Kombucha can be made in an unlimited number of flavors and styles depending on the teas, fruit, herbs, spices and brewing techniques used. The final product can be sweet, tart or somewhere in between. There are very few limits when it comes to getting creative about making your own kombucha.
Kombucha can have a mild or strong taste depending on what's in it, how much of each ingredient is used and how it is made. Some kombucha is very light and tastes like flavored sparkling water. Some kombucha tastes much bolder and acidic like a strong drinking vinegar and may make your face pucker.
Kombucha Making Basics:
What is fermentation?
Kombucha fermentation is the transformation of tea and sugar into finished, drinkable kombucha by living ‘kombucha’ bacteria and yeast. To ferment means comes from the latin word meaning to boil, because at the time humans didn’t understand what was going on. They thought the bubbles that were produced during fermentation meant that the liquid was ‘boiling’ in some way. Today we know that the bubbles are gas produced by the microorganisms eating the tea and sugar.
What makes kombucha different? The microorganisms in kombucha are an unusual combination of both bacteria AND yeasts, coexisting together in the same environment, working together to transform the food present into something that they all benefit from.
The food for the kombucha microorganisms is the water, sugar, tea and other ingredients we add to the brewing container. The final product is a beverage that can be rich in highly accessible antioxidants, organic enzymes, amino acids, organic acids, probiotics, vitamins and minerals. Kombucha is different in that it tastes kind of like beer, wine, tea, vinegar, and soda all at the same time. Or you can just say kombucha tastes like kombucha. It is unique and wonderful, and can be made in many different and unique ways to achieve different styles, flavor profiles, fizziness levels, levels of sweet or sour, etc.
How does kombucha fermentation start?
Kombucha fermentation starts when we add a living ‘culture’ of specific ‘kombucha’ bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), and some kombucha liquid from a previous batch (KOMBUCHA STARTER) into a container of sweetened tea UNDER THE PROPER CONDITIONS in order for fermentation to occur.
Our job, as home brewers is to provide the PROPER CONDITIONS for fermentation (food, light, water, sugar, bacteria and yeast, and the proper environment and temperatures) so that these special microorganisms thrive and reproduce without being attacked by molds or pests, and over time, transform our sweetened tea into delicious, drinkable kombucha.
How long does it take to make kombucha? It takes one to four weeks of fermentation for the kombucha to develop its unique flavors and sourness as the sugars and nutrients in the tea are transformed from sweetened tea into kombucha. Time to finish brewing depends on how sour you prefer your kombucha and the temperature of the brew during the fermentation.
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