While kombucha has been around for centuries, the drink has been widely popularized in the 1990s. Since then, the industry has only grown and consumers’ passion for the drink has led to many choosing to homebrew.
Kombucha kits are a set of equipment and ingredients sold together that make home brewing and production of kombucha simple for the average consumer. Homebrewing has become very popular, thus saturating the market with all sorts of kits for purchase.
In this article, we will cover the basics of what is needed and what should be included in a kit to brew kombucha. We will also discuss the benefits of using a pre-made kombucha kit versus choosing the DIY route.
What to Expect from a Kombucha Kit
Despite there being a wide variety of kits to choose from, most kits contain similar contents. This is because the production of kombucha only requires a few simple ingredients in order to be made. The base ingredient for the drink is green or black tea.
The tea is combined with sugar, bacteria, and yeast. This combination of ingredients is then left to ferment for around a week’s worth of time. The bacteria and yeast form what is known as a SCOBY, which stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.”
According to an article published on Kitchn:
“A SCOBY is a naturally occurring part of the kombucha brewing process. It’s constantly renewing itself and a new layer of SCOBY will grow on the surface of the old one every time you brew a batch of kombucha.”
For a brand new batch of kombucha, a new brewer may not yet have a SCOBY to use. In many cases, pre-made kits will offer a SCOBY to be ordered for free after the kit has been purchased. SCOBY can also be purchased from a variety of online retailers, or home-grown via purchasing an unflavored and raw kombucha from the store and leaving it to ferment for 4 – 8 weeks.
Once the initial SCOBY has been made, it can be used in the brewing process. Additionally, a new SCOBY will form over the period of fermentation, thus making it easier to continue brewing new batches with the recurring formation of the SCOBY. New batches also often use “starter tea,” which is typically around 1 – 2 cups of the unflavored liquid made in the last batch.
The 5 Best Kombucha Starter Kits for Home Brewing
To simplify the process of choosing a starter kombucha kit, we have selected 5 of the best kits currently available for purchase. For each, we will highlight a few of the pros and cons to help you decide which starter kit best fits your needs.
Get Kombucha Kombucha Starter Kit
This kit is beginner friendly and can produce large quantities. It is advertised as offering the largest kombucha culture (SCOBY) in North America, and includes all required brewing equipment.
Sadly, the glass storage containers will need to be bought separately.
Craft a Brew Starter Complete Kombucha Making Kit
This kit comes with all the basic equipment and provides the opportunity to get creative and try out different flavors. However, it only brews small batches – one gallon at a time – and does not come with storage containers.
Joshua Tree Kombucha Basic Starter Kit
This is the least expensive kit and is very beginner-friendly. This is a great kit for those buying on a budget and looking for simple instructions.
Unfortunately, it does not include all ingredients needed and equipment is basic – items such as sugar and pH test strips will need to be purchased separately.
The Kombucha Shop Deluxe Kombucha Starter Kit
This kit includes all required equipment, including storage bottles and custom supplies. But, it is the most expensive kit on this list. Additionally, it only provides enough ingredients for one batch, meaning for extra batches more ingredients will need to be purchased.
Fermentaholics Complete Kombucha Brewing Starter Kit
This kit is USDA certified organic and kosher. Plus, a recipe book is included and active customer support is advertised. However, there are only enough ingredients for a one-gallon batch.
Equipment Provided in Kombucha Kits
Like the ingredients, the equipment needed to brew kombucha is fairly simple and straight-forward. Kombucha may seem like a mysterious drink that requires a lot of technical and mechanical equipment to produce. This can lead to expensive kits being sold with tons of extra equipment.
In reality, it only requires five basic tools:
- A glass jar, preferably one gallon in size
- A breathable cloth, such as cheesecloth or muslin
- A spoon for stirring, preferably wooden or stainless steel
- Rubber bands
- Tea bags or tea balls – reusable are preferred
The initial green or black tea should be steeped in water that has been brought to a boil and then removed from the heat. This steeping process should be allowed to take place over the period of time from the boil to when the water cools.
From here, the tea leaves should be strained out or removed and the starter tea will be added. The liquid will then be transferred to the glass jar and the SCOBY will be added before covering with the cloth and sealed with rubber bands. This mixture should be left to ferment for around 7 – 10 days at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
While these are the basic tools, some brewers do choose to use additional equipment. This includes thermometers, pH test strips, pH meters, and juicers for adding flavoring later on. Additional equipment can aid in more precise brewing but is not ultimately required.
For those looking to brew on a budget, seeking out a kit with just the basics may be the best way to go when starting out.
Pre-Made Kits vs. DIY Brewing
As we have mentioned, it is important to pay attention to what is included within a kombucha kit before purchasing. Different brewers will have different desires and needs. As such, there will be different kits that suit varying experience levels.
There is certainly some debate amongst fans of home-brewing kombucha about whether pre-made kits are worth the money. The main argument against them seen is that the cost is too high compared to the amount of kombucha yielded.
Nonetheless, using a pre-made kit can be very helpful and educational for new brewers. Using a pre-made kit can also be useful in following the proper sterilization and hygienic techniques.
According to Mayo Clinic:
“Kombucha tea is often brewed in homes under nonsterile conditions, making contamination likely. When improperly manufactured ceramic pots have been used for brewing, lead poisoning has occurred — the acids in the tea can leach lead from the ceramic glaze.”
Thus, using a purchased kombucha kit can be a good way for a new brewer to ensure they are using the best and most proper equipment for the job that will avoid unwanted contamination. Once a brewer has familiarized themselves with the process and the correct techniques and proceedings, then they may choose to make DIY kits.
A DIY kit is less of a kit and more of the brewer collecting all the materials needed independently. This can ultimately be much more cost-effective and useful when producing larger amounts of kombucha. However, this also requires the brewer to have the correct knowledge of how to safely brew and what equipment to use.
It is important to always pay attention to what is included within a kombucha kit. Some kits may be more beginner-oriented compared to others. Kits may also provide different ingredients for additional flavorings, making the purchase of a kit customizable to a brewer’s desires.
The key to choosing a kombucha kit is to examine the ingredients and equipment included and decide on one that best fits your individual needs.
For those new to kombucha brewing, using a kit can be very helpful as it will likely include the best and safest equipment as well as thorough instructions and a source to order SCOBY from. For those looking to DIY a kombucha kit, make sure you have the proper amounts of each ingredient and have a reputable place to order SCOBY.