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I was reading about different types of fermented beverages, and it struck me that kombucha and water kefir are remarkably similar: water + simple granulated sugar + SCOBY. I'm skeptical that the addition of tea significantly contributes to or changes the fermentation process, so without the tea they seem very similar. I'm curious if a superior tea flavor could be achieved by brewing the kombucha like a water kefir (ie omitting tea) and adding a freshly brewed tea concentrate later.

Other than the cultures specific to each process, though they likely both share S. cerevisiae

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  • fresh concentrate seems to be a oxymoron to me, can you explain what your motivation is for using consentrate? – Neil Meyer May 5 '20 at 12:49
  • By fresh concentrate I mean tea brewed with more leaf than one would normally use for a usual cup. This would compensate for the water used in fermentation to achieve a moderate strength of tea. – schimmch May 5 '20 at 15:41
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You do not have to use tea to make kombucha. For example, the Noma Guide to Fermentation contains seven kombucha recipes, none of which use actual tea. A recommended way of storing SCOBYs when not brewing is to store them in a water + sugar solution, which needs to be refreshed every so often. Thus, your suggested method of making "kombucha" from water + sugar, then mixing with a strong tea would work in principle.

That said, I would expect the result of this method to be essentially a mix of tea and acetic acid, with little to no added complexity of flavour. For me, that complexity is most of the fun of making kombucha.

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    I keep seeing that book mentioned, I'll have to check it out. I guess that's my point, if kombucha cultures largely do not interact with or alter tea compounds then what's being made is vinegar flavored with stale tea, though I will say that the product seems to be more complex than ordinary vinegar. With a secondary fermentation, it's close to a shrub. – schimmch May 11 '20 at 17:36

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