Kombucha fermentation is traditionally carried out by inoculating a previously grown tea fungal mat into a freshly prepared tea broth and incubating under aerobic conditions for 7-10 days. In this study, four kombucha beverages were prepared by placing the tea fungal mats in sugared Sri Lankan black tea at varying concentrations for a period of 8 weeks. The antioxidant activities, physicochemical, and qualitative properties were monitored prior to the commencement of the fermentation process, one day after the inoculation with the microorganisms and subsequently on a weekly basis. All samples displayed a statistically significant decrease (p < .05) in the antioxidant activity at the end of 8 weeks, which was indicative of the decreasing functional properties of the beverage. The physicochemical properties indicated increased acidity and turbidity, which might decrease consumer appeal of the fermented beverage. Further studies are necessary to test the accumulation of organic acids, nucleic acids, and toxicity of kombucha on human organs following the extended period of fermentation.
Keywords: Kombucha; antioxidant activity; fermentation; orac; tea; total phenolics content.