What is an Heirloom Culture?

Have you ever thought about what types of yeasts and bacteria are actually in kombucha? At Nash’s, we say that our kombucha is made from an “heirloom culture” because we don’t add in any particular strains of yeast and bacteria to our brews. Knowing that Northern California has a strong history of open-fermenting products like sourdough and exposing steam beer to the cold night air, we’ve been growing our own culture that originally came from Cultures for Health, an online supplier of cultures, starters and other fermentation supplies, for about five years. Our culture is exposed to the fresh Sierra Nevada Foothills air and feeds on the local yeasts and bacteria.

Some of the species that are definitely in our kombucha are acetobacter (the vinegar taste), zygosaccharomyces (responsible for the mushroom-like cover that grows on top), saccharomyces (the beer/wine yeast taste), brettanomyces (a distinct apple cider taste), lactobacillus (what makes San Francisco sourdough famous), and gluconacetobacter (helps digest alcohol produced by the yeasts and produces cellulose to build that mushroom-like cover).

We plan on getting some tests done someday to figure out exactly what strains are present in our kombucha and in what amounts, but for now we know that it works because it has helped our family members and our community.

All that being said, we personally consume kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented pickles, yogurt, and non pasteurized beer/cider because we think it’s important to get in as many of the different live cultures that are specialized to aid in the digestion of the wide variety of foods that we eat.