Kombucha is a widely recognized beverage known for its incredible taste and numerous health benefits. This drink is available for purchase in any local store, or natural food stores, but as of lately there is a trend on the rise; making kombucha at home. Many claim that making kombucha at home is rather easy, yields a lot of product and is even healthier than the commercial, bottled forms of the beverage. Truth to be told, homemade kombucha does require numerous ingredients, utensils, and of course, time and patience. Homemade kombucha can take anywhere between a week and a month to ferment but it seems to be worthy of the fuss.
Alongside ingredients like starter liquid (kombucha liquid from the previous batch) and the so-called SCOBY (cultured yeast and bacteria), you will, of course, need tea. Tea is an important ingredient, as it helps the bacteria and yeast to thrive, provides important nutrients and the overall flavor and aroma. Since there are so many varieties of tea, it can be really hard to choose the best one for your homemade kombucha. That is why we’ve decided to take a look at different varieties of tea and see how each variety interacts and behaves in this amazing beverage.
How to Choose the Best Tea for Kombucha?
Go for Actual Tea Leaves
Choosing the right tea is very important when making kombucha at home. It can actually make or break the whole process, so you should definitely invest some time (and money) in this part of the process. Now, the first thing to know about choosing the best tea is to start with the actual tea leaves. This means that you should only use the leaves that come from the Camellia sinensis, or the tea plant.
By using the actual tea leaves, you will ensure that the SCOBY actually grows and thrives during the fermentation process. Moreover, real tea will make your kombucha taste great; not to mention that it will be filled with antioxidants, polyphenols, and other beneficial compounds. Actual tea will also release caffeine and theanine which also help the process of culturing and SCOBY growth. Either way, the first step to choosing the best tea for your kombucha is choosing actual tea leaves, as you will get the best tasting, most nutritious kombucha you’ve ever tried.
Go for Organic Tea
Now, here’s the deal; making homemade kombucha is really tricky, as it can easily get contaminated and develop mold during the fermentation process. And, nobody wants their hard work to be for nothing, right? That is why it is important to pay attention to the ingredients in regards to being clean, pesticide- and toxin-free. For the same reason, it is recommended you go for organic tea, instead of the regular one. Why? Regular tea leaves can be covered in chemicals and pesticides which easily release during the brewing process in the hot water. When these get released, they contaminate the kombucha, inhibit the growth of the SCOBY, and you might even end up drinking such a potentially harmful combination of chemicals.
Go for Loose-Leaf Tea Instead of Tea Bags
Even though the use of tea bags seems more convenient, cheap and fuss-free, using loose-leaf tea will actually leave you with an amazing kombucha. The reason for that lies in several factors;
- Using loose-leaf tea equal to flexibility in regards to the amount you can use for brewing,
- Using loose-leaf tea ensures the quality of both, the sweet tea-brew as well as the kombucha;
- Using loose-leaf tea allows you to use several different blends and create your own, unique kombucha flavor,
- Using loose-leaf tea lowers the risk of kombucha contamination; sometimes the tea bags can release toxins and chemicals which can be harmful to the whole fermentation process,
- Using loose-leaf tea will yield less waste and product to throw away, like the tea bags which contain plastic or other, nylon-like materials.
Best tea for kombucha
If you’re looking to make a traditional kombucha brew, you should consider using black tea. It is considered to be the best tea choice because of its fully fermented leaves and the ability to provide the most nutrition necessary for SCOBY growth. Black tea also provides the best brewing conditions and it is able to control and provide the most consistent pH levels and well as the ideal flavor profile of the kombucha. Not to mention, black tea is very forgiving and is excellent for those who are only starting their kombucha brewing adventure.
When it comes to the right choice among the black tea varieties, we’ve figured that the following ones are the best;
- English Breakfast – organic English Breakfast tea might be the best choice to start with. This variety contains a blend of several black teas, usually containing Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan black tea. It yields exceptional flavor and aroma, reminiscent of fruit flavorings. It will make your kombucha taste bold, smooth and cidery, which pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the sugar and whole fermentation brewing process. The leaves of this tea are cut into small pieces, so make sure you strain the tea mixture very well before continuing the kombucha preparation.
- Darjeeling – now, if you’re not a big fan of English Breakfast, we recommend you try using Darjeeling black tea. Darjeeling is a smooth, refined and fruity tea that yields exceptional flavor and aroma in the kombucha. It is usually of high-quality and has a distinctive muscat grape characteristic to its flavor profile. If you’re a fan of bold-tasting kombucha, which is reminiscent of earthy and smoky aroma, then you should definitely go with the wonderful Darjeeling.
More: 11 Best Black Tea 2020
Now, when it comes to green tea and kombucha, you should know that it usually doesn’t make a solo appearance in this amazing beverage. Green tea is often paired with black tea to create an outstanding flavor profile. However, as of lately, green tea has been given a chance, and it has quickly become an excellent alternative to the black tea kombucha. Green tea is an exceptionally healthy drink by itself, so imagine all the nutrients and beneficial compounds it releases into the kombucha brew; from antioxidants, polyphenols to numerous vitamins, minerals, and organic acids.
However, the one disadvantage of green tea is that it takes much longer to brew than black tea. Black tea kombucha is ready for consumption after 7 to 10 days, while green tea kombucha might take up to a month. Nevertheless, kombucha culture simply loves green tea. The reason for that lies in its ability to grown healthy and tick using all the green tea nutrients. Green tea is ideal for those who are patient and don’t mind waiting for an amazing kombucha.
When it comes to making the right choice with green tea, here’s our recommendation;
- Jasmine green tea – using Jasmine green tea will yield a lighter-colored, softer-tasting kombucha, but it will be incredibly tasty and refreshing. Jasmine-scented green tea is very high in quality and it will surely add a tropical, sweet and fruity flavor and aroma to your kombucha. If you’re a fan of such flavor profiles and drinks that will make you feel rejuvenated and refreshed, then go for this wonderful green tea variety.
If you’re looking to make kombucha that has a softer taste, with hints of fruitiness and earthiness, then Oolong tea is the best choice for you. We believe that Oolong is exceptional if you simply want to use your kombucha for remedy purposes. The Oolong tea leaves are partially fermented and provide a wonderful amber-colored kombucha. Oolong tea is also excellent for the continuous brewing method, as it is known for releasing flavor and aroma for a longer time than black or green tea do (Oolong tea can be brewed up to 5 times for example). Moreover, this tea pairs wonderfully with other ingredients you choose to add to the kombucha; it goes excellently with other fruits (we recommend passion fruit for example), spices like ginger or cinnamon, even chia seeds, and other ingredients.
When it comes to making the right choice with Oolong tea, here’s our recommendation;
- Wuyi Oolong tea – organic Wuyi Oolong tea is one of the best teas out there; it is heavily oxidized compared to other Oolongs, as well as darker in color. This makes it exceptional for kombucha brewing. Moreover, Wuyi Oolong has a sharp and smoky flavor, as well as the aroma of caramel, butter or toast. This might not be everyone’s favorite description of tea flavor/aroma, but once you’ve had a taste of it, you’ll be instantly hooked. However, one disadvantage might lie in the fact that this tea can be rather expensive, and many believe that it is a waste to use it in kombucha. However, we recommend you make a small batch of kombucha with this tea, just to see if it is worthy of making more. Wuyi Oolong meets the gold standards for teas, so you might as well think about using it.
Which Teas Should You Avoid for Kombucha?
- Herbal Teas– herbal teas are not actual teas; as we have mentioned before, for a homemade kombucha you want to use the Camellia sinensis leaves. Moreover, by using herbal teas, you are lowering the chance of the SCOBY growth and development, as well as putting at risk the whole brew. The oils found in herbal teas can kill the bacteria and the yeast, and release toxins and pesticides which can contaminate the beverage.
- Flavored Teas – flavored teas are flavored through essential oils which can damage and inhibit the growth of SCOBY. Moreover, these teas do not contain the necessary nutrients essential for the SCOBY growing and thriving. Therefore, when choosing your tea for kombucha, make sure to stay away from these teas. Moreover, beware of black tea varieties that contain bergamot essential oil, like Earl Grey.
- Smoked Teas – smoked teas are extremely strong in flavor and aroma, and surely don’t pair well with the taste of kombucha. They can be overwhelming and can completely destroy your kombucha batch.
When it comes to choosing the best tea for your kombucha, as long as you’re using organic, loose-leaf tea, you should be good to go. Teas like black, green, Oolong and even Pu-erh or Rooibos are excellent choices that will make your kombucha taste wonderful and refreshing. However, before making kombucha it is important to learn about the teas and how they behave during the fermentation process. It is also important to know what kind of flavor profile they will yield. Luckily, the information is available to you in this compelling little article, which we hope will eventually help you make the best choice.