Kombucha 101

By now, you’ve likely heard of kombucha, but if you have yet to try it or have wondered what it is, we’ll get you up to speed. We know a thing or two about kombucha and love sharing our knowledge and our brews! Here are the most common questions we hear about kombucha:

What Is Kombucha?

In the most basic sense, kombucha is a fermented tea beverage whose beginnings have been traced as far back as 221 B.C. in China, Japan and parts of Europe. While the recipes and ingredients have changed over the years, the concept of fermenting tea has remained. Today, kombucha has become mainstream. The market value of kombucha was estimated at over one billion U.S. dollars in 2016 and is predicted to grow to $2.5 billion by 2022. To put that into perspective, soda sales fell as much as 9.2 percent in 2016 as consumers are opting for healthier options.

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How Is Kombucha Made?

Specific bacteria and yeast is added to different types of tea, typically green or black tea, to begin the fermentation process. From there, however, the recipes and techniques vary widely. For instance, some brands will “cook” their brew to remove potential harmful bacteria and excess alcohol that is produced during the fermentation process. They may then add their own concoction of probiotics and even carbon dioxide to the mixture to create the fizz. For flavor, many kombucha makers will add juices, sugars, flavorings and other ingredients.

Brew Dr., on the other hand, prefers to keep our brews “raw” so they retain all of the fizz and live bacteria that are naturally-occurring live and active cultures. We never add flavorings, juices or anything else other than organic botanicals, like dried herbs and roots, and whole fruits. Did we mention our brews begin with the best tea out there? Brew Dr. began as a teahouse, you see. We know tea. We use our Townshend’s Teahouse teas in every brew so we can offer a better kombucha. We hope you’ll agree that our “no shortcuts” approach is worth the effort!

Why Is Kombucha Fizzy?

Much like beer, the fermentation process causes the tea brew to become effervescent. The bubbles are more subtle than in a beer or soda, but you definitely feel a “fizz” on the tongue. If the brew is pasteurized, the live bacteria are killed and so is the fizz. This is why kombucha manufacturers who do this often add carbon dioxide to their mixtures. If the kombucha is “raw,” it is never heated to kill bacteria and the natural fizz is retained.  

Is Kombucha Healthy?

Kombucha tea is a great alternative to drinks with added sugars, such as sodas, and does contain live and active cultures that many believe to be healthful. Depending on the kombucha manufacturer, a serving of kombucha tea has between 5 and 10 grams of sugar, compared to 39 – 65 grams of sugar in a cola. Brew Dr. Kombucha ranges from 5-6 grams of sugar per serving.

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There Are So Many Kombuchas – What Makes Them Different?

Yes, kombucha varieties range as much as sodas, teas and sparkling water brands. The differences are many, but in the end, it comes down to a few things:

Taste – no matter how it was made or what’s in it, you have to like the flavor to drink it and keep buying it. Try different varieties to find the ones you love.

Ingredients – if you care about what’s in your kombucha, read labels. We believe ingredients matter in our kombuchas as much as they do in food. Higher quality ingredients will result in a higher quality brew.

Sugars – if you are trying to reduce sugar in your diet, be sure to check out the sugar content of your kombucha. Remember: every 4 grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar. Not all sugars are the same, however. Read those labels to see if the sugar in your kombucha is naturally occurring from the fruit and fermentation process (yes, fermenting any beverage will produce natural sugars), or if added sugars in the form of cane sugar, fruit concentrates, evaporated cane juice, maple syrups, stevia, high fructose corn syrup, etc. are on the label.

How It’s Made – if the kombucha is raw, it will offer naturally-occurring live and active cultures. If it is pasteurized, cultures have likely been added after the brewing process.

Do I Shake Kombucha to Mix the Ingredients?

NO! You wouldn’t shake a beer or a soda, so don’t shake your kombucha. If you see bits of mystery ingredients settled at the bottom of your kombucha bottle, those are naturally-occuring bacteria that make kombucha kombucha. You can gently tilt your closed bottle back and forth to distribute, or leave the happy particles right where they are.

Does Kombucha Have to Be Kept Cold?

Yes. Kombucha contains live and active cultures that can die if heated. Keep your kombucha in the fridge or in a cooler of ice to keep it fresh and alive.

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Can Kombucha Be Used in Cocktails and Recipes?

Absolutely. Not only does kombucha add a special pop to any mixed drink (adult or otherwise), it is often used in smoothiesbaked goodsgrain bowlsgranitas and more. With all of the flavors to choose from, kombucha provides a depth of flavor unlike anything else.

Does Kombucha Contain Alcohol?

The fermentation process naturally produces a small amount of alcohol in kombucha. In order to be considered a non-alcoholic drink, kombucha brews must have less than 0.5 percent alcohol. For comparison, a beer contains about 4.5 percent alcohol.

Does Kombucha Contain Caffeine?

Kombucha will have about half the amount of caffeine as the tea used to produce it. A bottle of Brew Dr. Kombucha contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee.

How Much Kombucha Safe to Drink?

Kombucha is bubbly, fermented and contains live and active cultures. Before you start drinking bottles a day, try having one to make sure your digestive system is cool with it. While kombucha is safe to drink for the whole family, every person is different. Some people say kombucha helped relieve digestive issues, but until you know how your body will react, try adding it into your diet slowly.

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