What’s the best kombucha tea out there? I frequently get asked this question by those starting out. As there are a plethora of teas on the market, along with many drinks masquerading as tea, it’s pretty tough to find your way through it all. So here’s a little of what I’ve learnt during my years brewing booch.
Kombucha tea: are all teas created equal?
First off, when we are talking tea in general, we mean the leaf of the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. It is the same plant at the base of all black, green, white, oolong and pu’er teas. In fact, there are even only two varietals: Camellia Sinensis and Camellia Sinensis Assamica, which, as its name suggests, is the main varietal planted in Assam and has a slightly larger leaf.
So chuck out all of those herbal teas, and even those flavoured teas such as Earl Grey. Likewise for anything that is a mix of tea and other leaves such as rose petals. The kombucha scoby has evolved specifically to ferment a blend of Camellia Sinensis and sucrose, or common or garden table sugar.
Kombucha tea: test your balance
So now we have narrowed it down, the next big question is whether you are focused on consistency or flavour. If you are brewing from one batch to the next, or continuous brewing as it’s known among kombucha brewers, then consistency of your culture is going to be pretty important. The quality of that culture is everything, and drift can quite easily happen.
The best tea for a healthy culture is a good mix of green and black. Too much black tea and you can overfeed the yeast with nitrogen compounds. A good blend with green keeps both yeast and bacteria in balance.
Kombucha tea: finding the best flavours
However, that balance doesn’t generally deliver the best flavour. It is a bit like mixing colours: if you mix too many you always end up with brown. We favour brewing with very high quality, single garden fine teas which bring out fantastic fruity floral flavours in the final brew. Each one is really distinct and removes the need to secondary flavour with other sweet and spicy additives.
Black teas such as Yunnan, Assam, and Darjeelings produce a rich caramelly booch akin to cider. Green tea kombuchas are fresh and fruity with tones of citrus, while white teas can deliver flavours of vanilla and rose (and we’ve tasted all kinds of wonderful backnotes beyond these, too). Oolongs offer a good balance and make a very fresh kombucha that is light and delicate. My advice is to choose only the best loose leaf tea and experiment widely. We have tested somewhere around 125 brews to hone in on what we like, and we’ve only just begun.
Kombucha tea: hitting the spot
So how to get the best of both worlds? Well, we would always suggest you keep one pot for your culture and another for your brew. That way you can always have the heartiest, most energetic blend of bacteria and yeast, and yet you can brew your favourite flavours of kombucha whenever you like. Every time you do a brew, top up your culture pot with more green and black tea.
Or you could just leave the heavy lifting to us, and buy a case or two of your favourite Real Kombucha here. We don’t mind doing the hard work for you. To be honest, we can’t imagine doing anything else.