Kombucha is an ancient fermented beverage. Like beer and wine, it has existed for thousands of years. However, the small pile of academic studies on kombucha is dwarfed by a mountain of studies on most other fermented beverages. Because of the recent surge in popularity of kombucha, we have been seeing more studies being done. This is an exciting time to be a kombucha brewer! The findings behind what happens in fermenting kombucha, exactly what substances are produced during fermentation, and how kombucha affects the body are brand spanking new. Bloom strives to be constantly learning more about kombucha and places heavy emphasis on being knowledgeable about our craft. The answers below are based on our research and may change as we learn more. Please ask any questions you have about kombucha, and we will do our best to answer.
Q: What is kombucha? What does it taste like?
A: Kombucha is fermented tea. It’s a delightful tonic beverage that is the result of fermenting sweet tea with live yeast and bacteria cultures. These cultures come from three places; some come from a bit of kombucha we save from each batch (usually known as ‘starter tea’), some living in the cellulose pellicle known as a SCOBY or mother; and some wild microbes from the air. Bloom Ferments uses high quality organic and fair-trade ingredients and filtered water to make our kombucha. What you taste is a blend of carefully steeped teas and herbs, sweetness from minimally processed sugar, plus effervescence and a slightly tart, vinegar-like tanginess from the fermentation process.
Q: I’ve had kombucha in the past and didn’t like how it tasted or made me feel. Why should I try Bloom Ferments kombucha?
A: If you have had kombucha in the past and didn’t like it, you’ll probably like Bloom’s brand which is much more mild in flavor. It doesn’t taste nearly as tart as other brands of kombucha you may have tried. This is due to a carefully determined fermentation time with the SCOBY and secondary bottle ferment. Despite the mild taste, it’s still blooming with healthy microbes! Bloom kombucha packs the same probiotic punch as other kombucha without the strong sour taste.
If you’ve never had it, we recommend drinking 4 oz. of kombucha and waiting to see how your body responds to it. Some bodies take time to adjust to a regular intake of healthy microbes. Drinking kombucha, even a few ounces a day, can have a positive effect on your health. If you’ve had kombucha before and didn’t like how it made you feel, there’s a good chance that you could really benefit from it.
Q: What is a SCOBY, aka 'mother'? What is it made out of?
A: SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. The term ‘SCOBY’ is actually a misnomer! What floats on top of a batch of kombucha is not a living organism itself, but is cellulose produced by living organisms. Specifically, it’s produced by species of bacteria called xylinus or xylinum. Living within the strands of cellulose are multiple strains of bacteria and yeast which live together symbiotically. This means that they live together in such a way that they are able to grow and reproduce well. These yeast and bacteria are what ferments tea into kombucha. We recommend this interesting video of bacteria in the process of making cellulose.
Q: What are probiotics?
A: Probiotics are living organisms such as bacteria or yeast that are beneficial to good health. It is generally believed that consuming probiotic foods or supplements will improve health and well-being. Voluntarily consuming bacteria may seem strange, but once you consider the fact that human bodies are made up of more microbial cells than human cells, you can see taking care of our microbial populations is so important! We LOVE this video NPR produced in November of 2013 showing us why microbes are so important for our health.
Q: Is there caffeine in kombucha?
A: Yes. However, Bloom kombucha has less caffeine per serving than an average cup of tea. Typically, one teaspoon of loose leaf tea is steeped in 8 oz. of water to make a cup of tea. Our recipe uses a higher water to tea ratio while still preserving each of our tea’s distinct flavors in the finished bottle of kombucha. The caffeine’s effect on the body is much less noticeable than other caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee, or soda.
Q: Is Bloom kombucha unpasteurized?
A: Yes. We believe in keeping the product fresh and raw to maximize its overall effectiveness. Heating the kombucha after fermentation kills the beneficial probiotics that are naturally present in kombucha. Keeping bottles of kombucha cold helps preserve the health of microbial colonies in kombucha, so please keep them below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Sip confidently knowing our kombucha is very much alive.
Q: Which strains of yeast and bacteria can be found in Bloom Ferments kombucha?
A: We believe that strains of yeast and bacteria may change slightly from batch to batch. Bloom Ferments has not yet tested our kombucha to find out which specific strains of yeast and bacteria it contains. This is a test we plan to carry out, and when we receive the results, we will post them on the website as well as on our bottle labels. In the meantime, here is an excerpt on common beneficial bacteria and yeast found in kombucha from the Cultures for Health website. We have edited it a bit. For the original excerpt, visit their website here.
Acetobacter: This is an aerobic bacteria strain (aerobic microbes require oxygen to survive) that produces acetic acid (vinegar) and gluconic acid. It is always found in kombucha. Acetobacter strains also build the SCOBY.
Saccharomyces: This includes a number of yeast strains that produce alcohol, and are the most common types of yeast found in kombucha. They can be aerobic or anaerobic (anaerobic microbes require an oxygen-free environment to survive). They may include Saccharomycodes ludwigii, Saccharomycodes apiculatus, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Zygosaccharomyes, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Brettanomyces: This is another type of yeast strain, either aerobic or anaerobic, that are commonly found in kombucha and produce alcohol or acetic acid.
Lactobacillus: This is a type of aerobic bacteria that is sometimes, but not always, found in kombucha. It produces lactic acid. Lactic acid is very important for proper digestive functioning. Sandor Katz, a well known expert on all things fermented, proclaims, “the lactic acid in [fermented foods] can help to replenish and diversify the populations in our gut, which due to a large number of factors in our contemporary lives - including antibiotic drugs, antibacterial cleansing products, chlorine in water - are subjected to more or less constant attack.”
Gluconacetobacter xylinus is an anaerobic bacteria that is unique to kombucha. It produces the cellulose that the SCOBY is made out of and feeds on nitrogen that is found in tea. G. xylinus ferments the alcohols produced by yeast(s) into acetic acid. This increases the acidity of kombucha while limiting its alcoholic content. Important and fascinating!
Q: What are the health benefits of drinking kombucha?
A: Kombucha has probiotics, B-vitamins, enzymes, and alkalizing acids. While kombucha has been touted to heal everything from stomach aches to cancer, we believe the fundamental benefits reside in your gut health. Some of the associated health benefits include better digestion, increased energy, and a stronger immune system. Kombucha contains probiotics, B-vitamins, enzymes and alkalinizing acids. While kombucha has been touted to heal everything from stomach aches to cancer, we believe the fundamental benefits reside in your gut health. With a stronger immune system, your body has more power to fight the common cold and a multitude of other diseases. We are constantly researching kombucha and other fermented beverages to learn more about the health benefits.
Many people think of kombucha as a mystical health drink, a miracle beverage having roots in Ancient China. We approach it as people who are interested in the way fermenting alters foods. Fermenting is one of the oldest forms of preserving foods. Fermenting also alters foods, often adding health benefits while preserving the food. In the case of kombucha, we start with sweetened tea and end with a bubbly, slightly sweet, acidic, and tangy beverage that contains live bacteria and yeast. Kombucha is an example of an acidic substance that, when digested, helps the body become more alkaline.
Kombucha is known as a probiotic drink. Probiotics are helpful because of their ability to stimulate the growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties (such as those of the intestinal flora). We carefully construct recipes and flavors that we find particularly delicious and beneficial. Our precise methods ensure that you are getting a reliable product that is not only delicious but also teeming with helpful bacteria and plenty of vitamins to keep you feeling good.
The benefits of kombucha don’t stop there. By fermenting other ingredients and flavorings that are healthy and curative in their own right, we create a unique blending of flavors with powerful nutrients and healing potential. We brew our kombucha using only organic ingredients from companies we trust.
Q: What is the alcohol content in kombucha? Is it safe for me and my family to drink?
A: The legal limit for a beverage to be considered ‘non-alcoholic’ is 0.5%. Many juices - orange juice and apple juice for example - contain trace amounts of alcohol. This is a natural process that takes place any time live yeasts have starches to eat. Yeast is everywhere. Bloom Ferments kombucha does not exceed this amount. Our batches contain anywhere from 0% alcohol to 0.5%. We test each and every batch of kombucha in-house and also regularly submit samples to a local lab. You can rest easy knowing that our kombucha is safe for you and your family.
Q: What are the strands and sediment in the bottle?
A: Those strands of cellulose and sediment are a normal by-product of this healthy fermentation and form after the kombucha has been bottled. Sediment at the bottom of the bottle is made of yeast. Strands or other floaters in the bottle may be made up of a combination of cellulose (produced by the bacteria in kombucha) and yeast sediment. These are completely safe to consume. Drink them or dispose of them, it’s up to you; either way, these are a good sign that you just bought a healthy, living beverage.
Q: Why does Bloom kombucha taste sweeter than other brands of kombucha?
A. At Bloom we believe we have found a balance between the potential sweet and sour notes possible in kombucha fermentation and tasting. Our kombucha ferments quickly: the initial ferment with the mother is 12-14 days. A shorter ferment results in a sweeter end product. Our goal as a company is to make a product that appeals to everybody because we want everyone to be drinking kombucha as often as possible. Whether you’re:
- 5 years old and like sweet bubbly drinks
- a sober person avoiding alcohol completely
- are new to kombucha and are still warming up to this sort of fermented beverage
- an avid, life-long kombucha lover who prefers a tart flavor
...we want you to love kombucha! Our desire is to make a beverage that was not just probiotic-rich but also delicious, crisp and refreshing. We hope you agree!
Q: What are the nutrition facts for Bloom kombucha?
A: Please check back soon for our nutrition facts. Legally, we aren’t required to do this test until we’re selling more than 100,000 bottles per year, but we know that many kombucha drinkers are health conscious and want to know what they’re drinking. We believe transparency with the customer is very important and part of that belief is disclosing the nutrition facts. This is another test that we intend on carrying out in the near future!
Q: Is kombucha safe for pregnant/nursing women to drink?
A: We recommend asking your doctor about this one. We’ve read studies that show it is safe for pregnant/nursing women, and studies that show it isn’t safe. Generally, the studies agreed that if you’ve already drinking kombucha for quite a while before becoming pregnant, then you can continue drinking it.
Q: Are there any possible allergens in kombucha?
A: Although our kombucha is currently made in a facility where allergens such as wheat and dairy are handled, the product itself is prepared without the use of animal products, wheat, tree nuts or any other common allergens.
Q: Can my return my bottles?
A: Yes! We strongly encourage that you do. We are able to collect all returned bottles and give them a second life. Please return label-free, rinsed bottles with their caps still on to Relish, Bartertown, Lantern Coffee, YMCA Veggie Van, Funky Buddha, Elder & Sage, Global Infusion, or Muskegon Yoga. We take your returned bottles, sterilize them inside and out, and replace the caps and labels. Recycling and composting are important to us. We compost loose leaf teas and herbs after they have been steeped, and recycle tea bags and other packaging whenever possible. The impact that recycling can make on the earth is huge and every effort to re-use can make a difference.
Q: Can I make my own kombucha at home?
A: Yes! Making kombucha at home can be a fun and exhilarating project. If this is something that interests you and you would like to start a kombucha project at home, contact Bloom for your very own starter kit. Our starter kits include a large one gallon glass jar for fermentation, cloth cover for the jar, starter tea, a healthy SCOBY, and step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process. With some care and effort anyone can make their own kombucha.
Q: How can I buy a larger quantity of kombucha from Bloom? Do you cater events?
A: If you want to purchase a large quantity of kombucha for your restaurant or business, or you are interested in having Bloom at your catered event please feel free to direct your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have 5 gallon pin-lock Cornelius kegs of both flavors of kombucha on hand at all times, but giving us a month’s notice will make sure we will have enough kegs for your event.