentrated tea, which you can make ahead and mix with boiling water when you’re ready to start your next batch of kombucha. This is also a good way to make your tea if you don’t have the room or equipment for a large pot, or you don’t want to spend the time and energy (yours and the electrical system’s) in heating up a large amount of water. Anyone living in a studio apartment with just a hotplate and a few electrical outlets in the kitchen area will find this method ideal for easy kombucha brewing. With a French press, an electric tea kettle, and a few other kombucha essentials, you can make a generous quantity of kombucha even if you only have a little space.
To make a concentrated tea brew, use 50% more loose tea leaves than the recipe calls for. In other words, instead of using 8 tablespoons of tea leaves for a half-gallon batch, use 12 tablespoons instead. Bring your water to a boil, and pour the boiling water over the leaves in the press. Close the press with the lid, leaving it in the “up” position so that the leaves can circulate freely in the water. Wrap a thick towel around the press, put it on a heating pad, or both. Let the tea leaves steep for 30 minutes before pressing the lid down. Store this concentrated tea in a closed jar in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it, and then mix half-and-half with fresh boiling water before adding the sugar.
You can use a smaller French press, but the larger ones are more convenient. The mesh and the press are easy to clean. Be sure you only use this press for your kombucha! If you also use a French press for your coffee in the morning, keep the two separate, or your kombucha will taste like coffee.
French Press Recommendations
This Bodum French press is about $38 and will work just fine for making concentrated TEA. I like the French Press method for making strong tea then refrigerating it for later use. It’s a good way to always have your sweet tea ready for another batch of Kombucha. This French Press is quality and you can use it just as easily for coffee brewing too. I have this model myself and I use it all the time.
Stainless Steel or Cloth Tea Mesh
If you are making your black or green tea in a larger pot, and you’re using loose tea leaves, you might want to invest in a supersized mesh “tea ball” so that you don’t have to spend the time fishing out all of the tea leaves from the liquid before you add the SCOBY. Make sure you get one made out of high-grade plastic or stainless steel. Avoid bamboo tea balls, which can develop harmful molds and bacteria.
You could also use a piece of muslin cloth and wrap up the tea leaves, as long as the cloth has no loose threads around the edges. Some tea shops and cooking supply stores sell pre-stitched muslin bags designed to hold herbs and spices, and these work well, although the smaller ones may be harder to clean and reuse.
Another option is to buy a mesh bag that’s used for straining cheese curds or for making nut milk. These are easy to find in do-it-yourself shops and homesteading supply outlets, and you can also buy them on line. Because these bags are larger, they’re easier to clean.
I recommend this simple and easy set of 3 plastic mesh strainers from Amazonthat’s just under $10 USD. In addition to the various uses for Kombucha making, you can ALSO use these if you want to make kefir to strain the kefir grains.
Funnel + Strainer
Personally, I recommend you get the OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Funnel and Strainer Set listed below which is basically a strainer AND a funnel in one. Saves you some time and perfect for Kombucha brewing. This is good for straining second ferment kombucha into the final bottles / container or just removing the yeasty bits from first ferments. You can use it to remove any tea leaves left in the water when making sweet tea too.
This is the best way to make sweat tea. Put in the loose leaf tea or tea leaves into the steel ball, clamp it up, then hang it on the side of the steel pot or kettle and let the tea steep. Remove it after 5 or so minutes. You now have finished tea without having to strain the tea leaves. I have this and it saves a LOT of time.
I personally recommend this oversized FORLIFE Capsule Infuser (see image beside) which has a very small mesh and is large.
Electronic pH Meter
As your kombucha ferments, the pH changes as the sweet tea is transformed into a tart and tangy brew. How sweet or tangy it is when you bottle it depends on when you stop the fermentation process by removing the SCOBY, and that will depend on how you like to drink your kombucha, and whether you’re going to do a second fermentation of the kombucha tea. Using pH test strips or a pH meter is a good way to double check that what you’re tasting is the acidity produced by a successful fermentation, or a sour flavor from a new ingredient or a problem with the brew.
Using a pH meter is the most reliable way to test your kombucha. You’ll be able to write down the exact pH level of the brew when you stopped the fermentation, so that you can duplicate the process and get the same delicious brew time after time. Using a pH meter is also a good way to make sure that you’re not bottling your kombucha at a level that is too sweet to prevent bad bacteria in the kombucha, or waiting too long and only getting kombucha vinegar in the end. (There are ways to use kombucha vinegar too, though!)
This is easy, fairly cheap at 20 bucks, and works great for brewing Kombuch. Buy it on Amazon.
Want more recommendations? Click through to find out more about specialized kombucha brewing equipment.