Glossary of Kombucha Brewing Terms

This glossary has many of the terms most commonly encountered in kombucha brewing. Expand your vocabulary and use the same beer brewing terminology as professional kombucha brewers.

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Just click a letter to see kombucha brewing terms that start with that letter.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

A-B-C

Alcohol by Volume
ABV. A worldwde standard measure of the volume of ethyl alcohol (ethanol) contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage expressed as percent of total volume. Chemically, ABV is defined as the number of millilitres of pure ethanol present in 100 ml of solution at 20°C. The number of millilitres of pure ethanol is the mass of the ethanol divided by its density at 20°C, which is 0.79 g/ml. In English units this is the number of fl oz. of pure ethanol present in 3.5 fl oz of solution at 68°F. The number of fl. oz. of pure ethanol is the mass of the ethanol divided by its density at 68°F, which is 0.46 oz/cu in.  Abbreviated as “ABV”, “abv”, or “alc/vol”. Homebrew kombucha is usually between 0.2% and 1.5% alcohol by volume. Most commercial kombucha is less than 0.5% ABV
Acetic Acid
Acetic acid, also called “ethanoic acid”, is a commonly used chemical reagent and food additive. In food products acetic acid is produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeast. It gives vinegar as well as kombucha their signature tang. Vinegar is legally defined as having 4-8% acetic acid. kombucha typically has less than 1% acetic acid.
Baby
The new fibrous scooby mat that grows across the top of the fermentation vessel during fermentation of a new batch of kombucha. See Scooby, Pellicle
Bacterial Cellulose
Certain types of bacteria convert nutrients into the fibrous bacterial cellulose. Cellulose is found in the walls of plant cells and vegetable fibers and it is used in the construction of fabric, paper and other products. During kombucha fermentation the bacteria create the mild vinegar flavor as well as cellulose leading to the formation of the SCOBY, also known as the pellicle.
Batch
One brewing vessel of kombucha. Varies in size according to the size of the brewing vessel.
Batch Brewing
Method of brewing batches of kombucha wherein the entire contents of the brewing vessel are used and the brewing vessel is cleaned between batches.
Booch
Slang for kombucha
Bottle Bomb
Bottles filled with kombucha that explode due to over-carbonation. A manufacturing defect that can be caused  by continued fermentation in the bottle due to too much residual sugar when the kombucha was bottled, inadequate bottle strength or a combination of the two.
Brewhouse
When referring to the kombucha brewing process the vessels and tanks used for volume production of kombucha.
Burping
1) When referring to the kombucha brewing process the vessels and tanks used for volume production of kombucha.
2) Opening the sealed jar lid or bottle cap to release pressure from carbonation and prevent bottle bombs.
Cheesecloth
Commonly used porous cloth used to cover the top of the brewing vessel for small batches of brewing kombucha. Be sure to use multiple layers of cloth well secured around the top of the brewing vessel to protect from fruit flies and airborne contaminants getting into the kombucha as it ferments. Filter paper (like used to make coffee filters) or tight-weave cloth may prove a better choice for covering the vessel.
Continuous Brewing
A method where the brewing vessel is partially drained and refilled with sweet tea (as opposed to batch brewing, where the vessel is completely emptied and cleaned between batches.)
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D-E-F

First Fermentation
1F. Sugar, tea, starter liquid and SCOBY are combined together in an open-air vessel to start the brewing of unflavored kombucha.
Flavoring
Adding juice, fruit, herbs, spices, vegetables, etc. during secondary fermentation.  The organic acids formed during secondary fermentation extract the flavors and nutrients from the added flavor elements and result in a unique tasting beverage.
Fortified Kombucha
See Hard kombucha
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G-H-I

Glucuronic Acid
Glucuronic acid is a naturally occurring byproduct of kombucha fermentation which is believed to help maintain liver function and rid the body of excess toxins. This acid forms later in the fermentation process and its formation is enhanced through the Continuous Brew process.
Hard Booch
Slang for Hard Kombucha
Hard Jun
Regular jun (Xun) is typically 0.2%-1.2% ABV.  Hard jun undergoes extended fermentation with added yeast and sugar to produce jun with a significantly higher alcohol content, typically 4.5% to 6.5% ABV.
Hard Kombucha
Regular kombucha is typically 0.2%-1.2% ABV.  Hard kombucha undergoes extended fermentation with added yeast and sugar to produce kombucha with a significantly higher alcohol content, typically 4.5% to 6.5% ABV.
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J-K-L-M

Jun
Jun (or Xun) is a fermented drink similar to kombucha. The fermentation processes for kombucha and jun are essentially identical except that kombucha has as its base black teas and sugar while jun has as its base green teas and honey.
Kahm Yeast
A number of species non-toxic wild yeasts that can infect kombucha during brewing. In general, kahm yeast can be scraped off and discarded and the brew can continue. If it progresses to mold, however, the entire batch must be discarded, equipment thoroughly cleaned and the brewing process completely restarted.
Kefir
A traditional fermented drink similar to kombucha made by culturing water, sugar and fruit with a yeast starter culture.
Kombucha Tea
The beverage created by the kombucha fermentation process. Fermented tea.
Kombucha Vinegar
The vinegar that results from extra long fermentation or intentional souring of kombucha to create a higher acetic acid content. May be used anywhere vinegar is used such as salad dressings, marinades, hair tonic, facial toner, etc.
Mold
Any of a number of foodborne contaminant molds that may colonize and ruin a kombucha brew. Any kombucha brew that has been is infected with mold is unsafe to consume and should be discarded. The entire batch should be discarded, equipment thoroughly cleaned and the brewing process completely restarted.
Mother
The SCOBY that is used to start fermentation of a new batch of kombucha. A “baby” will become a “mother” if it is recovered from a complete batch and used to start a new brew. See Baby, SCOBY.
Mushroom
Slang for the appearance of the fibrous SCOBY mat, which can resemble a mushroom cap.
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N-O-P-Q

Ooglies
Trade term for strands of brownish yeast cultures that appear attached to the bottom of the SCOBY and in the brew during and after fermentation. Gently scrape off the scooby and strain out any ooglies in the brew at the time of bottling or consumption.
Pellicle
Another term for “SCOBY”. A ‘cellulose mat’ or ‘zoogleal mat’, this refers to the layer of cellulose and proteins that forms on top of fermented kombucha.
pH
Abbreviation used to express acidity and alkalinity in liquid solutions. Represented on a logarithmic scale ranging from 1-14, with 1 being the most acidic, 7 being neutral and 14 being the most alkaline. Kombucha is acidic and ranges from 2.1-3.8 pH with 2.5-3.5 pH being the taste range which most people prefer.
Primary fermentation
See First Fermentation
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R-S-T-U-V

SCOBY
Acronym  for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast – the organisms that cause kombucha fermentation to occur. Also called a “Pellicle” or a “Mother”.
SCOBY Hotel
A container used to store SCOBYs (Pellicles) and starter culture between brewing batches.
Second Fermentation
2F. After First Fermentation (1F) the fermented tea is placed in a closed vessel with added flavors to enhance the taste of the brew.
Secondary Fermentation
See Second Fermentation
Starter Culture
Starter liquid which is blended with sugar, tea and SCOBY to start a new brew. 
Starter Liquid
Starter liquid is simply fermented, unflavored kombucha. To get starter liquid for your next batch, remove and set aside 1-2 cups of kombucha of your current batch from your vessel before decanting.
Substrate
The base of the brew. For kombucha the substrate is tea and sugar. For jun the substrate is tea and honey. Flavorings are added to the substrate during fermentation to produce the final flavor.
Tea
1) Tea is an aromatic beverage made by combining boiling water with the leaves of the Chinese Camellia Sinensis plant. Tea is the most popular beverage in the world and it is consumed in every culture, second only to water.  (However, “Tea” is also a generic term of convenience for many different types of liquid beverages made with boiled water and flavorings – for example, chamomile tea, peppermint tea, etc which are not actually tea. So when we brew kombucha, it is important that we use tea leaves from actual tea plants.)
2) The different varieties of tea (black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea, etc.) are all created from the same tea leaves yet they yield different flavors depending upon where they are grown, when they are harvested and how they are processed. The longer the tea leaves are permitted to oxidize, the darker they become the more tannins they contain. Traditionally, kombucha is brewed with black tea which is high in tannins. As kombucha brewers have experimented, however, many different types of tea can successfully be used in primary fermentation.
Third Fermentation
3F. An optional process sometimes used to build more carbonation after second fermentation by adding more sugar to kombucha in bottles before capping.
Tibicos
A traditional fermented drink similar to kombucha made by culturing water, sugar and fruit with a yeast starter culture.
Ugglies
See Ooglies
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W-X-Y-Z

Yeast
Living single cell organisms that convert sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas during fermentation. Yeast is vital for the kombucha fermentation process.
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