What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a blend of green and black tea that is fermented to create a functional drink loaded with probiotics (good bacteria) and antioxidants. Kombucha drinks offer amazing health benefits like reducing inflammation and supporting digestive health.
How Is Kombucha Made?
The process of making kombucha on a commercial scale starts the same way as if you were making it in your own home. However, large kombucha drink production requires expensive equipment and much more inventory.
Steeping & Fermentation
A blend of green and black tea is steeped for as short as 10 minutes to as long as 30 minutes. Once the tea has finished steeping, the tea bags are removed, and sugar is added and dissolved. Cold water is then added to the mixture to bring down the temperature of the sweet tea before moving on to the next step in the kombucha fermenting process.
Once the sweet tea reaches the desired temperature, the SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria) is added. The SCOBY is responsible for fermenting the tea. It’s what gives the kombucha drink its amazing probiotic properties and fizz! The sweet tea and SCOBY are then set aside in temperature-controlled rooms to ferment for one to two weeks.
While kombucha is fermenting, it’s highly encouraged to oxygenate the SCOBY by stirring it every couple of days or so. This part of the kombucha fermentation process is vital!
Remove the SCOBY
After the fermentation process is complete, the kombucha is tested to ensure the acidity and pH levels are just right. Now, it’s time to remove and dispose of the SCOBY. Some kombucha companies find new uses for the disposed SCOBY by composting, gifting to other kombucha creators, or even making vegetable leather.
Before the kombucha moves on to the next step, it must be tested for quality and pH levels.
Filter & Flavor Kombucha
Next, the kombucha drinks move on to filtering, flavoring, and for some brewers, carbonation. While transferring the kombucha, it’s important to keep the temperatures low. High temperatures will create too much ethanol alcohol making the kombucha unsafe to drink for some of the population.
To flavor the kombucha, you can either use pressed fruit and vegetable juice or include natural flavoring. To explore natural flavor options for your kombucha, reach out to our research and development team!
After flavoring, some brewers will add carbonation to give the kombucha drinks their distinct fizzy element. Other brewers produce non-carbonated kombucha beverages, as they can be enjoyed either way.
Canning and Bottling Kombucha
In the kombucha drinks community, there are a lot of discussions surrounding the benefits of bottling kombucha vs. canning kombucha.
Some beverage specialists use glass bottles when bottling kombucha. Glass bottles are heavy, thereby making the cost of shipping more expensive for kombucha drink manufacturers. But some brewers believe glass bottles are safer for consumers, as the glass materials do not leach into the kombucha.
An alternative kombucha packaging method is canning. Some people believe canning kombucha in aluminum cans affects the quality of the kombucha. Others argue that aluminum cans protect the kombucha beverages against sun exposure, keep the drink air-tight, make the drink travel-friendly, and are easily recyclable.
There are many factors to consider when canning and bottling kombucha. To talk to a beverage consultant today, contact us!