Processing Condition Effects on Sensory Profiles of Kombucha through Sensory Descriptive Analysis


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Kombucha is a fermented and often sweetened tea beverage that has become increasingly popular in the U.S. in the last decade. While it is often infused with fruits and vegetables to enhance aroma and flavor, unflavored kombucha itself has distinctive sensory attributes influenced by multiple factors, including initial tea type, initial sugar concentration, and fermentation temperature. How these different factors affect the final aroma and flavor of kombucha has been underexplored in the scientific literature. In this study, processing treatments, including tea type (black and green), sugar concentration (63 g/L and 94 g/L), and fermentation temperature (21 °C and 25.5 °C) were combined in a factorial design to produce experimental kombucha (K = 8). Panelists (N = 7) completed a full sensory Descriptive Analysis (DA) evaluation of the experimental kombucha, in which they defined 63 sensory attributes. MANOVA identified 43 sensory attributes that differed among the samples due to tea type, initial sugar concentration, and fermentation temperature, although surprisingly tea, sugar, and temperature did not interact significantly. Overall, teas fermented at a lower temperature or with higher sugar were sweeter, thicker, and associated with fruit-related aromatics; teas fermented at a higher temperature and with less sugar were associated with fermented, vegetal, and yeasty aromas, fizzy mouthfeels, and sour and bitter tastes. Surprisingly, tea type played only a weak role in final kombucha flavor.



Kombucha, Descriptive analysis