Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Unflavored Kombucha

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Unflavored kombucha is ideal for growing a SCOBY, using it as a starter tea, or drinking. It has many health benefits and is naturally gluten-free. The flavor is simpler than you might be used to, but it is a versatile beverage with many benefits. 

What Is Unflavored Kombucha?

Unflavored kombucha is traditional or raw kombucha. It’s kombucha that doesn’t have any flavoring added. Kombucha tea is available in many fruit or herb flavors, but most brands also sell unflavored, plain kombucha. Unflavored kombucha is still full of probiotics, B vitamins, and carbonation.

Unflavored kombucha goes through the same fermentation process as flavored kombucha. A SCOBY is added to sweet tea and left to undergo the first fermentation at room temperature for a week or so. Then, the liquid is bottled and left at room temperature to ferment a second time for a few days until it gets fizzy.

Fruit and other flavorings are added to flavored kombucha during the second fermentation.

Is It Okay to Drink Raw Kombucha?

Yes, it is okay to drink raw kombucha. Most store-bought kombucha is raw, including Health-Ade and Synergy kombucha. Raw means that the kombucha has not been pasteurized.

Raw kombucha contains all the good bacteria that result from the brewing process. People drink kombucha for these good bacteria and probiotics that promote gut health and a strong immune system.

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Synergy unpasteurized kombucha

Pregnant or nursing women and those with compromised immune systems may want to check with their doctor before consuming raw, unpasteurized products.

Does Unflavored Kombucha Taste Good?

Unflavored kombucha is a fermented tea that is tart, slightly sweet, and fizzy. Though it is made from black or green tea, the finished product doesn’t taste like tea. Unflavored kombucha has a complex taste; some compare it to sparkling apple cider, but it is less sweet.

Kombucha has a strong flavor, so try just a bit at first. The more you drink it, the more you’ll appreciate the tangy taste.

Raw vs. Pasteurized Kombucha

Many brands sell raw kombucha, though some companies choose to pasteurize their kombucha.

Raw KombuchaPasteurized Kombucha
Takes many months from the first ferment until it reaches the store shelfPasteurization speeds up the fermentation process, making it cheaper and quicker to make
Best consumed within six months of bottlingLasts longer than six months
Needs to be refrigeratedDoes not need to be refrigerated
Contains healthy enzymes, acids, and antioxidantsDoes not contain live cultures and probiotics

Do You Need to Use Unflavored Kombucha to Make a Scoby?

Home brewers must use unflavored kombucha to make their own SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Flavored kombucha can mold before it creates a SOCBY or create a weak SCOBY that will not correctly ferment the tea.

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A SCOBY growing in raw, unflavored kombucha

Leave two cups of raw, unflavored kombucha at room temperature for four to six weeks to make a kombucha SCOBY. Once a baby SCOBY forms, let it get about a half-inch thick before using it to brew kombucha. You can also purchase dehydrated SCOBYs or live kombucha cultures online.

Can You Use Store-Bought Kombucha as a Starter?

Yes, you can use store-bought kombucha as a starter tea.

Unflavored, raw kombucha can grow a SCOBY or provide the starter tea for your first batch of homemade kombucha. If you are brewing for the first time, you can use store-bought unflavored kombucha as a starter with your sweet tea and SCOBY. Choose raw USDA organic kombucha as your starter so your tea has the cleanest ingredients.

Sarah Pearce

Sarah first tried kombucha in 2015 and she was hooked. Her favorite flavor is ginger, but cranberry comes in a close second. She made her own for many years and loved experimenting with fruit flavors.

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