The popularity of chai tea is on the rise. Masala chai usually contains a blend of black tea and spices like cloves, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and star anise. Each blend is different, and it can be fun to explore all the different combinations.
Many people wonder if kombucha can be made with chai tea. Here are a couple of things to consider before brewing masala chai kombucha:
OILS CAN BE HARMFUL TO THE KOMBUCHA CULTURE
That deliciously warming and fragrant flavor that emanates from the spice mixture in the masala chai actually comes from the oils of the spices. The problem with this, in terms of kombucha brewing, is that oils can harm the kombucha scoby. Fermenting chai and kombucha for several weeks can lead to rancid and maybe even moldy kombucha.
SPICES ARE OFTEN ANTIBACTERIAL
While the spices that taste so lovely can be good for us and help support the body's natural defenses, the antimicrobial properties of these spices can also interfere with the normal yeasts, acids, and bacteria that are present in the scoby and the kombucha tea itself.
Keeping these two factors in mind, some may still want to give masala chai kombucha a try.
BREWING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MASALA CHAI KOMBUCHA
- Keep a backup scoby going in your normal sweet-tea brew. In case something goes wrong, the back-up culture can still be used to make kombucha.
- Keep your brewing time to a minimum. The longer your kombucha brews, the more likely that the oils in the spices will go rancid.
- Read the tea label. Many brands of chai contain ingredients like processed sugars, “natural flavorings,” or added oils. These ingredients may make the chai kombucha brewing experience even more precarious. The only ingredients should be tea and various spices, organic if possible.
- Instead of brewing kombucha with chai tea, try adding a chai tea bag to the second fermentation as flavoring, to enjoy exotic spicy flavor of chai without endangering the scoby.
- Remember, never consume any kombucha tea that looks, tastes, or smells unpleasant. When in doubt, toss the whole batch including the scoby. Always err on the side of caution!
It doesn’t hurt to try new things with your kombucha. It is in those experiments that we often find some of the most unexpectedly delightful outcomes. Just keep a backup and you'll always be ready for more culturing adventures.