By: Brew Your Bucha Posted: January 23, 2018 in Kombucha
People who have never tried kombucha always ask a simple question: what does kombucha taste like?
Should be straight forward. However, it’s surprisingly hard to answer. Kombucha is a fermented tea that is effervescent and has a tangy profile with light sweetness. It is acidic, so many people describe it as vinegary like apple cider vinegar. Think cold vinegar tea. Sound appealing to you? maybe not, but the taste grows on you. Especially when you hear the ways it can benefit your health.
The taste changes from bottle to bottle depending on the tea and water that is used, the brewer’s technique and recipe. Keep in mind that we are simply talking about raw kombucha in it’s most pure state.
Now throw in the next complication: the second fermentation.
This is where brewers will add flavor to the kombucha utilizing fruit, spices, flowers, herbs and any other creative combinations they can imagine. As a result, the end product has a wide range of flavors that suit your prefereces. So as we like to often do, will over analyse our favorite drink and give you a better idea of what goes in to each brew.
Like grapes are essential to wine, tea is of equal importance to kombucha. There are many strains of teas from all over the world and each one presents a unique twist to the palate. Green tea is used in many brews but the most common is black tea.
Black tea has a bold earthy flavor that leaves a dry finish in your mouth. This is the same in kombucha. Best paired with complimentary spices, fruits and flavors, you will often find a bottle of ginger or blueberry and cinnamon black tea kombucha in your local grocery store.
Green tea is lighter in color and flavor and tastes more grassy and floral. Tropical fruits and floral extracts such as peach and lavender mix nicely with green tea kombucha.
While uncommon, white tea can be used as well. White tea is minimally processed and not oxidized, this means that it retains it’s natural antioxidants, but does not develop as much flavor, color, or caffeine. Sweet or flowery flavors are characteristic.
A key element to the production of kombucha, sugar is food for the culture and the fermentation process. Much of the sugar is consumed by the culture and the end product only contains trace amount of the sugar that remains. Organic or white sugar is usually used and wont contribute to a material difference in taste.
The way that the kombucha culture (SCOBY) ferments the sweet tea will affect the flavor of the kombucha. Brewers will tweak their recipe to increase or decrease the fermentation time given their environmental conditions (temperature, quality of water). If the fermentation time is too short, the kombucha will taste sharp, sweeter and flat of carbonation. If fermented too long the kombucha tastes strongly of vinegar and can be off putting to some. The perfect fermentation time is subjective as each person has their opinion of what is an ideal taste and mouth feel.
In my opinion, this aspect of kombucha is the most interesting. Brewers have the ability to be creative, mixing fruit, herbs, flowers and spices to pair perfectly with all of the components of discussed above. What flavors go best with a strain of black tea with bold and spicy characteristics? Or, is it more important to brew the perfect raw kombucha and leave flavoring light to let the natural flavors shine?
These are questions that have no right answer. Each kombucha brew is as unique as the brewer and the person drinking it. This makes each sip of kombucha exciting. Kombucha evolves with each brew you make. Minor adjustments further perfect your craft. I don’t know about you but i’m excited to experiment with my next unique flavor!