Out of all the different kinds of health drinks that people are interested in, there is nothing that outshines kombucha. Kombucha is praised for being unique, healthy, different, and somewhat of an anomaly.
After all, it is fermented tea, and that is not something that you see every day. When you are first getting into kombucha and working with it, you may not know what to expect and you might believe that it is an easy process.
The truth is that it is not easy for beginners to brew their own kombucha, for a variety of reasons.
For one, there is the fact that there are close to three stages for fermenting kombucha, starting from forming the SCOBY to the second pass of fermentation.
There is also the fact that kombucha can be rather finicky about its temperature and surroundings, and if you live in an area that does not have a moderately chilled place to store your kombucha, then you may be in for some trouble.
With all of this being said, one of the many problems that some people have with kombucha is not quite understanding why tea is such a vital aspect to it. With kombucha, the tea is to the rest of the drink the same way that grapes relate to wine.
At its core, the bacteria and yeast that gives kombucha its characteristic health benefits and taste feed best off black and green teas, which is why kombucha will almost always need some form of tea.
In fact, the type of tea you choose can have a massive impact on the way that your kombucha turns out as the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) digests and processes the sugars inside the tea.
If you end up using the “wrong” tea for your kombucha, there’s a good chance that you will be sorely disappointed in the results after the weeks of fermentation.
The Role That Tea Plays
As mentioned above, tea and kombucha are analogous to grapes and wine. It is an undeniable fact that kombucha needs to be fermented from tea to be considered kombucha, just as most people require wine to be fermented grape juice.
Most of the SCOBYs that you also invest in for your kombucha are going to be specifically designed to work with the ingredients and chemical composition of tea, and not other forms of liquid.
Tea, more often than not, has a fair amount of sugar in it, even if you are not adding sugars to it (as you should when you are making kombucha, since the sugars are fuel and food for the SCOBY).
If you are planning to make kombucha anytime soon, you will want to make sure that you fully understand how different teas can affect all aspects of the kombucha.
For instance, some teas are best used when you are only trying to farm a healthy SCOBY and you do not care as much about the taste of the tea afterward and you just want your SCOBY to be quality.
Other times, a tea should only really be used when you are making a later batch of kombucha, as the earlier types of kombucha will not be as “refined” as the more modern types of tea that are used in kombucha.
With all of this in mind, there are more than a few different types of teas that you will want to learn about and investigate when you are learning how to brew kombucha for the first time.
Finding the Right Tea for Your Kombucha
First things first, one thing that you should note about tea and kombucha is that it is absolutely possible to have a decaffeinated tea and have tea that will remain completely caffeine-free, which is good to know for people who enjoy decaffeinated things.
As you research kombucha and tea, you will find many, many sources that say that black tea is the best (and even only) tea that you should be using for your kombucha.
While it may be a bit of an overstatement to say that this kind of person is the only person who should be working with kombucha, it is a known fact that black tea goes wonderfully with kombucha. The nutrients in black tea are going to be the most optimal for making sure that your SCOBYs are thriving.
Next, there is going to be oolong tea. This tea may not be nearly as popular as other types of tea from around the same time.
Of course, oolong tea is still very good for you. Oolong tea doesn’t have that much said for it, which is all the more reason why you should consider putting it into your kombucha so that you can begin giving it more recognition.
The next type of tea that you can add to your kombucha list is going to be green tea. This is the second most common type of tea that people make use of when working with kombucha.
It is heavily recommended against for your first batch of kombucha, as its nutrients are not suitable for sustaining a brand-new SCOBY system.
However, green tea is excellent for sustaining additional SCOBYs so that when you get around to it, you will have what you need to ferment multiple kombucha bottles at once.
After that there will be white teas. White tea is in the same situation as green tea is compared to black tea. White tea is seen as inferior to green tea in many ways, so much so that people do not often compare white tea and black tea.
With that being said though, when you have a more robust and healthier kombucha batch lined up, you can begin using white tea as your fuel if you prefer the taste of it. You simply need to bolster it up at first with the stronger black teas.
If we are going down the chain of teas by ranking, after white tea will come red tea. Many people don’t even know what red tea is, especially if they are not someone who is enthused with tea. Red tea, which often goes by the name “rooibos” tea, falls beneath white tea in terms of quality in kombucha.
Much like with white tea, red tea can absolutely be your main fuel for your kombucha, but only after you have been strengthening batches with black and oolong teas first so that you can get all of those nutrients that you need from your health drink.
Last, but most certainly not least, there are herbal teas. These can be considered chai, jasmine, and chamomile teas. In the context of ranking teas for kombucha, herbal teas will fall last.
Again, after you make several batches of kombucha, beginning with your standard black tea, you can then switch to using herbal teas as your SCOBY’s fuel. You just have to make the rest of the kombucha a little bit stronger to handle it.
With all of these different types of teas to consider and keep track of in your head, it can be easy to become confused and even overwhelmed.
However, the easiest way to go about knowing what kind of tea you can use is to make sure that your first two batches of kombucha are made with black tea. This will provide you with a strong kombucha base, giving yourself a good canvas to work with when you want to add teas that you prefer to the mix.
With enough time and diligence, you can feel confident in knowing that you will be able to enjoy kombucha made with your favorite type of tea, and you can easily answer someone if they ask if kombucha really requires tea.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.