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.
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.
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.
- Butterfly Pea Flowers: Made from the dried flowers of the butterfly pea plant, this bright blue/purple kombucha has a floral, slightly earthy flavor. Use butterfly pea flower 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.