As I foray into the world of Kombucha, I found myself in need of a quick go-to Kombucha brewing equipment list. I wanted to start small, and slowly work my way up into being able to improve my brewing and quality. There is a lot of cool and fairly inexpensive equipment to help with this. Of course, I didn’t want to buy it all at once and be overwhelmed with learning new things. I started by getting everything in my Basic list, then am slowly moving on to some of the more advanced specialty equipment based on my needs and how its turning out. I’ve spent many hours researching each individual component required for Kombucha – you get to reap the rewards by quickly getting to the best of each component.
This guide assumes you already have basic knowledge of Kombucha terminology – I won’t be explaining all the terms here.
Basic Kombucha Brewing Equipment
This is the bare minimum you need to start brewing right away. A conservative price to purchase the basic brewing equipment would be about $100. Once the initial equipment is purchased, ingredients will run you around $3 per gallon. As a Kombucha fan, you will recoup your initial cost VERY quickly.
Mason Jars – Depending on how much you want to brew, you may either want a gallon jar or several gallon jar. The bigger the jar, the faster the fermentation process occurs. Choose glass made for fermentation and plastic lids. Metal lids will add acidity and start to rust from the pH level of your Kombucha. I’ve found this set of four 1-gallon jars to be the best deal. There are a couple other fermented beverages which shy away from metal lids and containers as well.
Glass Bottles – Once your Kombucha has finished fermenting in the mason jars, you’ll want a set of nice bottles that can withstand pressure while you begin work on your next batch. The set I use comes with a bottle brush to clean and a funnel. This type of bottle also has an easy capping system, which will save you from having to get additional equipment. These are called flip tops or Grolsch-types, if you’re looking for other sources to purchase.
Cheesecloth – Unbleached fine is the way to go. Generally $5 at a grocery store and bleached, I found this unbleached option which contains twice as much as what I could find locally. As a bonus, you can also use this for all of your other foodie needs. A lot of guides will say not to use cheesecloth, but if you purchase the fine grade, it will keep out fruit flies. I’m actually using a larger grade currently and haven’t experienced any problems yet.
Twine – This is great for keeping the cheesecloth fit snugly onto the mason jars. Simply resting the covering on the jars can allow bugs to get in. I like to keep my kitchen neat and clean, so having a spool and blade all in one ended up being the perfect option. A bit more expensive than just a regular spool, but totally worth it. Handy for my meats, too.
Organic Cane Sugar – The unbleached organic cane sugar is the absolute best choice of all sugars. This particular sugar has been the cheapest per pound I’ve found and usually has a 20% off coupon. White cane sugar is okay in a pinch. Some brewers have experimented with honey and alternative sugars such as Agave, Coconut, etc – try at your own risk, but don’t be upset if you kill the Scoby. Sugar substitutes contain no nutrients for your Scoby.
Tea – Tea is one of the more complicated Kombucha ingredients. This is where a lot of flavor comes in, but there are also some nuances to pay attention to when choosing tea. First, either caffeinated or non-caffeinated is your preference and has no effect on the Scoby. With all types of tea, go for Organic varieties and make sure there is no oil or flavors added.
Black tea is a great first choice – as long as it is Ceylon, English Breakfast, or Darjeeling. Ear Grey or teas with oils and flavoring should be avoided. Black tea leafs provides all nutrients the Scoby needs, and usually produces a bold fruity taste.
Green tea should be used in combination with a little bit of black tea and will lighten the intensity of flavors.
Oolong tea is another good type if you are making Kombucha often. This will bring a fruity and grassy flavoring do your brew.
Red (Rooibos) tea should be used with at least 25% of the other tea being black tea, which will provide a nutty or earthy flavor. This is another tea not to use for the first 4 batches.
Yerba Mate and herbal tea have varied flavors and can be experimented with, as long as you are using at least 25% of black tea for nutrients. Don’t use these tea bags for the first 4 batches.
White tea can be used in combination with black, green, or oolong teas. It is not recommended to use white tea for your first 4 batches with a Scoby, as there are not enough nutrients to sustain it. The white leaves will bring about a flowery flavor.
Water – If you’re not using distilled water, you’re going to either want treat your water to remove chlorine and fluoride. Boil, charcoal filtration, faucet or whole house filtration, or reverse osmosis are all good options. Using tap or well water directly can bring in contaminants including trace amounts of chlorine which will kill your Scoby.
Thermometer – Generally, you’re going to want to avoid sticking things into your brew, and using a laser thermometer will achieve this. The purpose of the thermometer is to measure the water temperature during the brewing process which can help you achieve a better quality batch. I was skeptical of this until I tried it for different teas and the flavors turned out much more vibrant. Plus, you can totally use it to read the temperature of random things for lots of fun – like your significant other’s butt. Queue the bad jokes.
The Little Things
Chances are good you have the rest of these items sitting around in your kitchen:
- Mesh strainer and fine mesh strainer
- Measuring cups
- Slotted spoon
- Timer [or phone]
- Plastic funnel
- 8-quart stainless steel pot with lid
- Stock pot