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15 July 2021

What Is Kombucha Made Of?

Even though kombucha has taken over the health food scene, most people have no idea what it is. Those who are new to the ‘booch might have taken a sip of that sweet and sour tea, then peered into the can and asked, “What the heck is that goopy stuff floating in my drink???” You might have even looked up pics of SCOBYs and wished you hadn’t—after all, the SCOBY in kombucha looks like a slimy pancake harvested from an alien planet.

Kombucha tea is unlike any other bevvy. Although it might seem a bit yuck at first, the drink has garnered quite the cult following and provides many health benefits for people who can look past its appearance. Still, it’s not enough to simply state that kombucha is good for you. People want to know what they’re putting in their bodies! So, here’s the inside scoop on what’s floating inside your tall, delicious glass of “germ juice.”

Kombucha Ingredients

Kombucha tea is boiled down (pun intended) to four main ingredients: tea, sugar, yeast and bacteria.

Brewers have experimented with different types of tea, but black tends to work best. Black tea leaves are fully oxidized and provide the right balance of nutrients to feed the SCOBY (the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Some brewers prefer green, white or red tea because they produce more subtle flavours. The drawback on these, however, is that they don’t always have enough nutrients for the SCOBY. Brewers usually end up combining weaker teas with a blend of black tea leaves to get the perfect batch.

Plain old tea is best for making kombucha. Teas like Earl Grey contain added oils and fruits that mess with the fermentation process. Instead, brewers achieve those yummy kombucha flavours by incorporating fruit, herbs and spices after the fermenting process is complete.

Sugar-free bevvies are on the rise, but not for ‘booch! Without sugar, the SCOBY would starve and make kombucha brewing impossible. As brewers pick out their kombucha ingredients, they usually opt for white cane sugar because it’s free of minerals that would otherwise hurt the SCOBY. If you’re brewing at home, skip the Stevia and use real sugar!

The star of the show, the SCOBY, is made up of a special culture of bacteria and yeast. Any yeast will do, but experts recommend the genus Zygosaccharomyces kombuchaensis—yep, it’s a mouthful…of deliciousness, that is! Yeast does the heavy lifting in kombucha, transforming sugar into the acid that gives fermented tea its vinegary flavour.

Speaking of acid, it’s best to throw in something acidic to help the process move along. The best source of acetic acid comes from starter tea, which is a sample of a finished batch. If you don’t have starter tea, a good substitute is distilled white vinegar.

kombucha brew

Kombucha Brewing

The kombucha fermentation process is almost as simple as its ingredients list. Brewers start by steeping the tea like normal, then throwing in some yeast. Sugar feeds the yeast, which produces bacteria cultures and acid. The more sugar it consumes, the more sour the brew will be.

As the tea ferments, the bacteria and yeast combine to create the SCOBY. This tan, squishy lump isn’t something brewers add to the kombucha brew the first time around. Rather, it’s a byproduct of the fermentation process. Healthy SCOBYs are then plucked out of finished batches and used to create more ‘booch—easy peasy!

Brewers bottle up the concoction and set it aside, allowing it to ferment for somewhere between a week and a month. Fermenting for a shorter amount of time results in kombucha that has a mild, sweeter taste. Kombucha enthusiasts who like it strong should grab a bottle that’s been brewing on the shelf for around 30 days.

Shorter durations make kombucha sweet because there’s still some sugar that didn’t get gobbled up by the SCOBY. If you leave kombucha sitting around for long enough, the sugar will be gone, and it’ll taste like straight-up vinegar (and not just because you put actual vinegar in there)!

Even though there aren’t a ton of steps, kombucha brewing is not as easy as it seems. The SCOBY is a breeding ground for bacteria, both good and bad. Bottles have to be sterile and sealed properly, otherwise pathogens will make their way into your precious ‘booch. Many cases of illness have been linked to home brews gone wrong. Play it safe and leave kombucha brewing to the experts.

Hard Kombucha

Acid and probiotic bacteria aren’t the only byproducts of making kombucha. The fermented tea naturally contains trace amounts of ethanol, which is an alcoholic molecular compound. While kombucha technically has alcohol in it, a normal can of kombucha isn’t considered an alcoholic beverage. Anyone can drink the fermented bevvy since it doesn’t have enough alcohol to get your buzz on…unless you add more!

There are a couple different ways to create hard kombucha. Brewers can up the alchy content by fermenting booch for way longer than 30 days. Over time, the SCOBY will produce more ethanol than what you’d find in most cans of ‘booch. However, this process is time-consuming and only creates around the same effect as a beer.

The best way to create hard kombucha is by mixing in the good stuff! Brewers like Boozy Boocha spice things up with a splash of vodka to shorten the fermentation process while giving ‘booch lovers the alchy content they’re looking for. Adding hard liquor allows brewers to ferment kombucha for as much or little time as necessary in order to achieve the perfect taste while still letting you get boozy.

The fun doesn’t stop there. At Boozy Boocha, we blend our alchy bevvies with even more kombucha ingredients, including tropical fruits that’ll give you total summer vibes! DE-LISH!

FAQs

Here are some fast facts for all your burning ‘booch-related Qs.

It sure is! In fact, we dare say kombucha is one of the healthiest bevvies you’ll ever find. Kombucha is packed with probiotics that support gut health and your immune system. The fermented tea is also chock full of B vitamins, which boost energy levels as well as your mood. Kombucha is only bad when you mess up the fermentation process, so leave it to the pros!

SCOBY stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” It’s the flat, tan, slimy thing that forms on top of kombucha during the fermentation process. The SCOBY is what transforms sweet tea into a tangy bevvy!

Technically, kombucha has four main ingredients: tea, sugar, yeast and bacteria. All these ingredients are equally important for creating that signature sweet and sour, slightly vinegary taste we know and love!

If you see some floaters in your kombucha tea, don’t fret. That’s just part of the SCOBY! Some brewers don’t pasteurize their ‘booch, which means you’ll get a little more yeasty goodness in your drink. Don’t worry—it’s perfectly safe to drink the SCOBY and might even give you some extra probiotics!

Get Your Fill with Boozy Boocha

Normal cans of ‘booch just have fermented tea and SCOBY goop. That’s all fine and dandy, but regular kombucha gets boring pretty quickly! Raise your night out to the next level with a pack of Boozy Boocha’s hard kombucha. It’s got all those yummy probiotics, plus a kick of vodka for healthy, guilt-free partying. Cheers to that!

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