In fact, it’s easy and fun to experiment with different flavors of kombucha. It is important, though, to use the right type of ingredients at the right time to be sure that your tea comes out the way you want it to.
Ways to Influence the Flavor of Kombucha
There are three basic ways to flavor your tea:
- Choose a different tea: There are four main recommended true teas you can use to make kombucha: black, green, white, and oolong. Choosing a different tea can change the flavor, as can choosing different combinations of two or more teas.
- Adjust fermentation time: The longer you allow your kombucha to sit and ferment, the less sweet and more acidic it will taste. The recommended range of time is typically 7 to 30 days, so you can see the variations you may be able to create within that range. You can use a straw or non-metal spoon to test it for taste as you go.
- Add other ingredients: This step occurs after you finish brewing the basic kombucha.
What Can I Use to Flavor Kombucha?
Once you’ve had your fill of experimenting with base teas and fermentation time, you may be ready to try your hand at creating other flavors. Be sure to wait until the initial fermentation period is complete and the SCOBY removed before you add anything. Otherwise, the flavoring ingredients may interfere with the fermentation process and ruin your tea.
Here are some of the most popular options you can use.
Fruit (fresh, frozen, puree, juice)
This is one of the easiest and most popular options. You can use any fruit or fruit combinations that you like. If you want a more subtle fruit flavor, cut up some fresh or frozen fruit slices or chunks into your tea. Start with about 10-30 percent fruit and 70-90 percent tea.
If you want a stronger flavor, use fruit purees or fruit juice. Use a 1:4 or 1:3 ratio of juice to kombucha, depending on how much flavor and sweetness you want to add.
If you don’t have any fresh or frozen fruit handy, you can use fruit jams or preserves. Try about a tablespoon or two per 16 oz. bottle.
Herbs (fresh or dried)
When using herbs to flavor your kombucha, avoid old dried herbs that have been sitting in your cupboard for a while, as they may impart a musty smell on your tea. Fresh is usually best. Use sparingly, as the herb flavors can intensify while your kombucha chills in the refrigerator.
Keep in mind that you can blend some fruits and herbs to create fun combinations like blackberry-mint, tangerine-rosemary, and raspberry-ginger.
Herbal or Flavored Tea
Though you want to avoid most herbal and flavored tea when creating your kombucha, once it’s made, you can add these in if you like.
Essential Oils or Extracts
Some brewers use vanilla and/or almond extracts to flavor their tea, while others may prefer lavender, chamomile, or peppermint oil. For flavor extracts, start with about ¼ teaspoon per cup of tea and adjust to taste.
You can create some truly unique kombucha flavors with spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, Chai spice blend, pumpkin spice, and more.
Want some chocolate in your kombucha? You can add some raw cacao powder, or dust in some organic green powder (which often includes healthy antioxidants from chlorophyll and spirulina), maca powder (a South American adaptogen), or whatever sounds good to you.
What if I Want My Kombucha to Be Fizzy?
In addition to flavoring your tea, you can also make it fizzy through a process called second fermentation. We’ll cover this topic more in-depth in a future post, but keep in mind that you can create a deeper and more complex flavor this way as you put the tea through another fermentation period with the flavorings you desire.
The basic process of a second fermentation follows these steps:
- Remove the SCOBY from the original kombucha.
- Add whatever flavorings you like to the tea and mix.
- Bottle the flavored kombucha in one or more airtight bottles leaving a few inches of headspace.
- Leave the tea to ferment for 2-14 days at room temperature. Check the bottles about once a day to release some of the pressure buildup.
- Strain out any solids and rebottle the tea to store.
During this second fermentation, the tea gains a more pronounced flavor and additional carbonation, resulting in a yummy fizzy tea.
There are many ways to flavor your kombucha tea to create a personalized beverage that incorporates your favorite flavors while still maintaining the potential health benefits that kombucha offers. You can experiment with a variety of flavoring methods and combinations to create the perfect kombucha blend.