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What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is an effervescent tangy soda-like beverage made from a Symbiotic Culture of beneficial Bacteria and Yeast (aka SCOBY) through the acid-fermetation of sweet tea. Kombucha contains acetic acid, gluconic acid, glucoronic acid, antioxidants, and microamounts of vitamin B’s, C, and Folic Acid. 

Benefits kombucha can have (similar to other fermented products like kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt):

-Promotes digestion

-Regulate gastrointestinal health

-Detoxification properties

-Immune system aid


The following info is sourced from KBI's draft kombucha spec sheet:
Antimicrobial Properties of Kombucha

Kombucha is naturally antimicrobial. It’s low pH and mix of organic acids have been shown to kill known pathogens on contact.

The antimicrobial activity of Kombucha was investigated against a number of pathogenic microorganisms. According to the literature on Kombucha, acetic acid is considered to    be responsible for the inhibitory effect toward a number of microbes tested, and this is also valid in the present study. However, in this study, Kombucha proved to exert antimicrobial activities against E. coli, Sh. sonnei, Sal. typhimurium, Sal. enteritidis, and Cm. jejuni, even at neutral pH and after thermal denaturation. This finding suggests the presence of antimicrobial compounds other than acetic acid and large proteins in Kombucha. 2, 3, 4

Pathogens Sensitive to Kombucha

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Shigella sonnei
  • Escherichia coli
  • Aeromonashydrophila
  • Yersinia enterolitica
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Enterobactercloacae
  • Staphylococcus epidermis
  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Salmonella enteritidis
  • Salmonella typhimurium
  • Bacillus cereus
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Helicobacter pylori


Advanced Explanation:

Kombucha is a fizzy tangy fermented tea beverage with energizing, detox and digestion benefits. To understand kombucha on a deeper level, it’s important to understand fermentation, the oldest biological process in the universe.

Just like humans break down food into energy, fermentation is a fancy word for microorganisms breaking down food into energy, in this case the microorganism is a kombucha culture. Different source of energy given to this cultured food determines the style of kombucha produced, which is affected by the types of teas, sugars, and environments it is grown in. Therefore, no two kombuchas are perfectly alike don’t give up on all kombucha if you had a bad experience with one.

Yogurt, a common fermented food, is made by adding beneficial bacteria to milk, which start eating and converting milk sugars, called lactose, into lactic acid. These unique cultures are what convert the milk into the final creamy tart milk pudding known as yogurt, which is what differentiates yogurt from milk.

Much like what makes milk into yogurt, kombucha is a living mix of beneficial bacteria and yeast which break down its two essential energy sources, sugar and tea, into:


-Acetic acid

-Gluconic acid


...that create kombucha’s unique sour flavor and carbonation. Without these essential living kombucha cultures in the tea, it’s just sour sweet tea.

Whenever kombucha is added to sweet tea, kombucha continues the breakdown process until all the sweet tea is converted into kombucha. The resulting kombucha can be added to new sweet tea to repeat the process.

The final product is a drinkable sweet-tart beverage that, like tea, is usually an acquired taste loved by hippies, millennials, health-conscious soccer moms and hated by pretty much everyone else. The only way to know if you like it is to try it!

Note: Although the yeast present in kombucha do produce alcohol and can become alcoholic with extensive brewing times (3=6+ months), it is generally not an alcoholic beverage as that alcohol is converted into acids by kombucha cultures as an energy source, limiting the alcohol content.


Disclaimer: This info is for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kombucha is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am a brewer, not a healthcare professional, do not take this as medical advice.

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