Unpasteurized vs. Pasteurized: What's the Difference?
Back to Insights

Unpasteurized vs. Pasteurized: What's the Difference?

It's our belief that one of the amazing things about kombucha is that it's a living, co-evolving symbiotic community which adapts and responds to the environment in which it's produced.

It's our belief that one of the amazing things about kombucha is that it's a living, co-evolving symbiotic community which adapts and responds to the environment in which it's produced.

There is an intimate connection between the Mother SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeasts), and the unique wild yeasts of Appalachia in the process of open-air fermentation. Similar to honey, sourcing from our unique bioregion results in more flavorful, beneficial ingredients that are reflective of this time and place.

Creating the most nourishing beverages means starting with a traditional fermentation process and use one batch of raw, unpasteurized kombucha to start the next. This results in a highly diverse community of microbes.

It is worth noting that some kombucha and kefir brands pasteurize their brews and/or add probiotics to their final products – and while your tastebuds might not be able to distinguish the difference, your gut can.

The History of Fermentation

The history of fermentation can be traced back about 5,000 years to the Neolithic age — with evidence of wine and beer being made in Iran, then eventually Egypt, and across the world. “Kombucha,” or fermented tea, appeared about 2,000 years ago in the pan-asian region, specifically China and Japan.

Fermentation is a natural process that occurs when microorganisms like yeast and bacteria feed on carbohydrates — like sugar and starch. This process results in alcohol or acids, which act as a natural preservative and gives food the tartness and tanginess we are all quite fond of (some more than others).We have the wondrous process of fermentation to thank for some of our favorite foods and drinks – from delectable cheeses, crisp kimchi, delicious wine, beer and kombucha, to artisanal sourdough bread, and so on.

How is Kombucha Made

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with four ingredients: tea, water, sugar and SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). During traditional fermentation, microorganisms (yeast and bacteria) transform tea into kombucha and produce a SCOBY. This is the foundation of raw and unpasteurized kombucha that’s alive with probiotics and all the things that do your body good.

We believe keeping kombucha unpasteurized is essential in giving the gut the most opportunities to synthesize the health benefits that are associated with this living drink, like a healthy microbiome, immune system support, mood regulation and energy.

Pasteurization Process & Non-Traditional Brewing Methods

Let’s take a trip to the 1860’s. If you were paying attention in high school history or science class, you might recall learning about Louis Pasteur, a french microbiologist who defined the actual biochemical processes transpiring during fermentation, and, as his name suggests, introduced the concept of, and coined the term “pasteurization.” Pasteurization is the process of killing off microorganisms by applying controlled heat.

Pasteurization is effective for keeping food fresh, longer, but isn’t necessary for fermented foods, like kombucha or kefir soda (and can be detrimental to the beneficial, living organisms present). While other brands might pasteurize or employ non-traditional brewing methods, it does not necessarily make the brew any less delightful, BUT it does mean that it's no longer a traditional raw kombucha which develops its probiotics naturally through fermentation (meaning pasteurized kombucha lacks diversity in the digestive enzymes and live and active cultures)

Why do companies choose to pasteurize or employ other non-traditional brewing methods? Likely to control alcohol, speed up the fermentation period and gain a longer-shelf life, which means that it’s cheaper to produce, store, and ship, and ultimately leads to higher profits. But at what cost?

Seeking inspiration from our ancestral roots, and tapping into the traditional practices and wisdom of those before us, our family of living drinks are raw, unpasteurized, and fermented following a 2,000-year-old craft brewing tradition. We use living cultures and the finest raw and organic fruit juices, and functional ingredients to create bold flavors that astound, delight and perplex the pallets of people looking for something stronger and fresher – to support the complex ecosystem of our bodies.