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16 April 2021

Kombucha Fermentation - The Process

By now, you’ve probably dipped your toes into the world of kombucha. You’ve certainly seen all the different flavour combos available and maybe even tasted a few, but do you know how this fizzy, sweet and tangy drink comes to be?

Kombucha undergoes a fascinating transformation that starts off as boring old tea and finishes as the sour, slightly vinegary concoction you’ve grown to know and love. Pop a bottle (or a can), settle in and prepare to become a ‘booch expert!

But First—What Exactly is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fancy word to describe fermented tea. The ingredients list for standard kombucha is only four items long but creates one of the ultimate super foods. This healthy bevvy combines green or black tea, a hint of sugar and the two main stars of the show—bacteria and yeast.

That sounds pretty yuck, right? Wrong! Kombucha tea is super delish, we promise! In fact, bacteria and yeast are what give kombucha its fizz and its signature tangy flavor. When these key ingredients ferment together, one of the byproducts is acetic acid. Health benefits aside, acetic acid will satisfy your craving for a sour punch.

Bacteria and yeast use their combined powers to create the SCOBY (AKA, the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). This culture is what packs the drink with probiotics that make this bevvy one of the healthiest on the market. A single bottle of kombucha contains billions of beneficial bacteria—those nasty germs don’t stand a chance!

Too many people miss out on the bliss of ‘booch because they’re put off by the idea of drinking fermented bacteria and yeast. But when you opt for a sweet kombucha drink, all you’ll think about is downing the can and cracking open another.

kombucha brew

How the Brew Masters Do It

Kombucha starts off as a regular batch of piping hot tea. Boil some water, let the tea steep for a few minutes, then mix in a bit of sugar. (Note: that sugar isn’t to taste—more on that later.)

Here’s where it gets weird. You need something to transform your typical glass of sweet tea into tangy, fermented deliciousness. If you go back to the list of ingredients, you’ll see that all you’re missing now is the bacteria and yeast. Dump those in, and you can start the fermentation process!

Yep, that’s right. To make kombucha, brewers plop a big, juicy SCOBY into the cooled tea. You could look up pictures of a SCOBY, but we’ll describe it for you anyway. The bacteria and yeast culture form a squishy, slimy, tan lump that floats in the concoction. It’s not the most appetizing thing in the world, but it’s what you need to make your delicious ‘booch!

Don’t worry—the SCOBY gets taken out later. Some brands like to sell kombucha in its purest form and will skip pasteurization. In this case, you might see a little bit of “the mother” (a fun nickname for the SCOBY) floating on top of the kombucha. You can fish it out with a spoon, but the SCOBY is perfectly safe to ingest. Plus, you’ll get extra probiotics!

But back to fermentation. Remember the sugar you mixed in earlier? That’s food for the SCOBY. Bacteria eat up the sugar and use it to make tangy-tasting byproducts like acetic acid and ethanol.

Kombucha is also low in sugar and calories because most of the sugar added at the beginning gets metabolized during the fermentation process. That’s why brewers often add fruit and juice post-fermentation to make kombucha a tasty treat that still has much less sugar than other fizzy bevvies.

With all your ingredients combined, all you have to do is sit and wait. The fermentation process takes anywhere between a week and a month, depending on how strong you like your kombucha. The longer that SCOBY is left to do its thing, the more vinegary the finished product will taste.

Kombucha tea that tastes like vinegar isn’t for the faint of heart. If you buy kombucha for the first time and catch a whiff of vinegar, you might get turned off from the bevvy for good! Kombucha that ferments for just a week is subtly sweet and is better for easing people into the world of ‘booch.

After about a week, all you have to do is take out the SCOBY, mix in some extra goodies like fruit juice to taste, bottle it up and drink (or in our case, send it to ‘booch enthusiasts far and wide)!

Benefits You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

The health benefits of this probiotic drink are as numerous as the number of bacteria in each can. For starters, the billions of healthy bacteria are a must for good gut health. They help the digestive process move right along, which means a bottle of kombucha is the perfect remedy for a cranky stomach.

You probably know that there’s good bacteria and bad bacteria—in your gut and elsewhere. Kombucha tea pumps your body full of the good stuff to flush out the bad. The SCOBY will give your immune system a boost so you spend less time bogged down with a cold and more time drinking alcoholic kombucha with friends!

Your immune system isn’t the only thing that gets stronger with a bit of ‘booch. Kombucha tea is chock full of all the essential B vitamins that promote healthy skin. One bottle a day will banish acne, even out your skin tone, restore elasticity, resist sun damage, create a supple glow…must we go on? This drink is an obvious win!

Additionally, if there’s one thing we can all do without, it’s free radicals. These unstable molecules cause cell damage throughout your body. Free radicals that spiral out of control can leave you vulnerable to many different forms of cancer and a slew of other chronic diseases. But, you won’t have to worry so much about free radicals with a bottle of kombucha in your hand. Kombucha ingredients are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that fortify your body against these cell-destroying dangers.

There’s even more good news—kombucha can be the perfect gluten-free alcoholic drink! Beer tends to be the go-to for a chill weekend, but not if you live with celiac disease. This makes it nearly impossible to digest gluten, a protein found in wheat and—you guessed it—beer. Kombucha makes an awesome base for gluten-free alcohol, so you can get in on all the fun without paying for it later.

Oh, and did we mention that kombucha is vegan, too? That’s one big L for other fizzy drinks and one more point for boozy ‘booch! Most beverages on the market don’t accommodate for gluten sensitivities and vegan lifestyles. Kombucha tea is the best choice when you want to unwind while staying healthy. With just a little extra fermentation (and maybe a splash of vodka), you’ve got a refreshing glass of vegan, benefits-packed alcohol.

FAQs to Quench Your Thirst for Kombucha Facts

Here’s our official crash course to make you a ‘booch connoisseur.

Kombucha is a yummy bevvy made with sweetened green or black tea and fermented with a culture of bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY converts sugar into acids that give kombucha a sour, tangy flavor.

Absolutely! Besides the fact that it’s super tasty, kombucha has grown in popularity all over the world thanks to its many health benefits. The drink is packed with organic acids, probiotics, antioxidants and B vitamins. Kombucha ingredients are great for gluten-free and vegan peeps, gut health, the immune system, cell restoration and skincare, to name a few. The list goes on!

SCOBY stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” That’s a fancy way of describing bacteria and yeast mushed together to create a slimy, tan blob that ferments the tea. Brewers select specific species of bacteria and yeast to create the right chemical reaction during the fermentation process. A SCOBY grows as it eats up sugar and can split off into a second one for the next batch!

The two main ingredients are bacteria and yeast. We know what you’re thinking—why would anyone want to DRINK bacteria?! Trust us, we only use the good stuff. Healthy bacteria and yeast are essential for creating that sweet and sour taste kombucha is known for. One bottle of booch contains BILLIONS of microbes that give your whole body a boost!

Most kombucha brewers ferment their tea between a week and a month. Brewers switch up the time period depending on how strong they want the ‘booch to taste. Like it sweet? Try a brand that ferments for just a week. Like vinegar? Go for the ‘booch that’s been sitting around longer.

Kombucha tea that ferments for a month or less contains only trace amounts of alcohol—about 0.5% per bottle. Alcohol naturally occurs in kombucha because the SCOBY releases ethanol during the fermentation process. Brewers can up the alchy by fermenting it for longer…or by throwing vodka into the mix. This brings the alcohol content anywhere between 4­­–­7% and makes kombucha a healthy alternative to beer.

Brewing Boocha Is Best Left to the Pros

Even though the process sounds simple, fermentation is easy to mess up. Sure, you could technically make kombucha at home, but too often, people have no idea what they’re doing and wind up with a concoction that’s the opposite of healthy. Every step in the fermentation process has the opportunity to go wrong, which could result in a really bad batch of ‘booch!

The consequences are more serious than you might think. Whatever jar used during the fermentation process has to be completely sterile, otherwise harmful bacteria can invade the SCOBY and leak into your kombucha. Without a proper seal on the jar, all sorts of contaminants can get into the kombucha, and you wouldn’t notice it until weeks later. The SCOBY is a breeding ground for bacteria, both good and bad.

If you’re not careful, one bottle of bad ‘booch can land you in the hospital! The SCOBY can grow fungi that’s deadly to humans and looks like a natural part of the fermentation process to the untrained eye. But those colorful, fuzzy patches are definitely NOT supposed to be there. Only brew masters know how a healthy SCOBY looks.

Skip the hassle (and the hospital trip) and purchase a pack of ready-made kombucha, instead. Every bottle is crafted by top brew masters who’ve spent years perfecting their fermentation methods. There’s no need to wait on your SCOBY for weeks when you can pop over to the store and quench that fizzy craving in an instant!

If a typical can of kombucha is too blah for you, it’s time to elevate your ‘booch game to the next level with Boozy Boocha. Our bevvies are spiced up with a splash of vodka, giving our ‘booch all the buzz of beer with none of the regret. Once you uncover the magic of boozy kombucha, you’ll never look back!

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