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The Best Tea For Kombucha

Which teas should you use for making homemade kombucha? And which teas should you avoid? Breaking down the best tea for kombucha here!

Homemade kombucha basically has just four ingredients: tea, water, sugar, and starter kombucha. This means it’s vital that you use good quality, proper ingredients when starting your fermentation.

So in addition to making sure that the tap water in your area is good for kombucha and that you’re using the right sugar, make sure you’re using a tea that your kombucha and SCOBY will thrive on!

What is tea?

With tea easily being the most popular drink in the world, there are thousands of varieties and they all seem to boil down to a common trait – plants soaked in hot water.

When people are talking about tea, however, they’re usually talking about the tea plant known as camellia sinensis. This is the plant that gives us black, green, white, and oolong tea.

This popular tea also happens to be the tea that your kombucha SCOBY loves! While sugar provides energy for the yeast to eat, the tea provides minerals that the bacteria and yeast need (more on how a SCOBY works here). Ensuring you use the correct tea for your kombucha will create a healthy SCOBY that will continue churning out batches for years to come.

Black tea bags on a white background

Best tea for making kombucha

Black Tea: Tea leaves that have been oxidized for a long time (longer than green or oolong teas), creating a strong flavor. Common types of black tea that work well in kombucha include Ceylon and English Breakfast (avoid Earl Grey, see “tea to avoid” below). When growing a SCOBY, only use black tea. Once your SCOBY has been through 4 or 5 batches, you can begin introducing other teas.

Green Tea: Tea leaves that have been minimally oxidized, creating a mild earthy flavor. Use green tea in combination with another tea or on its own.

Oolong Tea: Tea leaves that have been partially oxidized (more than green tea but less than black tea), creating a mild grassy to fruity flavor. Use oolong tea in combination with another tea or on its own.

White Tea: While black, green, and oolong teas are made from mature tea leaves, white tea is made from the young leaves and is minimally oxidized. This creates a delicate flavor and light color. Use white tea in combination with black, green, or oolong tea (at least 25% of mature tea leaves)

Some Herbal Teas: “Herbal tea” is a catch-all term that includes any tea not made from tea plant leaves. Herbal teas can be made from herbs, spices, or plants. While most herbal teas are not suitable for fermentation, there are a few that are suited for kombucha:

  • Rooibos Tea: Made from the leaves of a South African shrub, this is a different species of tea, giving an earthy flavor to kombucha. Use rooibus tea in combination with black tea (at least 25% black tea).
  • Hibiscus Tea: Made from the dried flowers of the hibiscus plant, this bright pink kombucha has a tart, floral flavor. Use hibiscus tea in combination with another tea or on its own.

Tea to avoid when making kombucha

Most Herbal Teas: Most herbal teas are not suitable for brewing kombucha, as they don’t have the nutrients needed for your fermentation to thrive.

Tea with added flavor: Many teas contain not only tea leaves, but the addition of spices or oils. Avoid tea that has anything added, as it can react with the kombucha and cause your fermentation to go bad. Examples of tea with added ingredients include:

  • Earl Grey: Avoid this black tea variety, which has added bergamot oil.
  • Chai: Avoid this black tea variety, which has added spices.

Can you use Loose leaf?

You can use loose leaf tea to make kombucha! For every 4 bags of tea used in the kombucha recipe, substitute 1 Tbsp of loose leaf tea.

6 thoughts on “The Best Tea For Kombucha”

    • Good question! There are a few ways to reduce the caffeine:

      1. Let the fermentation run longer, allowing more time for the caffeine to be consumed by the SCOBY.

      2. Use lower caffeinated teas, like rooibos, hibiscus, white, or green. For SCOBY health, we still recommend throwing a bag or two of black tea in.

      3. Let caffeinated tea bags steep in boiling water for 30 seconds. This will pull out most of the caffeine, and you can then use the tea bags to make your kombucha.

      Reply
  1. Tea leaf is produced by fermenting the young green tips, In much the same way as tobacco and hops are fermented to produce their wonderful smells and flavours.
    Tea Bags started off as a way of selling the ‘fines’, the dusty fractions produced during handling. Being made exclusively from those small particles, which had been rubbed off the leaf, they lacked many of the complex flavours and nutrients contained in the more structural parts of the plant material. So ‘Tea Bags’ were considered ‘inferior’.
    However, marketers realised they could be made more popular if the contents contained more of the leaf; so they crushed the whole tips, which made a better cuppa.
    Because the particles are small, they have a larger surface area than normal leaf tea, meaning they need less ‘brewing time’ than leaf tea.
    Marketers also realised that they could sell a lot more product – because it would take more leaf per cup than brewing for four minutes in a teapot.

    However, there was still some market resistance, because people in a hurry for a ‘cuppa’ got impatient. Having to dangle the bag on a thread until they saw their desired ‘strength’ in their mug was an inconvenience, a waste of time.
    The industry’s solution was to treat the finely crushed leaf with a solution of Condy’s Crystals (Potassium Permanganate). Anybody who has ever handled this purple disinfectant will know that it turns your skin brown. This was precisely why it was used on the tea – it provides ‘instant’ colour to the tea. So people were fooled into thinking they had strong tea when actually, they were tossing all the tasty tannins into the rubbish bin, still in the tea-bag.

    When making Kombucha, I prefer to put both the sugar and “Leaf Tea” (not bags!) into the cold water before it is boiled.
    This ensures that all the ingredients are sterilised
    It also ensures maximum opportunity for extraction of the ‘microbe nutrients’ from the tea.

    Reply

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