The Kombucha Research Lab at Oregon State University, headed by Dr. Christopher Curtin, is conducting a new experiment to develop standards of identity for Kombucha products. With an increasing assortment of flavours and brands, the range of Kombucha products has been ever broadening. Kombucha Brewers International in collaboration with the Curtin Lab is determining Kombucha styles based upon organic acid and metabolite byproducts. Finished products as well as information regarding tea type and juice additives will be collected to construct a network of Kombucha composition. Nuclear magnetic resonance technology will be used to produce individual reports as well as to fulfill the study’s objective.
What is needed for participation?
In order to participate in the study, a finished product must be mailed to a laboratory personnel COLD. One or more bottles may be submitted as samples for the study. For each submission, a questionnaire is to be filled out, containing information about tea type, flavor, juice additions, sweetening agent, and descriptors of flavor. The questionnaire must be completed for sample processing.
When do you need to receive samples?
Sample collection begins May 25th and runs through June 15th. Individual results will be provided July 15th.
How does my brand participate?
Decide how many samples you’d like to have analyzed.
Purchase that number of tests.
KBI members = $125 per sample
Non KBI members = $250 per sample
Fill out Questionnaire (which will be emailed to you following your payment) – MUST BE COMPLETE IN ORDER TO RECEIVE REPORT – no refunds will be issued for incomplete questionnaires.
Legend of Kombucha & Origin of World Kombucha Day
“The most famous legend of Kombucha’s origin dates it to the Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE) during which time … it was referred to as the “Tea of Immortality.” The emperor Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇) is said to have sought to lengthen his life by any means available and this Tea of Immortality was delivered by alchemists at his request.” The Big Book of Kombucha
While we many never know where exactly Kombucha originated, this legend hints at the reverence that Kombucha brewers have had for this beautiful culture. Watch the video below to learn more about its historic origins. To honor the year of 221 BC, Kombucha Brewers International has designated February 21st (aka 2.21) as WORLD KOMBUCHA DAY!
The ethos behind World Kombucha Day is not only to celebrate our favorite ferment, it is also to raise awareness around symbiosis and interconnectedness; diversity and inclusion; our bonds as humans and stewards of the planet. To that end, collaborate and reach out to as many local brands as possible. This is an opportunity to celebrate the CULTURE of Kombucha as much as the drink.
Kombucha Culture Ethics
Healthy Boundaries lead to Healthy Culture
Strength in Diversity
Symbiosis provides win-win-win opportunities for people, planet & prosperity
Kombucha Brewing Industry Values
Symbiosis & Collaboration
Sustainability & Stewardship
Triple Bottom Line – People, Planet & Prosperity
Diversity is our Nature!
How to Celebrate World Kombucha Day
Offer free Kombucha to everyone
BOGO – buy one get one free
Free to first XX customers
Hold a tasting event at your taproom, favorite retailer or farmers market
Special Kombucha Kocktails/Mocktails
Several brands collab together at favorite retailer or farmers market
Potential to raise money for earth focused causes
Donate a portion of proceeds to KBI
1% for the Planet
Suggested Ways to Celebrate the Culture of Kombucha
SCOBY/Culture Petting Zoo (originated by Kombucha Kamp)
Pull out your mothers and invite consumers to touch them
Dispose of handled cultures for safety
Kombucha Brewing Demo
Offer a free workshop to walk people through the steps of brewing Kombucha
Sell your own homebrew Kombucha kit or refer them to KombuchaKamp.com
Giant Human SCOBY (originated by Kombucha Kamp)
Start the Giant Human SCOBY with the rules of engagement
“With safe touch & healthy boundaries, like the bacteria we love and as bacteriosapiens, we throw out our nanofibers of connection (aka your hands) to create a GIANT, HUMAN, SCOBY”
Request that everyone’s hands touch in order to “Close the loop”
Pause for a moment to breathe – it is not always easy to get large groups to connect so enjoy the vibrations of shared experience
Offer your heartfelt thoughts of love, humanity & the planet or any aspect of “Kombucha Culture”
Thank everyone for showing up and coming together, “united we stand” & “diversity is our nature”
Take photos or a video to share on social media
Other ways to entertain the crowd
Other Kombucha based or fermented food vendors
Attend a WKD event and bring your friends
Share our “What is Kombucha” YouTube video on social media
Post photos of you with your favorite Kombucha brand/homebrew & use the social media tags
Host a Kombucha tasting with friends
Can also be Hard Kombucha!
Wear your favorite Kombucha swag – post photos on social media
Share your story of how Kombucha has impacted your life on social media & tag us
Social Media Tags
Use these tags to celebrate the day!
Our next Capitol Hill Climb to support the KOMBUCHA Act is NEXT WEEK. This is a unique networking opportunity for ANY USA based Kombucha brewers to not only exercise their rights as US citizens but also to share quality time with fellow brewers. Here are all of the great things we do on our biannual Hill Climbs!
Network with fellow brewers and save money by sharing accommodations in the KBI Airbnb
Learn the ropes of lobbying with experienced brewers
Advocate for your industry
Create valuable relationship building skills with lawmakers
Join us in Washington DC on 9/25
Airbnb House 9/24-9/26 (leave morning of 9/26)
Dinner 9/24 & post lobbying meetup at The Dubliner 9/25, leave the morning of 9/26
Specifically looking for companies from Maine, Indiana, Montana, South Carolina, Florida and anyone who is close enough to drive in from New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Vermont, New Hampshire, or any other eastern seaboard state to join us –
** NON KBI MEMBERS also welcome to join us – We fight for your rights too!
If you are available to join us, please contact KBI at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive updated information as it becomes available.
We are booking an Airbnb that will be located near the Congressional offices, so please let us asap then if you would like to stay with us. The final cost is a LOT less expensive than renting a hotel room and allows all of us to share space, break bread and have fun!
We had a productive Hill Climb in DC! We had nine brands from six different states gathered in Washington DC to exercise their rights and educate lawmakers about the KOMBUCHA Act. We attended a total of 19 meetings with members of the Senate Finance Committee, House Ways & Means Committee as well as with Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Stay tuned to your email box as we will be asking Kombucha brewers across the nation to sign letters exhorting their Congresspeople & Senators to support our legislation. If you’d like to volunteer to be the lead member in your state or district, please email email@example.com for more details.
KBI is excited to launch the next phase of the KBI OSU SCOBY Genomics Study – part two. Building on the data gathered in the first study and reported about here, we are calling for new samples of SCOBYs & starter liquid from any Kombucha producer around the world.
Keisha-Rose Harrison, PhD student at Oregon State University is continuing the original study to learn more about the organisms present in Kombucha cultures through DNA Sequencing. In an effort to gain a deeper understanding of what the role of the various organisms may play in the fermentation process, we are also adding an analyte analysis to this new study.
For the analyte study, we will be using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology to evaluate the chemical profile of finished kombucha products. This rare piece of equipment has the efficiency to detect any residual sugars, amino acids, organic acids, and vitamins within your brew with high fidelity. This a great opportunity to get at the heart of what defines your unique kombucha brew!
The overarching goal of this project is to take the information we have about the organisms present in the culture via the DNA Sequencing study and combine that with the knowledge of which analtyes are being produced to start to piece together how the different flavors and qualities of our brews match up with the range of chemical compounds within kombucha. Your participation will contribute to the general definition of kombucha.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE STUDY – We are no longer accepting submissions for this study.
We are aiming for 200+ total samples to be analyzed in order to have a sufficient pool to draw conclusions. We invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn what is in your culture while also contributing to the deeper body of knowledge about Kombucha as a whole. Furthermore, your submission will be kept confidential and you will receive an individualized chemical analysis report. Similar to the Kombucha Genetics Study, following the release of individual reports, a KBI blog report will be written to contextualize your results within the frame of the population.
If you are a current KBI member, the cost is only $125 per sample for each test – you may choose to participate in only the DNA Sequencing, only the Analyte Analysis or both for a discounted price of $200 per sample. Part of the cost goes directly to the university to cover the sequencing, part of it is to cover shipping of kits and the purchase of the kit supplies and the rest covers administrative costs.
Non-KBI members are also invited to participate!. The cost is $250 per sample for non-members with a discounted price of $450 for both. Or join KBI today to receive the member pricing.
DNA sequencing typically costs several hundred up to thousands of dollars per sample, so this is a significant savings for valuable information. The data will only ever be presented in an aggregate format to protect confidentiality for all participants. The analyte study will include over 20 different analytes providing a huge savings over testing them individually with private labs.
By Dr. Chris Curtin & Keisha-Rose Harrison of Oregon State University & Hannah Crum of Kombucha Brewers International & Kombucha Kamp
Thank you to everyone who participated in the first round of the KBI & Oregon State University Kombucha SCOBY DNA Sequencing study. With your help we sequenced nearly 100 samples provided by over 70 different companies from 26 states and 9 different countries around the world. The largest SCOBY DNA Sequencing Study to date! Previous studies that sought to improve our knowledge of SCOBY microbial populations have been more limited in scope. We now have more data points which can provide a clearer understanding of which microbes are common across commercial SCOBYs, and an opportunity to learn which strains may be responsible for different fermentation and flavour outcomes.
DNA Sequencing Analysis Process
For each sample received, we blended a standardized amount of SCOBY under controlled conditions, and then extracted the DNA from all microbes present in the sample. Regions of DNA that can be interpreted as ‘barcodes’ were amplified from each sample and sequenced using Illumina Miseq technology. The sequences of these ‘barcodes’ were compared to large databases of fungi and bacteria, and assigned to Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs). In this study OTUs were defined at a standard cutoff of 97% similarity. In other words, if two ‘barcodes’ are only 96% similar in DNA sequence they would not be grouped into the same OTU.
Is an OTU representative of a species? Sometimes yes, but often no – within many genera (particularly for bacteria) individual species cannot be reliably differentiated using current DNA ‘barcodes’. This approach is highly robust when used to provide resolution at the genus level, meaning that all OTUs for one type of organisms are grouped together. For example, if a SCOBY contained both Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum their DNA ‘barcodes’ would be grouped together as Lactobacillus.
After the samples are matched at the genus level, each ‘barcode’ detected is counted to provide the frequency with which it appears in the sample to determine the proportion at which each genus of the whole bacterial or fungal population exists. These are the numbers of the sample represented as as follows: Dekkera 0.67 means that 67% of the fungal population in your sample belongs to the Dekkera genus.
Interpreting Your Results
Each sequencing report provided participants the bacteria and fungi profile of the sampled SCOBY. Below is an example of a report of bacteria detected. The genus level is read as “g_GENUS”. The number provided indicates how much of bacteria was present in the sample. For instance, 94.8% of this example sample is Gluconoacetobacter. Some other OTU groupings could not be reliably defined at genus level, in which case they will be named at family level but assigned as ‘Other’ or ‘g__’ at genus level. In this example, 2.7% of the bacterial population is made up of bacteria within family Acetobacteraceae that could not be assigned to a genus.
Using the values provided we can create a visual of the bacteria composition.
Please note that the taxonomic name of organisms can change. For example, Dekkera is now known only as Brettanomyces (previously the names were interchangeable), while Gluconoacteobacter xylinum and Acetobacter xylinum have been reassigned to Komagataeibacter xylinum. We’re sorry, but this is just as confusing for seasoned microbiologists!
Q: “My report says “unknown” for some of the organisms. What does that mean?”
A: Sometimes ‘barcodes’ are not able to be definitely assigned at the genus level due to a lack of resolution or because the sample may contain a species that has not yet been identified by the microbiology community. These OTUs are then grouped at the family level and genus may be given as ‘undefined’, ‘unknown’ or ‘other’.
How do your results compare to the “average” SCOBY
Each company received an individual report listing the respective percentages of each type of bacteria and yeast found in their sample.
In the aggregate, it was found that the organisms occurred in these relative percentages:
Making Sense of the Study
DOMINANT YEAST AND BACTERIA
As presented at KombuchaKon18, results from the study confirm that there is variability in SCOBY samples collected from different brewers. However we were able to identify core microbes that are present in most SCOBYs. On average, the most common fungi were Brettanomyces/Dekkera and Starmerella, while the most common bacteria were Gluconacetobacter, Gluconobacter, and Lactobacillus.
The near constant fluctuation of organism name changes presents its own kind of challenge. In previous SCOBY & Kombucha DNA Sequencing studies, for example, there are no instances of Starmerella being detected, however, when doing cursory research, it turns out this is a newer nomenclature for many species that used to be known as different types of Candida spp. which have been identified in other studies. However, without going to the species level, it is difficult to ascertain which stains correspond to those found in previous studies versus which may be novel to Kombucha.
HOW DOES THIS INFLUENCE FLAVOR AND FERMENTATION?
Identifying the prevalent organisms within the SCOBY is the first step towards answering this question. We do know that different types of yeast convert sugar to alcohol at different rates. It is also known that different types of bacteria produce varying kinds of organic acids in similar fermentation models, i.e. beer, wine (see table below). There is likely some overlap in how these microbes influence kombucha.
For the next study, we aim to determine how different microbial profiles influence your finished raw product. Continued participation in these studies will go a long way to addressing these questions.
In the meantime, some of the organisms found in Kombucha are also found in wine & beer. Here are some links to charts that outline the flavor profile and characteristics of some of those organisms.
ARE SCOBYs MORE VARIABLE IN THEIR BACTERIA OR YEAST POPULATIONS?
On the whole, there seems to be more variability in the bacteria profiles of SCOBY samples. Bacteria are responsible for converting most of the ethanol into organic acids and for building the SCOBY. We will continue to study how different types of bacteria influence the secondary fermentation.
VARIATION BETWEEN SCOBY AND STARTER FLUID MICROBIAL POPULATIONS
For this study we only examined the SCOBY and not the starter fluid. For the second sequencing study we will look at both! As mentioned in the presentation at Kombuchakon, acetic acid bacteria build the the SCOBY. They do not have to live in the SCOBY to produce acids (e.g. vinegar is made without a SCOBY), just as yeast do not have to live in the SCOBY to degrade sugars. The SCOBY does, however, enable repeated fermentations to be started with multiple species present, something that would be difficult to achieve otherwise. The SCOBY effectively buffers microbes against what would otherwise be a fluctuating environment as the sweet tea goes through alcoholic fermentation and acetification. .
At the time of sample collection, a couple of questions were asked in order to analyze the data according to a couple of variables – namely age of the culture sampled and location. We then sent out a follow up survey for additional metadata including age of the culture sampled, type & quantity of tea; type & quantity of sugar; and batch size to see if the data would show any trends or patterns based on these variables. Not all participants answered this part of the survey and we hope to have a more thorough Metadata Analysis available in future studies. This will greatly enhance the applicability of study results to the KBI community.
Preliminary analyses suggest there may be some region-to-region variances in the bacteria and fungal composition of the SCOBY, though it should be noted that sample numbers and the amount of metadata provided were uneven. Future studies will request additional metadata in order to determine the influence of types & quantities of tea, sugar and other variables.
KBI & OSU will be partnering on a new DNA sequencing study and will also be conducting an analyte study. We hope to receive at least as many samples as last time if not more so that our knowledge base will continue to deepen. Stay tuned for more details coming soon!
KBI Official Guidance – Added Sugars & Nutrition Panel Changes
Based on the rules put forth by the FDA effective July 26, 2016, commercial Kombucha producers in the United States are required to indicate the sugar they add to the fermentation process as “Added Sugars.” However, the amount required to put on the label is AFTER fermentation has occurred. To be in compliance with this […]
Thursday, 21st December 2017
Based on the rules put forth by the FDA effective July 26, 2016, commercial Kombucha producers in the United States are required to indicate the sugar they add to the fermentation process as “Added Sugars.” However, the amount required to put on the label is AFTER fermentation has occurred.
To be in compliance with this rule, it is advised that Kombucha producers in the United States submit their products to a third party lab for sugar testing.
Clear records and scientific documentation that demonstrate the accurate amount of sugar grams in the final products along with a narrative of why the amount is different than the starting sugar are required to be kept on file.
Any Kombucha producer that adds juice concentrate, sugar or sugar substitutes to their final product would need to also include that information as part of the “Added Sugars” amount on the label.
The amount of sugars present must be declared as both TOTAL and ADDED sugars (21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(iii)).
Added sugars may not exceed the Total sugars amount listed on the label.
Added sugars = the amount of sugar remaining in the product AFTER fermentation.
Clear documentation and narrative are kept on file and provided upon request.
Any other sugars added in the flavoring stage are also to be included as ADDED SUGAR
sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides) (this would included fructose, sucrose, and glucose)
sugars from syrups and honey
sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type
15g of sugar are measured in the sweet tea substrate before fermentation
The product is tested after fermentation and has reduced to 12g of sugar
The label now reads:
Total Sugar 12g
Added Sugar 12g
The new rules put forth by the FDA regarding added sugars are listed here for reference (important details bolded by KBI):
Requiring the declaration of the gram amount of “added sugars” in a serving of a product, establishing a Daily Reference Value (DRV), and requiring the percent Daily Value (DV) declaration for added sugars;
Changing “Sugars” to “Total Sugars” and requiring that “Includes `X’ g Added Sugars” be indented and declared directly below “Total Sugars” on the label;
The rule requires a manufacturer with sugars added before and during the fermentation process to make and keep records of added sugars necessary to determine the amount of added sugars present in the finished food. The rule requires manufacturers of such foods to make and keep records of all relevant scientific data and information relied upon by the manufacturer that demonstrates the amount of added sugars in the food after fermentation and a narrative explaining why the data and information are sufficient to demonstrate the amount of added sugars declared in the finished food, provided the data and information used is specific to the type of fermented food manufactured.
Establishing a compliance date of 2 years after the final rule’s effective date (7/26/16), except that manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have a compliance date of 3 years after the final rule’s effective date. (For more details, see part III.)
ALL BRANDS WILL NEED TO BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THIS LABEL CHANGE
Example of where Added Sugars to be noted on label:
RECOMMENDED NARRATIVE TO KEEP WITH SCIENTIFIC RECORDS
Kombucha is a traditionally fermented beverage made of tea, sugar and SCOBY. Throughout the fermentation process, the sugar added at the beginning is consumed by the microorganisms in the SCOBY and is reduced over time in two ways. Cane sugar is sucrose, a disaccharide. Initially, the yeast split the sugar molecule into its monosaccharide components, fructose and glucose. Primarily, this results in a lower glycemic impact to the consumer because the complex carbohydrates are broken down into simpler sugars. Secondarily, the amount of sugar remaining is also reduced the longer the fermentation continues. The byproducts of this process are converted into organic acids giving Kombucha is unique flavor and properties.
Updated 022218 to clarify types of sugars that need to be classified as “Added Sugar”
Updated 080719 to list example and clarify Added Sugars may not exceed Total Sugars on label
Update 102919 to add Nutrition Facts Panel and Supplement Facts Panel regulations
Municipalities are eager to find new ways to fund their operations and programs. Lately it has been popular to enact a “sugar tax” on non-alcoholic beverages that exceed whatever threshold the municipality has deemed as acceptable. There is a long history of enacting “sin taxes” on products that are perceived or proven to have a negative impact on the health of consumers in an attempt to limit their behavior.
Kombucha is a traditional fermented beverage made from tea and sugar. During the fermentation process, most of the sugars are consumed by the microorganisms present in the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) and converted into trace amounts of ethanol and organic acids. Each producer has their own fermentation process and method as well as their own flavor profile – some of which may skew sweeter in order to attract a certain type of consumer.
However, despite having some sugar present, the fermentation process materially changes the structure of the sugars – the disaccharide sucrose (table sugar) is broken into its monosaccharide components thus creating a lower glycemic impact. Also, the living organisms and nutrition in a living form (trace amounts of B vitamins, vitamin C, amino acids, etc) contribute a net positive effect to the consumer unlike comparable non-alcoholic beverages – i.e. sodas, energy drinks, juices, etc.
Moreover, many of these statutes include exemptions for products such as diet soda which, while their sugar content may be low, do contain known carcinogens. The unintended consequence is that products that are healthier end up taxed while less healthy options cost less and could influence consumer behavior in a negative way.
While KBI has been active in supporting its members who are dealing with these local statutes, ultimately, the decision whether or not to tax Kombucha falls to the cities themselves. Any taxes required are charged at the discretion of those locales and are not in any way under the purview of the Kombucha producer.
Jayabalan, Rasu, et al. “A review on kombucha tea—microbiology, composition, fermentation, beneficial effects, toxicity, and tea fungus.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 13.4 (2014): 538-550.
Rev.090617 Adopted by KBI Board Oct 2017
Kombucha is a traditionally fermented, low alcohol, non-intoxicating beverage that is most commonly consumed raw, meaning unpasteurized, to protect the probiotics and nutrients in a living form from being damaged.
Unpasteurized means not subject to pasteurization via heat or chemical means. As a result of remaining a raw product, it can experience slight shifts in ethanol as the fermentation process continues in the bottle.
To arrest that process, raw Kombucha must be kept cold at all times to maintain the integrity of the product and to prevent over fermentation in the bottle.
Cold storage ought to be maintained at 34-40º F /1.1-4.4ºC to slow the fermentation of the Kombucha throughout the supply chain.
Shelf life of Kombucha is determined by how long the product can remain in cold storage before the ethanol level goes above the prescribed legal limit (will vary based on location).
Products that claim to be both shelf-stable and raw are not currently recognized as stable without further evidence vis a vis shelf life testing by a third party lab to verify that the ethanol level remains within the legal limit for that location. No such products currently exist in the US marketplace as all raw Kombucha is subject to refrigeration.
Rev.090517 Approved KBI Board October 2017
KBI is excited to announce a partnership with Oregon State University to study the organisms present in Kombucha cultures from around the United States. The purpose of the study is to try sequence numerous samples from a wide variety of places to answer the question of “What is a SCOBY?”
After sequencing all of the samples, the data will be analyzed to see which organisms are common to all cultures, which are not, which are unique to specific locations. This information is the first step to gaining a deeper understanding of how the microorganisms contribute to flavor, alcohol content and more.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE STUDY
We are aiming for 200+ total samples to be analyzed in order to have a sufficient pool to draw conclusions. We invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn what is in your culture while also contributing to the deeper body of knowledge about Kombucha as a whole. Each participant will be provided a detailed report with all of the organisms present in their culture.
If you are a current KBI member, the cost is only $100 per sample. Part of the cost goes directly to the university to cover the sequencing, part of it is to cover shipping of kits and the purchase of the kit supplies and the rest covers administrative costs.
Non-KBI members are also invited to participate!. The cost is $250 per sample for non-members. Or join KBI today to receive the member pricing.
DNA sequencing typically costs several hundred up to thousands of dollars per sample, so this is a significant savings for valuable information. The data will only ever be presented in an aggregate format to protect confidentiality for all participants.
We have a tight timeline (all samples need to be received by October 15th extended to October 30th!), so please sign up today.
We look forward to your participation and hope to see you at KombuchaKon18 – Defining Our Culture where the results will be presented.
Join us at the Expert Review Panel on Ethanol Testing for Kombucha at the AOAC’s 131’st Annual Meeting taking place at the Atlanta Marriott on Sunday September 24th from 1-4pm. The meeting is free for all to attend.
KBI President, Hannah Crum, will be on the panel. KBI Secretary, Melanie Wade (Golda Kombucha), along with Claire Irie of Lupa’s Kitchen and Adina Martinez of Mighty Bucha will also be in attendance and will be bringing Kombucha to share with the panel.