What is kombucha
Pronounced Kom-boo-cha is ready to drink fermented tea. It tastes refreshingly sweet and sour with a hint of natural effervescence.
The fermentation process is carried out by a live-culture of bacteria and yeasts that coexists together naturally. These microorganisms feed on sweet tea (substrate) to survive and convert its complex nutrients into bioavailable antioxidants, simpler carbohydrates, B-vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, organic acids, trace-minerals and much more. The conversion of sugars into acetic acids and gluconic acids contributes to the tartness and apple-y flavours in kombucha.
The live-culture inoculates the sweet tea with specific strains of bacteria and yeasts (microorganisms) and acidifies the tea to make it safe for consumption. Over the fermentation cycle of several days or even weeks, these microorganism multiply as well as generate new nutrients as a result of biochemical processes that occur fermentation.
The Kombucha microorganism are unique and live in symbiotic harmony with each other. Meaning, the bacteria and yeasts both perform several functions that support their as well as each other’s lifecycle. This interdependency makes kombucha a unique product of fermentation.
A popular name given to kombucha live-culture is SCOBY which is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture/Colony of Bacteria and Yeasts. However, during our research and digging, we figured it was a name given to the by-product of kombucha fermentation which is the jelly-like bacterial cellulose mat (sorry to break it to you).
What is fermentation?
Fermentation in food is a process by which microorganisms metabolises carbohydrates in absence of oxygen and releases alcohols, acids, carbon dioxide et al.
Fermentation can be defined as-
“Microbial action on food to bring out desired transformation in flavour, texture and appearance. Obviously, these transformations will eventually impact nutrition and the shelf-stability of the fermented food.”
Again, kombucha is an outlier in this respect because it involved aerobic (in presence of oxygen) as well as anerobic (in absence of oxygen).