Kombucha and tea: the best and worst
Why is tea important when making Kombucha at home?
Brewing your own kombucha can be an exciting start in your journey towards a healthier gut. As you get more familiar with the brewing process, you might wonder, “What’s with all the different kinds of tea?” There are so many different kinds and types of tea and picking the right kind can be very confusing for even experienced kombucha brewers. This guide will help you separate the best quality tea for kombucha from the ones to avoid at all costs.
What is Tea?
Tea is the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. It has been consumed around the world for more than a thousand years. Tea has numerous benefits such as:
- Contains antioxidants to boost the immune system
- Increases metabolism
- Aids in digestion
- Alleviates headaches
- And more!
Loose Leaf Tea vs. Tea Bag/Powder?
Have you ever wondered what is really in your tea? Choosing quality tea is essential to perfecting delicious, healthy kombucha. Tea bags are commonly used around the world for their convenience and accessibility. However, the tea powder in tea bags is often times the dust found at the bottom of a tea barrel. It is the lowest quality dregs after all the quality tea leaves are packed away. Also, tea bags may have pesticides that will harm your SCOBY. On the other hand, organic loose leaf teas have low or no pesticides. Loose leaf tea has more flavor and depth than many of the tea bags. It might be a bit more expensive, but you will definitely notice the difference in taste and in your gut.
What Kind Of Tea Should We Use?
Kombucha has numerous restoring properties because the tea that is used is already so healing! Once your SCOBY has grown to a healthy size, you can experiment with different types of teas.
1. Black Tea
- Black tea is an excellent choice to begin your fermentation. This tea is fully oxidized before they are dried which causes a black color. Black tea has the nutrients that the SCOBY needs and is packed with plentiful health benefits. Black tea has been known to boost metabolism and lower the risk of diabetes and high cholesterol.
2. White Tea
- White tea is one of the most delicate tea varieties. The buds are harvested while they are still covered with fine white hair. The young leaves are handpicked, quickly dried and packed to reduce oxidation. White tea has a subtle flavor and is rich in antioxidants. It helps reduce free radicals and protects skins from damage caused by UV rays.
3. Green Tea
- Green tea differs from black tea mostly in how it is processed. Black tea is oxidized to a higher degree while green tea mainly bypasses oxidation. Brewed green tea is popular among health conscious people as it naturally lowers LDL cholesterol and helps boost immunity. Green tea tastes best when you brew it for a short period and the SCOBY thrives off of it.
4. Oolong Tea
- Oolong tea sits between green and black teas, as it is semi-oxidized. It has the depth and complexity of black tea, but also the freshness and rejuvenation of green tea. Perfect choice for tea connoisseurs!
5. Herbal Infusions
- Apart from these tea options, you can also make tea from herbal infusions (ie. rosehips hibiscus, licorice root, chrysanthemum). In order to do that, make sure to add a little bit of black tea into the mix to ensure the SCOBY is receiving all of its nutrients. After a cycle of herbal tea kombucha, always set up one or two batches of black tea to make sure your SCOBY is in good health.
Teas You Should Avoid
- Some teas are flavored with essential oils that may harm the culture. It is best to avoid using such teas as the main ingredient.
- As previously mentioned, herbal infusions can be used as long as it is paired with black tea. Since herbal tea does not contain Camellia sinensis, and thus is not actually tea, the culture’s growth can be harmed. The antibacterial effect of herbal tea might even kill your good bacteria, so use caution while experimenting with such plants, flowers, and roots.