Kombucha is one of the most popular fermented drinks out there. Not only because of the wonderful nutritional value and unique taste; but also for its delicious and exotic flavors. You can flavor kombucha with a variety of combinations and it will taste great.
Kombucha is flavored mostly with fruits, which is an easy & tasty way to begin the flavoring process. Pick your favorite fruits, cut them into pieces, & put them into the bottle to ferment with the kombucha. Then seal the bottle & put it in a dark place for about 2-4 days.
At the end of this basic process, your favorite fruit-flavored fizzy kombucha is ready to drink! In this article, I’ll give you some tips to make the best kombucha flavors. These instructions will elevate your â€˜kombucha masteryâ€™ to the next skill level.
NOTE: Check out my post with 9 great kombucha flavor recipes for more ideas!
How to Flavor Kombucha
Kombucha is like a playground. You can go crazy with your play styles – but of course, within some boundaries!
Adding flavors to kombucha is called second fermentation. This process is undertaken after kombucha is made i.e. ‘the first ferment’. I’ve got more information on how to do that in this article. Once it’s made, your kombucha is ready for adding your favorite flavors. Donâ€™t worry, this is a simple and quick step that’s explained in detail below…
Once your kombucha brew is fermented and ready for the second fermentation process; let’s talk about flavors and how to add them:
Step # 1: Choose Your Fruit
Choosing your desired flavor is the key here.
Popular fruits and herbs used to flavor kombucha:
You can choose any single fruit or go for blends of flavors. For more complex flavoring, kombucha enthusiasts use a mix of fruits or flavors. Mixing multiple flavors isn’t difficult and they are popular for good reason!
Delicious flavor mixes to try:
- blackberry vanilla
- spiced apple
- lemon ginger
PRO TIP: Simple flavor mixes like lemon ginger, or blueberry cinnamon are great for beginners to start with!
Step # 2: Add Flavors to the Kombucha
Fruits can be added to kombucha in two ways.
- Adding chopped-up pieces of fruits
- Adding fruit extracts
You can use frozen, dried, or fresh garden-picked fruits. Using fresh fruits is highly recommended as they will give you the best flavors.
|Fruit pieces||1:9 up to 3:7|
|Fruit extracts||1:9 up to 2:8|
NOTE: If you are using fruit juice, I suggest using fresh fruits to make the juice at home. Avoid buying packaged fruit juice from stores as they contain artificial flavor and preservatives that could interrupt the fermentation process.
Put the fruits first in the bottle, then pour kombucha leaving an inch or two of headspace. This space is required to accumulate dissolved carbon dioxide. Otherwise, the bottle might explode!
Step #3: Second Fermentation
The second fermentation is when the whole â€˜flavoring up kombuchaâ€™ scheme comes together! After mixing the fruits with the kombucha, you can store them in your refrigerator or cooler for later consumption, or let them continue to ferment. That is why it’s called second fermentation.
First, you ferment tea with a SCOBY to make kombucha. Second, you ferment the kombucha all over again. To do that, store the bottles in a dark room at room temperature. Make sure the bottles are airtight. The second fermentation is when the kombucha gets fizzy.
Step #4: Sieve to Separate the Solids
Use a fine steel mesh strainer (I like this set from Amazon) to separate the kombucha from the solid fruits. Repeat the process 2-3 times to make sure that no solids remain. Then put the liquid back into the bottles and store them in a cool place.
Step #5: Tweaking the Flavors
You can tweak the flavorings if you wish. Know that the flavor quality depends on three things:
- Tea Type: Kombucha is all about flavors. The stronger the flavor, the better. Usually, tea leaves that have been oxidized for longer give stronger flavors. Black tea is more oxidized than any other tea, so try using those. You can also use green tea, oolong tea, or white tea.
- Length of Fermentation: The key to getting a strong unique kombucha flavor lies within fermentation time. If you want a strong and fizzy flavor, ferment it longer. The more you ferment, the more the sugar is converted to vinegar which gives the sour, tangy flavor while also acting as a preservative. (For more detail on how long to ferment for, check out my article here).
- Other Flavors: Try mixing two or three flavors together. Make your own flavor by mixing spices, fruits, and herbs together. See what works and what doesn’t. Who knows, maybe you might come up with the best kombucha flavor of all time!
TIP: You can add other herbs, spices, or other fruits to lift the flavor even more. Ginger goes well with most kombucha flavors. Also, you can add a few drops of lemon juice to give the kombucha a nice twist!
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Flavoring Kombucha
No matter how careful or meticulous you are, some common mishaps are bound to occur from time to time. Fermentation is a lengthy process that requires patience and diligence. Some mistakes might take place due to oversight or miscalculation. It happens!
Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
- Using Plastic Bottles: Plastic bottles are cheap and are taking over the world. We all know the downsides but can’t resist the urge to cut down some costs. Well, in this case, if you want the best out of your kombucha flavorings, you must stick to high-quality glass bottles (like these bottles from Amazon for example). Plastic bottles can develop an unpleasant ‘plasticky’ taste and smell in the Kombucha, which will ruin the flavor.
- Low-Quality SCOBY: Although this isn’t directly impacting the flavoring process, it sure has some indirect results. In short, SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is what ferments the tea to make kombucha. So, it’s obvious that its quality will have a long-lasting effect. Be sure to use top-quality tea, preferably black.
- Not Maintaining the Right Temperature: When storing the kombucha after the second fermentation, make sure it’s at room temperature, which is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). If the ambient temperature of the area you are in is higher or lower than that, try using an air conditioner or room heater to balance.
NOTE: Too-cold temperatures will inhibit the fermentation process, while a too-high temperature will impair the SCOBY’s function.
- Using Under-Ripe Fruits: Do not use under-ripe fruits, period. That’s the easiest way to put it. Unripe fruits lack flavor, so the flavors cannot ooze out of their surface. Using ripe fruits will give you the best flavors. Use overripe fruits if you can because the more ripe a fruit is, the more acid it produces, and acid is what we need to fire up strong kombucha flavorings.
- Too Many Flavors: Too many cooks spoil the broth, and too many flavors spoil the kombucha. Mixing multiple flavors can work well when flavoring kombucha, but don’t overstretch it. Try having two or three similar flavors altogether, or flavors that go well. Talk to kombucha experts, or consult the online community. Do not break it by the thing that was supposed to make it!
- Using Less Sugar: Sugar plays a pivotal role in kombucha flavoring. In fact, it single-handedly determines the flavoring. Bacteria and yeast ferment sugar to produce pyruvate, and in turn carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is then dissolved into the water content of the tea and produces carbonic acid. This acid is what gives us a sparkling taste!
QUICK TIP: Don’t use honey instead of sugar. When it comes to sugar, use lots of it. More sugar means more carbonation and a fizzier taste! And remember, a lot of this sugar will have been used up by the fermentation process, so you aren’t consuming as much as you have put in.
How to Properly Consume Kombucha
Kombucha is considered a health drink despite having unparalleled amazing flavors. Being methodical in your consumption of kombucha can bring the best results.
Here’s what I recommend:
The Right Amount
Donâ€™t go around drinking kombucha in the same amounts as you would water. Even overconsumption of water can harm your body. When drinking for the first time, take a small sip or two to get used to the flavor. They are full of healthy bacteria and probiotics, so the impact on your stomach will be noticeable. I recommend 1/2 cup per serving for the first few days.
First Thing in the Morning
Kombucha can easily replace morning tea or coffee. It contains just the right amount of caffeine to kickstart your day. Also, the probiotics will help in digestion throughout the day and give your gut a happy feeling.
After a Big Meal
If you feel slightly bloated after a heavy meal, kombucha can be your rescuer! Having kombucha after a big meal will set your stomach straight and help diminish the bloated and uneasy feeling.
With the Right Food
Kombucha goes really well with various kinds of foods. You can try similar flavors of food and kombucha, or go for total opposites. Regardless of what flavor you choose, I can assure you that you’ll like it. You can try fruit-flavored Kombucha with sandwiches or salads; that’s a combination I like!
TIP: If you have a recipe with cheddar cheese in it, like pizza or a burger; try flavors like pomegranate or blueberry, it compliments well!
Tips & Tricks for Top-Notch Sparkling Kombucha
Despite doing everything right, your kombucha might turn out slightly less fizzy, or the sourness is a bit too much. Sometimes, things might not add up the way you expected them to.
Here are some pro tips for guaranteed superior quality sparkling kombucha:
- Use Fresh Fruits: Always use fresh fruits. Either bought from stores or hand-picked from the garden. Fresh fruits are packed with flavors. They’ll yield the best results when flavoring kombucha. Frozen or dried fruits are good too, but fresh fruits are best. They may be slightly more expensive or harder to find, but that little extra effort is totally worth it.
- Ferment for a Long Period: if you want more fizz, ferment for a longer period of time. The kombucha is already crammed with bacteria and yeast from the SCOBY, so all it needs is the sugars to be fermented. Ferment for at least 3 to 4 days for strong, sour, and fizzy flavors that kombucha is loved for!
- Use a Swing-top Bottle: Swing-top bottles are specially made bottles for carbonated drinks. It can hold the carbonation even after being opened, unlike traditional soda bottles. As you’re not going to drink all of it at once, using a swing-top bottle is a must to preserve the carbonation. (Here’s an example of a swing top bottle on Amazon).
- Use Fruit Puree: If you’re using fruits instead of fruit juice, try using fruit puree since they easily extract flavors. They give the probiotics a boost to ferment faster and produce more carbonation.
- Donâ€™t Hate the SCOBY: When making kombucha for flavoring, do not take out the SCOBY too soon. Even after the process is done, let it float on the tea for as long as you can. It appears slimy, gooey, and doesn’t exactly look appealing. But the SCOBY is playing the most crucial role here! The more time it is in the tea, the more fermentation there will be for making an amazing tasting, bubbly brew!
NOTE: Swing-top bottles are also known as flip-top bottles, so whichever you choose should work, as long as it is air-tight.
The only expertise you need when flavoring kombucha is knowing the flavors you love. Just remember; the more fruits, the more flavors. Other than fruits, you can use various herbs and spices separately, or in a mix to add some tang to kombucha. There isn’t any hard and fast recipe to follow. You can go wild with the flavors of whatever you’re craving.
Start with the flavors above as they are the most widely used ones, then make them your own as you learn. I’ve also got this article with 9 popular flavor combinations if you’re after some ideas. This guide, with everything Iâ€™ve included; should be your gateway to delicious homemade kombucha flavors.
Interested in more fermenting recipes and tips? Start here:
- Water Kefir Guide
- How to Ferment Cabbage
- Can You Mix Different Kefir Grains?
- 10 Ways to Ferment Food Faster
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