Tasting Tips for Kombucha Brewers

By: Lindsay Barr

CSO and Founding Partner, DraughtLab

(Featured Speaker – Refining Kombucha Flavor Through Sensory Science)

How many times a day do you taste your kombucha, tea, or other raw materials? It’s probably a lot! You may not know it, but when you’re tasting throughout the process, and making decisions from these tastings, you are running a basic tasting program.

Kombucha Tasting Programs

Tasting programs give you the tools to create the products your customers want to buy. By applying standard tasting techniques, you can demystify how customers experience the flavor of your products.

Now you may be thinking, “sounds awesome, but my brewery is too small to have a tasting program.” This is something we hear all the time, so in this blog post we will highlight what you can do right now to get started.

Keep it Simple

First, keep it simple! Every tasting you do should provide stakeholders the information they need to make good decisions. So, if you can’t easily identify the test’s purpose, don’t do it! Focus your resources where it will have the biggest impact first. This means that major research projects should take the backburner when you need to get your new product to market.

For more tips on focusing your resources, check out this blog post.

Develop Your Flavor Language

Clear product descriptions are at the foundation of any great tasting program. These product descriptions can help set brand targets, define differences between products, and identify when something might be off. But anyone who’s ever tried writing a product description from memory knows how intimidating and daunting this task can be. Start by using a unified lexicon to help guide your tastings. Product lexicons give you the framework to identify specific flavors so you can generate clear and actionable product descriptions.

Leverage Your Tasting Rooms

Chances are you’re already pouring your customers free samples, so why not use this opportunity to engage them for feedback? Your tasting room can be used to help take the guess work out of what your consumers experience. While your consumers may not be able to describe the intricacies of your product, they can tell you when something is “off”.

But before you just start asking your customers what they think about your products, there is a right and a wrong way of doing this. Anyone who has ever handed a customer a sample and asked, “do you like this?” knows that the answer is always “yes”. While it may feel good to get positive feedback, this response is not very useful.

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