Kombucha Kit: The Homebrewer's Guide – Grow Your Pantry

Kombucha Kit: The Homebrewer's Guide

by Susan Grey on November 08, 2019
kombucha_kit_infographic
The popularity of kombucha has skyrocketed therefore becoming more common for home brewers to create and perfect their batch of kombucha. Previously, the process of how to make kombucha was limited to the few that had books or old recipes. Now with the advent of the internet, kombucha forums, and Youtube tutorials, many are brewing the elixir at home. With the popularisation of kombucha, there has also been an increase in complete kombucha brewing kits sold. 
We'll delve into what the best type of kombucha brewing kit is, where to buy one, self-assembling a kit, and answer the question of if one is necessary at all.
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What Is A Kombucha Kit?

Typically a kombucha brewing kit contains all of the equipment and ingredients required to brew your first batch of kombucha. They're a one-stop-shop to your first brew, simplifying the brewing process by assembling all that is needed.
A Kombucha Kit Will Contain Both Equipment And Ingredients:
There can be a lot of variation between kits, including different volumes of vessels, flavors, and brand-specific equipment. A few bullet points cover the essential equipment and ingredients to homebrew kombucha.
Equipment:
  • Brewing Vessel - A 1-gallon glass jar, either with a standard size or wide mouth. Brewing vessels will house all of the ingredients, and the tea is left to ferment inside.
  • Cloth Covering - Typically, a muslin cloth that can be folded to keep flies out while letting air through. Other alternatives are thicker cloth, nets, tea towels, or old t-shirts.
  • Cloth Covering Fastening - Elastic band, string, or velcro fastening strap. Used to ensure the fabric is a tight fit without movement during the brew. 
  • PH Strips - Usually coming in the form of litmus paper where you compare the color to determine the PH of the brew. Before and during the brew it’s essential to test PH levels to ensure it's within the critical range.
  • Thermometer / Temperature Strips -Typically, a stick-on strip that attaches to the side of your brewing vessel and indicates if the brew is at optimal temperature by changing color. Another variety of thermometer could be made of glass, which is inserted into the mixture.
  • Guide Book - Most kits come with a guide book or sheet that explains the brewing process, giving you instructions, methods, and a place to record your batch details.
Ingredients:
  • Sugar - Sugar feeds the SCOBY causing the fermentation, growth, and sweet taste. Although you can use any sugar that breaks down to glucose, the most common type is cane sugar. Alternatives include molasses, honey, and palm sugar.
  • Tea - Green or black tea is the most common tea to be used for brewing kombucha. Many different blends and mixes are delicious, however producing your own blend could be tricky. Purchasing a blend from a kombucha specialist is advised.
  • SCOBY - Typical SCOBYs are 5.5" wide and 1" thick. This would be large enough to brew a 1-gallon batch.

Why Buy A Kombucha Kit?

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Most that buy a kombucha kit will have drank kombucha many times and now wants to learn how to make kombucha themselves. Alternatively, they make a great birthday or Christmas gift.
  • Save Money - Individual bottles of kombucha could cost a few dollars per piece. The raw ingredients, however, are very cheap. Buy buying a kombucha kit; you can create as much kombucha for just a fraction of the price.
  • Alter The Ingredients - Many people love the taste of kombucha but seldom have it due to the sugar or caffeine content. By brewing it yourself, you can influence the taste and contents, allowing you to create the perfect brew for you.
  • Learn The Process - If you have a curious mind that enjoys learning about the food and drink we consume, then this would be a fun project.
  • Child's Science Gift - Often, we are disconnected from what we eat and drink. Water from the tap, or soft drinks from a bottle. This gives children a rare insight into not only the understanding of where the drink comes from but also the science behind fermentation — watching SCOBYs grow and the tea ferment.

8 Considerations Before Buying

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There are a few considerations that you should make before buying your first kombucha brewing kit. Outlined are five specific things to look for when purchasing a kombucha brewing kit.
1.  Volume - Typically, kombucha starter kits come with a 1-gallon glass jar. If you're looking for a few extra bottles throughout the month, then this could be the ideal size. Whereas if you drink kombucha daily and would like to brew enough, a larger vessel is needed. Alternatively, you could look for a continuous brewing vessel.
2.  Ingredients - Some kits may be sold with one or two ingredients and not all of them. If this happens, it can be frustrating to have then to source more ingredients. Look for a kit that contains tea, sugar, and a SCOBY.
3.  Reviews - If you're buying from an online marketplace such as Amazon or eBay, you'll be able to see reviews from people that have previously purchased the product. By reading these, you can get a better idea of usability, quality, and satisfaction with this product. Look for a kit with many positive reviews.
4.  SCOBY Dehydrated vs. Live - The main two variations of SCOBY are dehydrated and live. A dehydrated SCOBY has been dried out, therefore will need to be soaked in vinegar for a long time to reactive it. This can be a frustrating process as frequently, it will not work. Live SCOBYs will come in a watertight bag that will contain kombucha or kombucha vinegar. Typically a live SCOBY will have a higher success rate when brewing and produce better batches.
5.  Type Of SCOBY - The most common SCOBY will have been brewed using black or green tea and fed on cane sugar. However, other variations also exist, such as Jun SCOBY, which has fed on honey. Therefore if you're looking to brew a standard batch, look for a standard SCOBY. 
6.  Size Of SCOBY - Another consideration would be the size of SCOBY. The larger the SCOBY, the larger the batch it can brew. Check the product's notes to see if it specifies the quantity it can brew, standard amounts would be ¼ gallon, 1 gallon, and 2.5 gallons.
7.  Organic, USDA Etc - If you're looking to brew your kombucha for health benefits, then it would be a good idea to review the quality of ingredients. The ingredients include Tea, Sugar, and a SCOBY. All of which can be found with USDA and Organic certifications. Ensuring the quality of the ingredients will ensure the quality of your final beverage.
8.  Brand - Although one brand does not dominate the home brewing kombucha market, it would be advisable to find a reputable company. Look into whether or not they produce educational material, such as videos, books, or articles. Also, another method would be to look into online reviews and reputation.

Kombucha Starter Kit vs. Making Your Starter Kit

Kombucha starter kits will typically range in price between $20-$50. The variation will depend on the brand, what's included, and the quality of ingredients. To buy all of the equipment and ingredients separately will undoubtedly be cheaper. You could source the products online or by visiting your local stores.
Most people purchasing the kit will value the convenience of an all-in-one solution, or they'll be giving the gift as a present. Often they'll have excellent packaging and include a guide too, which is a nice touch to those that receive it. After using their kit a few times, it's common for people to buy a few new pieces of equipment to create their personalized kit. Optional extras could include a heat wrap, digital thermometer, or multiple brewing jars.

How To Make Your Own Kombucha Kit

Required equipment, where to buy from and expected price.
 Equipment
Sourced From
Price Guide
Brewing Vessel
Grocery Store, Amazon, eBay
$5 - $20
Covering Cloth
Grocery Store, Amazon, eBay, Home Retailer
$0.25 - $5
Thermometer
Grocery Store, Amazon, eBay
$3 - $20
PH Tester
Grocery Store, Amazon, eBay
$1 - $25
How To Guide
Amazon
$5 - $15
SCOBY
Facebook Groups, Amazon
$2.5 - $20
Sugar
Grocery Store, Amazon
$0.5 - $5
Tea
Grocery Store, Amazon, Tea Blender
$2.5 - $15
1.  Brewing Vessel - Once you've decided on your ideal size of the vessel, take a look in your local grocery store, order online from retailers, or marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay. Be sure to know that the jar has been rated food safe and suitable for an acidic liquid to be exposed to it.
2.  Cover Cloth - To ensure no flies enter the brew often, you use a cheesecloth, muslin cloth, or tea towel secured with a rubber band or velcro strap. These items can easily be found at home, grocery stores, or online.
3.  Thermometer - Often, you'll have a stick-on thermometer. Ensuring for a clear idea of the brew's temperature without prodding with a long glass thermometer. The best place to find a stick-on thermometer would be Amazon, where you'll be able to pick one up for under $5.
4.  PH Tester - The cheapest variety of PH testing are paper litmus test strips whereby you compare the colors. A more advanced version is an electronic reader. Either will work for brewing kombucha. Commonly they can be found in a hardware store online too.
5.  How To Guide - Like most modern learning, you can head over to Youtube or Google to search recipes or methods for brewing. You could even print them out if this is a gift.
6.  SCOBY - The best SCOBYs are USDA certified Organic. They will have grown in batches that ensure their quality, and you can find SCOBYs commonly on Amazon. Another alternative is to go on nationwide kombucha brewing Facebook groups. If you post that you're looking for a SCOBY, often somebody is willing to send you a SCOBY for free. Just cover the postage!
7.  Sugar - Typically, the first batch that you brew would be using cane sugar. Cane sugar is found in almost all grocery stores and health retailers. Alternatively, you can order online too. There are a few variations, such as country of origin and any relevant organic certifications.
8.  Tea - A variety of black tea is most frequently used. However, there are many varieties, including green tea and mixed blends. You could pick them up from a grocery store, order from a tea blender, or specialist kombucha retailer. All of which should cost less than $10. Expect enough tea for multiple brews.

 

Other Equipment For Home Brewing

Storage Bottles
If you're looking for additional purchases to make to ensure the complete kombucha kit, then kombucha storage bottles are recommended. [[[We have a full breakdown of all kombucha storage bottles that goes into more in-depth detail.]]]
After you have brewed your batch of kombucha, then comes the time to store your brew, most typical storage methods are hinged lids that form a seal with the glass bottle, which can be easily stored in the refrigerator and taken out to be sipped on throughout the day.
A Few Considerations Before Buying
  • Material - The most used material is glass. As the acidic nature of the brew can interact with the kombucha causing it to become spoiled and even possibly toxic; therefore, it's necessary to get food grade glass. Hardened plastic could also be used, although in general, plastic is not advised to use because of potential toxic leaching.
  • Size - If you're looking for a bottle to fit in your refrigerator and also be transported around during the day, consider the 8oz or 16oz bottle variation (240ml to 480ml). If you're going to consume within the home, 32oz (1lt) bottle would be recommended.
  • Ease Of Use - Look for a lid that will secure the brew and can be resealed, so you don't have to consume the brew all at once, and don't buy a bottle too large that it's inconvenient to pour or carry around.
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