There’s a lot of articles about home brewing kombucha out there, but not many go into detail about what kind of tea to use. Kombucha is fermented tea after all, so if we don’t use the right kind of tea or don’t use it correctly, our booch isn’t reaching its full potential!
Pure, organic, caffeinated loose leaf tea is the best green tea to use for home brewed kombucha. Green tea is full of antioxidant, and adds a more natural and bitter flavor to kombucha than other teas. And, because it’s organic and pure, there are no chemicals or pesticides to disturb the bacteria culture or put the drinkers health in jeopardy.
Although choosing the type of green tea for your kombucha sounds simple, there are a lot of things to learn about tea. in order to make the best tasting, healthiest kombucha without the possibility of mold developing. In this article, I'll cover everything I've learned about making green tea kombucha so that you can make great tasting, healthy kombucha and avoid mold growth. Let's start with the basics.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a carbonated and flavored probiotic drink made from fermented tea that has become quite popular in recent years due to its great taste and many health benefits such as improved digestion and gut health, detoxification, and immune system strengthening.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
There are many reasons drinking kombucha is a good idea, but one of the biggest ones is that it is full of beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. It’s these bacteria that ferment kombucha from sweet tea into sweet and sour kombucha. Probiotics are found in a lot of other fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, and some cheeses.
Your body, especially your gut, is filled with good and bad bacteria. It’s believed that the modern diet which is so full of sugar and processed foods harms the good bacteria in our gut. A lack of beneficial bacteria in the body can lead to digestive problems, diarrhea, and even infections such as candida.
Fermented foods with probiotics like kombucha replace and replenish these beneficial bacteria, and may
The Role of Tea in Kombucha
All kombucha actually begins the brewing process as sweet tea. This tea is usually made from either black or green tea, or a mixture of both. What turns this sweet tea into sour and probiotic filled kombucha is a living culture of bacteria.
This culture of bacteria, known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), eats the sugar and caffeine from the sweet tea and produces alcohol, acids, and carbon dioxide.
Once it has eaten enough sugar to make the kombucha bitter tasting, the SCOBY is removed and the 1st fermentation is complete. At this point the kombucha can be drunk, but it's not carbonated or flavored yet.
The carbonation and flavor is added in a 2nd fermentation. During this stage, the kombucha is sealed in glass fermenting bottles that are filled with fruit, juice, or herbs for flavoring.
Over the course of a few days, the kombucha in the bottles develops carbonation and flavor. It’s then refrigerated and ready to be drunk!
Why You Should Use Green Tea to Brew Kombucha
When brewing kombucha, it doesn’t really matter whether you use black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong, or a combination of them all.
I personally use green tea because I enjoy the more natural and bitter flavor it adds to my kombucha.
Green tea also has a higher concentration of antioxidants than most other teas that may help:
Improve brain function
Increase fat burning
Lower risk of prostate, colorectal, and breast cancer
Protect the brain from aging
among many other benefits.
Tea Used to Brew Kombucha Needs to be Pure, Organic, and Caffeinated
Whatever kind of tea you choose to use for your kombucha, it's important that it is pure, organic, and caffeinated.
It turns out that the first time tea leaves are washed is when you brew them! This means that if the tea you use isn’t organic, pesticides and chemicals are likely going to end up in your kombucha.
Even if you’re not worried about consuming these chemicals yourself, you should be worried for your SCOBY. Because the SCOBY eats basically whatever you give it, if there are chemicals and pesticides in your tea, it’s going to eat these things.
And because of how sensitive the SCOBY is, (even touching it with unwashed hands could damage it) if you give it something it’s not supposed to eat such as pesticides or chemicals, it’s going to get either killed, or weakened to the point where it can’t fight off mold growth.
Inorganic tea can work to make kombucha, but ideally, the tea you use to brew kombucha is organic.
The reason to use pure tea leaves to brew kombucha is that they will give you the cleanest flavor and most nutrients possible out of the tea. These extra nutrients are not only good for you, but will also be great for keeping the SCOBY healthy.
Another reason to use pure tea is that the chemicals in scented or flavored teas can hurt the SCOBY, leading to your kombucha tasting funny, the SCOBY dying, or your brew becoming moldy.
While organic and pure tea leaves will make better and healthier kombucha, they are optional. What’s not optional is that the tea you use to brew kombucha NEEDS to be caffeinated. Caffeinated tea is necessary because caffeine is one of the most important nutrients for keeping the SCOBY healthy.
The Best Green Tea for Brewing Kombucha
The green tea I use to brew kombucha is Davidsons 100% organic gunpowder chinese green tea.
This tea will add tons of antioxidants to your booch. And because it’s “gunpowder” there is more caffeine than most green teas, which means you don’t have to worry about mixing in black tea to get your SCOBY enough caffeine. You can get a pound of Davidons 100% organic gunpowder green tea for less than $10 on Amazon here.
Green Tea Kombucha Recipe (1 Gallon)
Now that you know all about green tea and kombucha, you're ready to start brewing. The recipe below will make an awesome green tea based kombucha. If you don’t have some of the equipment or ingredients yet, you can just click on the underlined item to view my favorite one on Amazon.
You also can check out the article I wrote on The Top 5 Things You Need to Start Brewing Kombucha to learn more about each ingredient or piece of equipment.
Once you have everything you need, it’s time to get brewing!
1 Gallon of Water 2 Tablespoons of Loose Leaf Green Tea
1 Cup of Sugar 1 Cup of Starter Tea
1. Brew Sweet Tea
Bring the 1 gallon of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove the water from the heat and steep 2 tablespoons of loose leaf green tea with a strainer for 10 minutes. After your tea has steeped, add 1 cup of sugar and stir in. Set aside the sweet tea to cool
2. 1st Fermentation
Once the sweet tea has cooled down to room temperature (hot tea will hurt the bacteria culture), transfer it into a 1 gallon glass jar that also contains your starter tea. Starter tea is a cup of kombucha from your last brew that will kickstart and protect the new brew from mold.
If this is your first brew and you bought your SCOBY online, it will come packaged with starter tea.
After washing your hands, add the SCOBY to the room temperature mixture of sweet tea and starter tea and cover the top of the jar with some cloth and a rubber band to keep fruit flies and other bugs out.
3. Wait 7-10 days
During the next week and a half, the SCOBY will ferment the sweet tea and create kombucha. 1st fermentation is done when the kombucha is at the right balance between sour and sweet. Taste test every day and once it has the taste you like, which it will probably reach around 7-10 days, you're ready to move on.
Tip: Remember, the longer you ferment your kombucha, the more sour it will be. This is because during the fermenting process, the SCOBY is eating the sugar from the sweet tea and processing it into alcohol and acids.
4. 2nd Fermentation
Now for the most fun part of brewing kombucha. At this point in the brewing process, we have made kombucha, but it’s not yet flavored or carbonated.
1st, set aside half a cup of booch to be starter tea for your next batch.
Now, we'll use a funnel to transfer the kombucha from the gallon jar into brewing bottles.
Brewing bottles are bottles that are made to seal air tight and allow build up of pressure without exploding. Partially fill these bottles with the flavoring that you want to add to your booch. This flavoring could be fruit, juice, herbs, roots, etc. I’ve found that fruit produces the best carbonation because of its high sugar content.
We’ll store these bottles filled with our kombucha and flavoring of choice at room temperature for 3-4 days. During this time your booch will develop carbonation and flavoring.
5. Start a New Brew
At this point, you can refill the gallon glass jar with: the starter tea you set aside earlier, a new batch of sweet tea, and your SCOBY to begin another brew. Then ideally, by the time you're done drinking this batch, the next one will be all ready to go!
6. Refrigerate the Bottled Booch
After 4 days of 2nd fermentation, your kombucha should be finished carbonating and you can now chill it in the fridge and drink it whenever you wish!
I’d recommend only opening the brewing bottles after they’ve been chilled since this will calm down the carbonation and prevent the kombucha from exploding like a shaken up can of coke when you open it.
If, when you open the brewing bottles for the first time, the booch isn’t carbonated enough, just set them back out at room temperature for a few more days and more carbonation will develop.
7. Drink Up!
Congrats! The hard work and waiting is all done and you can finally enjoy your home brewed kombucha! They say food tastes better when you make it yourself and kombucha is no exception.
Whether you’re a first time brewer or a kombucha veteran, these tea tips should help improve your next brew. Making kombucha the right way will lead to a better tasting and healthier booch that you’ll be proud to drink, and maybe even serve to your friends and family.
If you want to learn more about kombucha, how it relates to your health, and even how to brew it yourself, check out the rest of my website!