Why we don’t flavour our Kombucha

As you probably know by now, kombucha is a yeast and bacterial fermentation of sweet tea that produces a drink that sits somewhere along the spectrum of cider, beer and wine. That said, it has a very low alcohol content, has pretty low sugar and only a few calories, and there are those that would have us also believe that it is a cure for almost every ailment in the book. We are not completely convinced, but it certainly makes you feel tip top.

Strange brew

The kombucha brewing process builds up an amount of acid in your batch depending upon how long you leave it. These acids are thought to be very food for your gut health, but too much of it (or too much of the wrong batch) can lead to a pretty tart and unpalatable brew. It requires enormous care and attention to get this just right.

Most home brewers, and many commercial brewers, don’t have the scale or the equipment to manage the brewing process that tightly. Even tiny things you might not have thought about can have an effect. If you are brewing in the kitchen, for example, and you turn the oven on, the temperature of your brew is likely to go up, affecting the flavours that you produce. Testing the brew’s constituents on an hourly basis is out of scope for most.

So to cover these variations, most people will flavour their booch. This allows you to suck it down without embarrassing yourself with your worst booch face. And we won’t deny it: some of the poorer batches can be brought up a notch with a bit of ginger, some fresh raspberries or even a splash of gin.

At Real Kombucha, however, we have spent almost two years developing a culture and a process that produces wonderfully fine, delicate flavours with no need for additional flavouring.

Mum’s the word

Firstly, it is all about the culture. We have a lot of respect for age and wisdom, so we spend an enormous amount of time with our ‘Old Mothers’, Gaia, Molly, Natalia and Leda. They need warmth and regular feeds in order for them to reproduce effectively, and we choose the right mother for each batch to ensure we draw out the best flavours.

Then comes the process. We have worked out the exact temperatures that produce the finest fermentation notes at each stage in the brewing process, and we test our booch obsessively to ensure we know exactly when to take it off to get the right fruity and acid balance. We then condition Real Kombucha for between one-to-four weeks to ensure that those flavours really round out.

Tea total

The final critical element of Real Kombucha’s flavour is the teas we use. Over the past 2 years we have tested almost 100 different teas to identify what we believe to be the best leaves to create the finest flavour notes in your bottle of Real Kombucha.

For example, we tested almost 20 different Yunnan teas from different gardens at different altitudes, processed in different ways in order to find the one that gave us the delicate caramels and overnotes of smoke that makes our Real Kombucha Smoke House flavour. And it didn’t end there. We experimented long and hard to get a brewing process designed specifically for Smoke House, too. There’s nothing random about a bottle of Real Kombucha!

Real Kombucha Yunnan tea
A nice cuppa Yunnan

This is nothing out of the ordinary for the beer and wine industry. No beer brewer would expect to be able to chuck a sack of grain and a handful of hops into a tank, mash with some boiling water and end up with the best British stout or the finest Belgian lager. These beers have been worked over years to get just the right flavours. And that’s exactly what we do at Real Kombucha.

Do you mix your beer, wine or cider with juices, herbs spices? No, of course you don’t. And while it can be fun to try, if you have the best teas then there’s really no need to do the same with kombucha? At Real Kombucha, we believe you deserve something better.

That said, I have been known to mix a little blackcurrant into a small glass of white Burgundy to make a delectable Kir, so who am I to judge?

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