The fermentation of kombucha
How does the magic happen - how can a simple sweetened black tea turn into a fizzy refreshing drink that tastes, for example, of mojito? 🤔
The answer is - through a simple process, called fermentation (that happens twice!).
Kombucha is simply an end product of fermentation of sweetened black tea. The fermentation starts after the sweetened tea is introduced to SCOBY (a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). The good bacteria and yeasts from SCOBY slowly transform sugars into acids. The end result is a living drink, a little sour to the taste, but still delicious and very nutritive. You know it under the name of kombucha.
Kombucha is already a perfectly good beverage after the first fermentation, but the vast majority of brewers and breweries let kombucha ferment for the second time - that's when the bubbles appear and different ingredients are added to change the drink's taste.
Maybe you've already heard or read about fermentation. This simple process of food or drink preservation is believed to be at least 10,000 years old - and lately it has become quite popular again. So called sour food (meaning fermented food) is becoming a part of our daily menus again: you probably know pickled vegetables, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and so on.
First fermentation od kombucha
During the first fermentation the living bacteria and yeast, housed in SCOBY, simply transform the sugars in the black tea into acids. This not so simple process is called fermentation.
First, we brew black tea, add sugar and cool it down with some cold water. Then SCOBY and its starter liquid are added. The container with the fresh brew is not completely sealed so the flow of fresh air is constant, but still any kind of infection is impossible due to the breathable cloth we use to cover the container.
This process lasts from 7 up to 14 days, depending on the SCOBY, tea, amount of sugar, temperature ...
The taste of freshly brewed kombucha depends on how long it ferments (sweeter after shorter fermentation, more vinegary/sour after longer fermentation). Also, a new SCOBY starts to form in the brew.
This is how we get the basic kombucha, ready to drink. But as told before, most people and breweries decide for a second fermentation.
If you let the kombucha keep fermenting for too long, you get a kombucha vinegar. You can use it in the same ways as you use "normal" (eg. apple cider) vinegars.
SCOBY is always stored together with a part of kombucha, harvested after the first fermentation. Such liquid (which is just a more acidic kombucha, really) is called a starter liquid.
So, after the first fermentation is done, we simply pour the freshly brewed kombucha into bottles and decide whether we will drink it as it is or usi it in a second fermentation.
The SCOBY (plus its starter liquid) is now ready for its next first fermentation - and so on, and on, and on ... You can repeat this process for as long as you like. With each brew a new SCOBY forms - you simply store it in some starter liquid or pass it on to a friend. Just remember - ALWAYS add starter liquid!
Photo by Klara Avsenik on Unsplash.
Second fermentation od kombucha
The kombucha we harvest after the first fermentation has a pleasant neutral taste and is often not carbonated yet.
If we want it to be fizzy and has a different taste, we need to add some additional ingredients.
These could be any kinds of fruits, veggies, herbs, spices ... or juices/purees.
Then we let the drink ferment for the second time. Usually, the bubbles appear - but they sometimes don't when homebrewing.
To stop the fermentation when we like the final taste, we store it in the fridge.
Photo by Shannon Milling on Unsplash
Now you know, what is fermentation and how kombucha is made! You can make your own now (if you have the proper ingredients) or you can always order it from our online shop and let us deliver it to your doorstep.
We can assure you it's made of the best certified organic ingredients. We brew it the traditional way in our modern facility, so we can guarantee you it's alive, tasty and good for your overall health and well-being.