What is kombucha tea? A little bit of booch-science

We don’t like to dwell too much on the science of what we brew; we think you are more interested in sitting back and quaffing a wonderfully rich and refreshing glass of kombucha and leaving the boffin bit to us. But for those that want to understand a bit of what we do, here goes.

So, what is kombucha tea?

Kombucha is a mixed yeast and bacterial fermentation of sweet tea. Basically, what that means is brewing sweet tea and adding to it an ancient and carefully evolved culture that slowly converts all the proteins and sugars into the kombucha flavours you love.

We carefully manage our own kombucha culture. A bacterial and yeast formation that has been handed down over generations and likely evolved over centuries, this is the core of what we do. Called our Old Mothers, we feed, keep warm and are even known to talk to Gaia, Molly, Nathalie and Leda. May they each continue to produce babies for many years to come.

What’s going on in that kombucha jar?

When pitched into the brew, first the yeast gets to work. The yeast breaks down the sugars in the tea to glucose and then consumes the glucose to make ethanol (or alcohol as we more commonly know it). The yeast also produces a whole range of different organic compounds that give the booch its individual and unique flavour. These flavours are completely different depending upon the temperature of the brew (even 1°C can make a big difference), the tea used and other environmental conditions.

At the same time, but slightly slower to get going, the healthy bacteria get to work. Kombucha culture contains bacterias similar to those that make vinegar, but while vinegar only makes acetic acid, kombucha produces only a small amount of acetic acid alongside plenty of much softer, less tart acids.

How long does it take to brew kombucha tea?

The primary brewing process can take anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks. We test the kombucha almost every day and take it off when the flavours are just right: too short a time and you get a really sweet and sugary soft drink, too long and you get a really potent vinegary brew.

Real Kombucha then goes into conditioning. We are one of the only brewers that focuses heavily on conditioning their booch, but keeping it in controlled conditions for a another 1-4 weeks allows all the rich aromas and flavours to round out, and particularly the acids to soften. In this way you get a kombucha that is both rich and yeasty but soft and delicate.

Conditioning is carried out under carbon dioxide in order to prevent further fermentation. It also enables us to tweak the natural level of carbonation or fizz before we bottle up our Real Kombucha for shipping out.

So now you can drink comfortably, knowing that each bottle of Real Kombucha tea that you consume has been brewed with enormous care and attention, and bottled with love. But don’t dwell on it too much or you’ll miss out on one of life’s wonderful little flavours. Let us take care of the hard work, you concentrate on supping. 

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