It might seem like kombucha only recently became popular, but it’s been enjoyed for thousands of years. No, that isn’t an exaggeration — Kombucha’s roots have been traced back to China and Korea in as early as 221 BC.
Even then, people recognized that the delicious and unique taste of kombucha was something special.
The resurgence of kombucha is a welcome shift in our society. After all, who wouldn’t want a drink that generally contains less sugar than other traditional drinks like fruit juices?
As booch has become a more significant part of our daily diets, it makes sense that people would have questions. That is why we’ve assembled an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to demystify this multifaceted beverage.
Maybe you’re drawn to kombucha (and its hard variety) for its natural elements, its typically low sugar content, or its ABV, or maybe you simply want to see what all the fuss is about. Whether your questions range from the taste of different blends to the kombucha fermentation process, we’ve got the answers.
What Is Kombucha, Anyway?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, we need to establish what kombucha is.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that uses black tea or green tea to achieve its signature flavor. Good bacteria and yeast are combined to create SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria). From there, kombucha makers can use added flavors, ingredients, and production methods to create unique recipes.
The process of brewing kombucha has not changed much since it originated, and that’s a good thing. It means that kombucha has managed to stay simple while other drinks have become more complicated (and processed).
That said, there is always room for innovation. Though much of the initial fermentation process remains the same, we can incorporate new flavors and methods when making our booch.
For instance, Flying Embers utilizes a unique means of carbonation in making our own kombucha.
A batch of kombucha will naturally give off CO2 during the brewing process. Unlike how other brands make kombucha, we recapture that CO2 to give our beverages a delightful fizz.
What Does Kombucha Taste Like?
After discovering what kombucha is, most people have a few questions. First, what does it taste like?
If you haven’t yet tried your first batch, it can be hard to imagine how kombucha might taste. Is it similar to an herbal tea, a loose leaf tea, or an oolong? Does it taste like other fermented foods and drinks, like kefir or kimchi?
Kombucha’s flavor profile is unique. There isn’t anything quite like it, and that’s what makes it so special. The flavor is peppy and enlivening, with a tartness that will keep you wanting more. There is a tang to kombucha that pairs perfectly with both fruity and flowery notes.
The taste of kombucha can vary significantly depending on if it is unflavored or if the finished kombucha is created with additional notes. Including delicious, unique flavor pairings in kombucha is part of what makes these beverages so fun.
The result is a tea with a variety of complex tastes that is sure to intrigue all types of palates.
We have carefully cultivated a variety of options that complement kombucha’s distinctive flavor. For lovers of the fruitier things in life, options like our Wild Berry or Orange Passion Mimosa are sure to please.
Wild Berry’s creative blend of more familiar flavors like raspberry and rarer fruits such as elderberry and goji berry pairs perfectly with the crisp fizziness of kombucha.
Our Orange Passion Mimosa Hard Kombucha offers a more citrus-forward flavor, highlighting the drink’s deliciously tangy notes.
Why Isn’t My Kombucha Fizzy?
Kombucha does contain enlivening fizz, but you might be confused to find that your drink of choice has flattened. After all, carbonation is part of what makes this drink so exciting.
There are a few reasons your kombucha might’ve gone flat, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the beverage is no longer safe to drink (but more on that later).
You should store your kombucha in the fridge. This is the best environment to preserve the drink in its natural state, and most people prefer to enjoy it chilled rather than at room temperature. However, by keeping kombucha in a cooler environment, the yeast creating the bubbles can go inactive over time.
Allow us to geek out over the science behind it all for a second.
Kombucha typically becomes carbonated when it is packaged or bottled, in a process referred to as “second fermentation.” This only occurs when the drink is kept at room temperature, and the yeast can interact with sugar, emitting bubbles of CO2. These CO2 bubbles are what make the carbonated effect that so many of us know and love from our kombucha.
As a result, there’s thankfully a simple way to bring your kombucha back to its former fizzy glory. Before drinking it, put it out at room temperature for a short time. This gives the beverage’s ingredients a chance to work together, making the drink just as carbonated and peppy as you want it to be.
That said, it’s important to monitor your kombucha, and it shouldn’t be kept at room temperature for prolonged periods of time. If the drink is left out for too long, it can eventually go bad or expire.
How can a fermented drink expire? Well, we’re so glad you asked.
Is My Kombucha Expired?
Since the fermentation process relies on its ingredients interacting over time, it can be tricky to find out when and if it’s expired. Luckily, determining whether your kombucha is still good is a similar process to any other food or drink.
The state of your kombucha comes down to a few factors.
First, give the beverage a smell. Does it have an overly vinegary smell? A subtle vinegar smell and taste are typical in kombucha, but the flavors should always feel balanced. Once the tastes seem off — or if you’re primarily getting notes of vinegar — this is a strong indication that your kombucha is past its prime.
If the kombucha was stored at room temperature for a prolonged period, take an extra moment to consider your kombucha before drinking it. It hasn’t necessarily expired, but it might have fermented beyond the point of being pleasant. Thankfully, Flying Embers’ booch is shelf-stable, so you won’t have to worry about that over-fermentation.
Lastly, take a look at the floaty stuff. It should be a nice brown color, but if the color has changed, your kombucha might no longer be at its best.
What’s the Floaty Stuff in Kombucha?
First-time kombucha drinkers may have some questions about the floaty stuff in their kombucha, but it’s a perfectly normal part of any booch.
Remember when we mentioned SCOBY? Well, it’s time for that little marvel to make a long-awaited reappearance.
A little extra SCOBY is sometimes created during secondary fermentation, along with naturally-occurring carbonation. However, if this floating SCOBY has turned an odd color other than brown, it might have gone moldy and is therefore no longer good.
Is Kombucha Alcoholic?
As a result of fermentation, there is a small amount of alcohol in all kombucha. However, depending on the specific fermentation process it underwent, the amount of alcohol can vary significantly.
Non-alcoholic commercial kombucha has under 0.5% ABV (Alcohol By Volume). However, some kombuchas are specifically made to have higher alcohol content. For instance, Flying Embers kombuchas range from 4.5% to 8.5% ABV.
When it comes to kombucha, there really is a perfect brew out there for everyone.
Is Kombucha Shelf-Stable?
Kombucha is typically best kept in the refrigerator, as this will help to maintain the balance of ingredients and flavors. The good news is that it can last for a long time once it’s in there.
Once you open your kombucha and it interacts with the air, it should be finished shortly thereafter.
Is Kombucha Gluten-Free?
Our kombucha doesn’t contain any gluten or glutenous ingredients, making it 100% gluten-free.
Is Kombucha Vegan?
Kombucha has no animal products whatsoever, making it vegan. However, some kombucha uses honey or non-vegan additives, colors, and flavors. Thankfully, Flying Embers’ Hard Kombucha is vegan — and it’s USDA Organic, too.
Is Kombucha Keto-Friendly?
Some kombucha is keto-friendly while others aren’t. However, you can rest assured that Flying Embers’ Hard Kombucha is keto-friendly, complete with zero sugar and zero carbs.
Hard Kombucha: Love at First Sip
Kombucha tea is rife with benefits to enjoy, whether you make it via a DIY homebrew, or get it from brands who are committed to quality and giving back to the environment.
Kombucha 101: Demystifying The Past, Present And Future Of The Fermented Tea Drink | Forbes
Kombucha tea: Does it have health benefits? | Mayo Clinic