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What is Kombucha?

What is Kombucha? 

Kombucha is literally fermented sweet tea. Kombucha has been consumed by various cultures across the world for thousands of years. Recently kombucha has seen surge in popularity due to its many claimed health benefits such as regulating digestion and boosting immune. The easiest way to gain an understanding of Kombucha is to think of it as a cousin to apple cider vinegar. Like apple cider vinegar, Kombucha also has a tart taste, grows a “mother” or “culture” and host beneficial properties. In the Kombucha world we call the “mother” a “scoby” an acronym for (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). In case you did not know, each kombucha batch will grow a new scoby, this is a symbol that everything is fermenting correctly. 

 

Making kombucha is simple, it is literally just fermented tea. To make kombucha you will be steeping black or green tea in hot water then adding a generous amount of sugar to sweeten the tea. You will not be consuming all this sugar in the finished beverage. Sugar is food for the bacteria and yeast, around half of the sugar will be consumed by the bacteria and yeast during the fermenting process. The fermentation process creates acidic acid (vinegar) leaving you with a sweet, tart, and crisp kombucha. Once you have your sweet tea made you will need to add your scoby and starter tea. Contrary to popular belief it is not the scoby that starts the kombucha brew but the starter tea. A scoby is a byproduct and physical symbol that the starter tea worked and was of good quality. Starter tea is mature kombucha that has a low ph. A low ph of 3.5 - 4.0 is a must for a robust kombucha fermentation and the prevention of mold. If a new scoby does not grow, that means your starter tea was not mature or you did not start with enough starter tea. Starter tea by itself will start a kombucha batch and grow a scoby, in fact that is how we grow our scoby for home brew starter kits. Adding the scoby and starter tea is where the magic happens, the starter tea and scoby contain the live beneficial yeast and bacteria that will start the fermentation. We add 16 ounces of starter tea per gallon providing us certainty that our kombucha brew will be a success.  Some may say that 16 ounces of starter tea is over kill and that you can get away with just 8 -12ounces of starter tea. While this is true that 8-12 ounce of starter tea can ferment a one gallon batch of kombucha, it is also true that there is a strong possibility that the batch does not ferment and it molds due to immature starer tea or a lack or starter tea. Now that you have added your scoby and starter tea to your tea blend all you have left to do is cover your fermenting jar with a breathable cloth ( do not use cheese cloth) and allow to ferment for 7 -21 days depending on temperature and the taste you are going for. The longer the ferment to more tart the kombucha.