Best Containers for Making Tea
To make Kombucha, you first need to make tea. While this process is simple and we focus more on the actual Kombucha making process than the initial tea-making process, it’s important to choose the best container possible for your tea-brewing process.
The container you use to make your tea needs to be safe for long-term storage of hot liquid, because you need to let the tea cool down before you add the SCOBY and starter. (For a reminder about basic brewing practices, read our how to make kombucha for the beginner.
You might be able to use the same container for boiling your water and steeping the tea leaves, depending on what material it’s made of, and how big it is, but it’s unlikley. Most brewers boil their water and brew their tea in DIFFERENT containers that they make their kombucha in.
If you’re using one container to make your sweet tea then you’ll need a large stove-safe pot that holds at least a gallon and a half of liquid (many home brewers make their kombucha a gallon at a time). Of course, if you normally brew smaller amounts, you can adjust the size of the pot as needed. You can also use larger pots for larger batches, but be sure that you can safely lift and carry them when they’re full.
For making basic tea, ANYTHING THAT TAKES HEAT AND IS FOOD-SAFE WORKS — as long as you can boil the hot water in it. There is nothing you need that should be fancy — your basic steel, aluminum, or iron pot or kettle will work just fine. However, we can provide you with some specialized recommendations if you want to brew a LOT of tea at once your you want to really get fancy when you make your tea (yes, there are specialized tea kettles that tea enthusiasts will tell you make a difference in the tea taste due to holding the water at the ideal temperature and no-leeching of minerals/flavors from the tea container during the steeping/heating process).
At the end of the day, do remember, that the type of tea container you have will make VERY little difference to the end product of KOMBUCHA. The type of tea, the type of water, the type of sugar, the length of fermentation time, the ingredients you add during the second ferment, the room temperature will all make FAR more of a difference than your tea container used to make your tea then sweat tea with!
Best Containers for Making Tea?
We recommend either GLASS or Stainless Steel for your water-boiling, tea making efforts. Both of these materials are safe, non-reactive, and won’t leech any chemicals into the tea. There are a number of other materials such as copper, iron, stoneware, and plastic, but we don’t recommend these specifically.
Some Do’s and Don’ts for Containers and Tea Making
- DO: Use a stainless steel pot for boiling the water and steeping the tea. Stainless steel is non-reactive, and the tannins in the tea will not leach out any unwanted metals or toxins into the water.
- DO: Use a glass pot, if you’re making smaller quantities of tea.
- DON’T: Use a teflon-coated pot. These develop scratches, and the metal underneath may react with the tannins in the tea.
- DON’T: Use anything made of cast iron or aluminum. Both of these will leach metallic compounds into the water that will affect the flavor of your kombucha, create possible health hazards, and harm your SCOBY.
- DON’T: Use ceramic-coated pots. Like teflon, this coating is covering potentially reactive metal, and if it is nicked or scratched, you’ll be risking contamination of the water and the tea.
If you’re boiling water in one container and brewing in another then you can usually use whatever pot or teakettle you normally use for heating water to do that step. However, it’s best to avoid using aluminum pots in all steps of the process.
Tea purists will have you first boil the water in a kettle or pot then transfer the hot water to a teapot where you steep the leaves to make the tea. This may affect the quality of the tea, but remember making the tea is only the FIRST step, adding sugar then fermenting it with a SCOBY is the second step. So we feel whatever minor difference steeping your tea in a separate teapot via a tea infuser in the quality of the tea is not that important as the flavor profile will change significantly when the kombucha starts brewing. We are drinking kombucha, after all, not just tea. Still, if you are a tea purist and insist on the highest quality TEA, then follow whatever tea-steeping protocol you feel ensures the best quality tea. Just keep in mind it likely won’t make that much (if any) difference on the final Kombucha product.
Same Container for Boiling Water and Steeping Tea Leaves
When choosing the container where you’re going to combine the boiling water and the tea leaves, follow the DON’T recommendations above (no teflon coatings, no cast iron, no aluminum, no ceramic coating). In addition, follow these guidelines:
- DO: Use a heat-safe glass container. Pyrex is ideal for this purpose. Be sure that your container is molded in one piece and not made out of two or more pieces of glass that have been glued together (the heat will loosen the glue, and your container will fall apart).
- DON’T: Use a container made of colored glass or crystal. That heavy crystal punchbowl you inherited from your grandmother and never use might be the perfect size for a gallon batch of brew, but there may be lead and other toxic materials that will be pulled out of the glass by the tannic tea.
- DO: Use stainless steel for this step of the process. This is a good time to choose a pot that is larger than you need so that the liquid will cool down more quickly, letting you get to the next step (adding the SCOBY and starter) that much sooner. Good stainless steel pots in a range of sizes are easy to find at restaurant supply companies.
- DON’T: Use plastic containers. Although you can use food-safe plastic in the next step of the process (primary fermentation brewing) it’s not a good idea to use it here, as the boiling water will warp the container over time, and may also cause chemicals in the plastic to leach into the water.
What Container Do I Use to Brew Kombucha In?
Once you’ve made your tea and added sugar to it, you then need to ferment your sweet tea with the help of a SCOBY. For more on the process of making kombucha, check out our how to make kombucha article.
You probably won’t want to use the SAME container you boiled your water and brewed your tea in to brew your kombucha. So if you want to know what container is best for brewing kombucha, check out our Best Kombucha Brewing Container Guide.