Top 10 Questions about Sugar & Kombucha

Sugar is truly a wondrous, misunderstood building block of life. It is nature’s gasoline: real, honest and pure energy, and when delivered in an easily digestible form, incredibly efficient!

A smiling child pours the contents of a blue Pixy Stick into the open mouth of another child while standing next to a pool.
The classic Big Brother tries to kill Little Brother with “Pixy Stick Choke Maneuver.” Well played.

And yet, is there a necessary-for-life substance in our society with which we have a more tortured relationship than sugar?  How did we end up in such a BATTLE with something we desperately need to survive? I have some ideas, but as always, the answers to “how” are not as important as the answers to “what now?”

Pounding candy bars and soda pop is a rite of childhood that is born directly from the needs of the body. Kids are growing and they need energy. That’s how horrible/wonderful products of my youth like FunDip or Pixy Sticks became my favorites.

As I grew up, I started taking my alcohol with lots of sugar. Dessert was my favorite meal. Snacks took their toll.

Packages of Fun Dip, candy sticks dipped in sugar, by Wonka candies.
Sugar stick dipped in sugar? “Absolutely!” was my answer before Kombucha.

But then something funny happened on the way to the Kombucha Forum. As my Kombucha consumption became more regular, I noticed that my sugar cravings were decreasing. At the same time, the “sour” taste of the Booch dissipated and became more natural to my palate.

These days, my sugar cravings are entirely mental. Once I have dessert in front of me, I rarely eat more than a few bites. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is *strong* and doesn’t want anything to do with that insulin spike. This is one of the greatest Kombucha benefits I have experienced.

That is why misgivings about Kombucha & Sugar are mostly misguided. Without the sugar, there is no fermentation, and without fermentation, there’s no good stuff to feed your body.

So let’s ask Wiki before we get started. Hey Wiki, what’s sugar?

Stalks of sugar cane which is a type of grass native to India before they've been processed into sugar crystals.

Sugar is a term for a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose characterized by a sweet flavor. In food, sugar almost exclusively refers to sucrose, which primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet. Other sugars are used in industrial food preparation, but are usually known by more specific names—glucose, fructose or fruit sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.

BONUS FACT: Sugar cane originated in India and the English word for sugar comes via Arabic سكر sukkar from Sanskrit शर्करा sharkara

Okay that sounds about right. Here is a simple Sugar FAQ to settle your nerves once and for all about Kombucha & Sugar:

1. Do I have to use sugar? I never consume sugar so it puts me off Kombucha.

The sugar in Kombucha is for the culture to consume, not for you. When done fermenting, there will be about 2-6 grams per 8 ounce glass of unflavored Kombucha. By contrast, an 8 ounce glass of orange juice has about 24g of sugar. Natural carrot juices have 13g per 8 ounces. If fermented longer, say for 3 weeks or longer, sugar levels in Kombucha may be even lower – Recommended for diabetics and others with low sugar tolerance.

2. Why does Kombucha need so much sugar?

Without sugar, Kombucha cannot ferment.  Sucrose is most easy to digest by the yeasts; they consume the sugar and put out CO2 (carbon dioxide, i.e. the bubbles in your booch) & ethanol (alcohol). Which is nice.

BONUS FACT: Then, as part of the symbiosis, the bacteria consume the ethanol and express the healthy amino acids, trace vitamins and minerals.

3. Do I have to add all of the sugar?

Yes.  The standard Kombucha recipe is 1 cup of sugar per gallon. Too little and you are inhibiting the brew’s normal healthy development; no SCOBY, no acetic acid. Too much and the yeasts will either a) “flush” and overrun the bacteria, or b) fall completely asleep and do nothing.

4. What type of sugar should I use to brew Kombucha?

This debate can be heated, but it’s really simple. Most sugars are fine for Kombucha (with a few exceptions, see below), but there are preferred choices:

Four piles of different types of sugar on a table: White Sugar, Evaporated Cane Juice, Brown Sugar & Demerrera.
The color of sugar is determined by how much molasses is left after processing.
  • Plain White Sugar– the Kombucha culture consumes this easiest. Use only “cane sugar” to avoid GMO beet sugar. Concerns about trace toxins in white sugar processing should be considered.
  • Evaporated Cane Juice – My personal choice. Cleaner process but slightly more difficult for the Kombucha to consume.
  • Brown Sugar – Harder for the Kombucha to break down, it will also change the flavor significantly. Experimental batches only.
  • Honey – A wonderful choice but DO NOT USE RAW. The bacteria will disturb the Kombucha SCOBY balance and could brew up a dangerous concoction.
  • Agave – Can turn the brew more sour, so use less.  Must be combined with another sugar type that contains glucose for the long term health of the culture.

For more details including ratios for how much to use per gallon, check out Types of Sugar to Use for Brewing Kombucha.

BONUS FACT: Evaporated Cane Juice and brown sugar have higher levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. These healthful elements are passed on to the Kombucha drinker.

5. What types of sugar must be avoided when brewing Kombucha?

  • Raw Honey – The naturally occurring bacteria will battle the SCOBY for dominance. It sounds bad because it is.
  • Stevia – Stevia is a plant sugar and will not ferment.
  • Xylitol (and it’s precursor Xylose) – What makes Xylitol great for chewing gum and teeth is that it’s “non-fermentable,” which makes it useless for the booch.
  • Lactose – Kombucha is not lacto-fermentable.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup -Must I explain? Your body can’t even break this stuff down.
  • Any Artificial Sweetener – I have heard some crazy ideas: Erithritol, Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin?! Someone asked if they can use Mountain Dew as starter. No. No you cannot.

BONUS FACT: High Fructose Corn Syrup caused a higher incidence of obesity and metabolic diseases in rats than sugar (sucrose) in a study done last year by Princeton.

6. Can multiple types of sugar be combined into one Kombucha brew?

Absolutely! Just as with tea blends, sugar blends can add flavor and depth to your brew. Have fun and experiment!

7. Organic? Fair Trade? Do these things matter?

Not to the Kombucha. Only to me. I make these (slightly more expensive) choices for my physical and mental health. However, no one should ever put off brewing Kombucha for fear of expense. Lipton tea bags and plain white sugar will get the job done just fine.

8. What if I forget to add the sugar? Can I add it after without harming the SCOBY?

Yes. If it has only been a few hours to a day, remove the SCOBY, add the sugar to the brew, stir and then return the SCOBY to your vessel. The sugar will be consumed by the yeast eventually, but the process may take a few extra days.

9. The science is confusing. What are fructose, sucrose & glucose?

  • Sucrose (C12H22O11) = Regular Table Sugar = Fructose + Glucose
  • Fructose (C6H12O6) = Natural Fruit Sugar
  • Glucose (C6H12O6) = The most commonly used energy source in the biological world. Also known as dextrose.

Kombucha fermentation breaks down sucrose into fructose and glucose which feed the yeast which feeds the bacteria which feeds you. Awesome!

10. Is there a way to test for how much sugar is left in my brew?

You can try using a hydrometer to measure both sugar and alcohol content. However, it is a complicated process that produces inaccurate readings when dealing with Kombucha. In short, a hydrometer will overestimate both sugar and alcohol readings in the brew, often by double but sometimes more or less. For this reason, it’s difficult to trust.

If you want something a bit easier, you can try an Accuvin residual sugar test.

For homebrewers, we generally do not recommend worrying about specific tests. Instead, we say Trust Your Gut and your tastebuds. The longer you ferment, the lower the sugar, but a little is needed to balance the flavor, so don’t let it go too long.

If it gets really sour, start a SCOBY Hotel with it!


Have any other questions about sugar? Experimented with types and combinations and want to share your knowledge?

Leave a comment below!

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Responses to Top 10 Questions about Sugar & Kombucha

  1. Hi HC, thank you for a lovely and informative website. I have a question that I’m struggling to find an answer to. I’ve read most of the comments below and haven’t found an answer yet, so I apologise if the question has already been asked:

    To disolve or not to disolve?!
    I’ve heard from some expert brewers, that kombucha can break down the sugars much better when the sugar is not disolved in the tea. Therefore I set the tea to cool down before adding the sugar and then after the sugar sits at the bottom of the jar, I introduce the Scoby.

    However most of the instructions that I see online suggest to add the sugar when the tea is still hot and stir it for full dilution. I’m a little confused now. Do you know which the Scoby prefers and can break down better?

    I appreciate any tips on this

  2. I read this article it was great. I also read the article about Types of sugar. I have been scouring the internet on how to make kombucha with ONLY dextrose I see that it breaks everything down into dextrose so if I use dextrose maybe it won’t need to spend energy breaking it down? also, dextrose is pure glucose which every cell in your body can use, unlike sucrose and fructose. I’m very curious how much I would use? I know for cooking you have to use more to make it as sweet but since there is no conversion process wouldn’t I use less?

  3. My scoby rested in tea and sugar for 2 weeks — usually I bottle it then. However, After water damage from a fire in my apartment building, I had to leave to stay in a hotels. Althought I can’t live in my apartment, I can step foot into it. (The kitchen sink is removed and all my belongings are boxed up.) Today I added another cup of sugar to the already furmented tea. It bubbled up a bit. Much of the sugar sank to the bottom of the jar. Will this extra sugar kill or save my scoby? What is your best guess?

    • All good – it will give them some fuel until you are able to brew again. If you can brew up a cup of tea in a microwave and then dilute with cool water, they’d appreciate those nutrients as well. Good luck!

  4. I got a refractometer for Christmas, and just tested my finished kombucha (before 2nd ferment). It says 7 Brix, which if I’m understanding right means 7g of sugar in 3oz, which is impossible because it starts with less sugar than that! What am I doing wrong?

    • Refractometers are not always accurate when it comes to Kombucha due to the particulate in the liquid. Try taking a reading before fermentation begins (sweet tea mixture) and then again when you are ready to harvest the brew. There should be a noticeable change.

  5. […] as they digest sugars, yeast give off CO2, which makes the drink fizzy. When yeasts break down the sugar in kombucha, they leave behind ethanol, B vitamins, CO2 and acids, which is what bacteria need in order to do […]

  6. Hello and thank you for the info! I have cancer and avoid sugar like the plague. I do eat fruits, as I know this type of sugar is healthy. Is it the same with the sugar left in Kombucha regardless of the type used?

    Thank you,

    • The sugars remaining in Kombucha are typically monosaccharides which means they have a lower glycemic index. How much of that conversion process has taken place depends on brewing temperature and time. The more tangy the flavor, the more of the sugars have been converted. You can always dilute a tangy brew with water or juice to make it more palatable.

  7. Hello!! I am wondering if it would be okay to add the sugar to my gallon of tea (with SCOBY) after 7 days without the sugar? Thank you!

    • Maybe…? If there isn’t any mold at this point, you might add the sugar, but it’s probably best to just start a fresh batch and include the right amount of sugar.

  8. how much kombucha we’re you drinking daily and for how long before your blood became alkaline & your sugar cravings disapated?

    • Every BODY is different – so it will be different person to person. If you crave sugar, have a sip of Kombucha and some water. The delicious flavor will distract your tastebuds and soon you will forget you were craving sugar!

    • Yes, simply add some to your bottles and flavor as usual! We recommend no more than 5-10% of the bottle include flavors to prevent over carbonation and off flavors.

  9. Thank you HC for your dedication and time put into teaching us about Kombucha making. I read every single post before commenting and asking these questions.
    Enough people have asked the same question about sugar so I am now quite educated in this subject… :)_
    Question #1 could you please comment on how much kombucha a persons body can handle in one day? I am the only person in my family drinking it. I feed every Sunday and am very happy with my results.

    Thanks to your input on sugar types. I now understand the type of sugar changes the flavor of the first brew so I will experiment with this.

    Question #2 I have 2 large bottles (second fermentation) never put in the refrigerator and in a dark place that I forgot about for 2 years. Would love to hear your thoughts on if I should clean off the dust and try them? One of your comments said kombucha never goes bad just less sugar content. AND would you be curious and try it if you forgot about them?
    Blessings to you and yours!

    • Q1) The amount a body can handle will vary person to person. Most start with 8-16oz a day but some will drink a gallon or more! Just like any food, at some point your body will indicate its had enough. Often people early on will consume more Kombucha as their body is rebalancing from a nutrient deficiency. Once that’s been balanced, cravings will minimize and consumption may reduce. Like everything in your diet, vary the quantities for best results.

      Q2) Yes! Give it a try. You may or may not like the flavor but as long as there’s no mold, you can enjoy it. Sometimes an old bottle has a flavor that is unmatched with a younger one and other times, it tastes awful.

  10. Just to clarify a point made in your post.. while erythritol may not be suitable for brewing kombucha, it is not an artificial sweetener by any means. It is natural.

    • Thanks for the clarification Dee – we’ve also seen erythritol added to some commercial Kombucha products as a sweetener but it is not suitable as a primary sugar source.

  11. About #8…what if it’s been brewing for a week and we just realized no sugar was added? Is the SCOBY now dead? Should we toss it all and start again?

  12. i accidentally added 2 cups of sugar to a 1gallon jug with enough tea for a 1 gallon set up. If I add a second SCOBY & starter liquid, will it bring the sugar back into balance?


  13. I am a newby in Kombucha brewing. Just got my first batch done. Questions: Does SCOBY need to be refrigerated for next brewing?
    What is the best place to store the SCOBY?

  14. I use 3/4 cup organic sugar to a gallon to 8 tea bags of a variety of caffeine teas. I usually brew 3-4 weeks. Scoby stays a float and grows maybe not as fast but always very bubbly and active. I deal with high blood sugar so this has been my recipe for about the last year, I always have 2 gallons brewing alternatively. Just a thought for prediabetic or diabetic options.

  15. Hey awesome post love the info I got from it! Just wondering if this also applies to the “2nd fermentation” when you are adding flavoring? I have been looking at recipes and where original kombucha tea is 1 cup per gallon some of the flavoring recipes (I’m using hibiscus and rose hips tea) call for 1 cup of sugar per 4 cups of kombucha.. just seems like a lot??

    • yes – that is a very high ratio of sugar for flavoring. We’d recommend 1/8-1/4 tsp per 16oz ONLY if you are not adding any fruit or flavorings that will naturally nutrify the yeast.

  16. Thanks for the helpful #10 tip about testing sugar level. I am trying to be sugar free and do like my kombucha sour so I am hoping that the sugar level will be low. I now can test it with your tip. Thanks!

  17. Hi Hannah and fellow Bucha brewers. What are your thoughts on using glucose/dextrose instead of cane sugar? No particular reason for asking other than I have more of this at home than cane sugar. Neither of them get used much here so if the glucose works okay then I’ve found a use for it.

  18. I did a similar thing. I poured off 75% of my two gallon container into bottles. I then added my base with two cups of sugar and 16 teabags. Only problem was that I could not add the full two gallons of water. I forgot that I left 64 ounces in the bottle! I only wound up adding 196 ounces which means my batch is too strong tea and sugar wise. I figured out I could drain off 51 ounces of the new mix and add 51 oz of water and then add 13 oz of water to the stuff I poured off to make it all back to the right proportions.

    Of course, I could just leave it and let it ferment longer. I just did this on Friday so it’s been brewing for three days already.

    Should I add the water?

    • Slight variations in the quantities my have a short term effect on flavor and brewing time, but won’t damage the culture long term. We recommend brewing up your sweet tea in a separate container to the appropriate strength, then pouring it into the vessel. Any leftover can then be stored in the fridge. Give your brew a taste and decide if you need more water from there. Happy Brewin!

  19. I’m on my third batch of home brew and just realized I read the recipe wrong and wasn’t diluting the 4 cups tea to 1 cup sugar with the additional water, hence I’ve been brewing at double strength. Will this have ruined my starter liquid and soby?

    • The extra sugar may take longer to ferment. Taste frequently to determine when ready and use the correct ratio for the next batch – easy! Good reminder to read ALL the instructions 😉 Happy Brewing!

  20. Since brown sugar is simply Molasses covered in white sugar, I would gather molasses could possibly be utilized as a growth factor. I use it on all my plants, but have never experimented with fungus.

  21. Hey guys,
    Im brewing my own Kombucha at home and using all organic ingredients, except for the white sugar.
    Im wondering if the process to make the kombucha is organic then can it be called so, or does the refined white sugar make it not organic?

    cant find white sugar anywhere sold organically, is it possible?

    Thanks! xx

  22. Jack – accurate comments. While avoiding HFCS in the diet is a good idea, feeding your kombucha with it should work fine since the bacteria/yeast are going to eat whatever carbs you give them and turn them into alcohol. Although HFCS would be fine, I can’t think of a reason someone would choose it (Caro syrup) instead of cheap and easy sugar or another of the alternatives. Hannah – you do a great service with this website and I encourage revisions to avoid participating in the culture of fear-based decision making instead of thoughtful evidence-based decision making. Our culture has too much of that going on lately. Your readers would be better served if you talk about your reasons for deterring them from HFCS in a separate area than the area you talk about it’s scientific efficacy in making kombucha.

    On another note, I’m interested to try pure glucose as a sweetener to avoid any residual fructose in the final product. I also want to try molasses but will research further before I try it now that I’ve read the cautions about bacteria in honey in this post.

    Thanks for your contributions to the kombucha community!

  23. Consider the source. There is no reason to consume a highly processed food when there are many other healthier, whole food options available. Its not to say that one couldn’t ferment HFCS but rather a matter of “garbage in, garbage out.” If you are consuming Kombucha for health reasons, then there would be no reason to select a poor quality ingredient with questionable nutritional value. The only reason so much HFCS exists in the marketplace is due to the incredible amount of subsidies provided to the corn monocroppers. We need to change the way we treat our farmers at a subsidy level in order to provide them with the resources they need to grow food that provides nutritional value rather than simply growing “cheap” commodities that benefit processed food companies and no one else.

  24. Hi, I’m wondering how the ancient Chinese made booch over 2000 years ago and the first sugar refinery came into existence in the 1500’s? What do you think the Chinese originally used? They must have only had raw honey too? This question is one reason I may purchase a Jun from you.
    Thanks and I love your site. You’re awesome! I love that all kombucha people look so vibrant and dynamic. I know the reason! ; )

    • Sugar has been in use for over 5000 years. The mythology of Kombucha states that it originated in the Qin Dynasty – if at that time, it was only brewed by the Imperial Court, they would have had access to sugar. Certainly there have been other sugar sources available including sorghum syrup or sweet potato syrup. Honey may have been an option but obviously, if all of our cultures descended from an original mother, they have evolved quite differently over time due to different substrates (sugar, types of tea, etc) and conditions (local bacteria, weather conditions, etc)

      The jun culture is similar to Kombucha but unique in its way it can utilize the organisms in the raw honey. We’ve done experiments with our Kombucha cultures & Jun cultures with raw honey and the Kombucha cultures end up smelling like acetone – a sign that there is competition with the yeast taking place. The jun cultures on the other hand brew up a delicious, fragrant quaff in about 3-7 days.

  25. I’ve been brewing for a couple months now with good results, except I noticed a batch that the baby was very thin and it is day 7. I’m wondering if I forgot the sugar. Can I still add it if I push the baby aside and mix the sugar? The mother looks fine. Suggestions? Thanks.

    • Adding it now may work but could lead to an off flavored batch – Best to start over with a fresh batch that includes the sugar.

  26. I wish I would’ve read this page 2 batches ago!

    So the last 2 batches I made at the same time, forgetting the sugar. I brewed the tea, added the mother, covered and let sit. The next day I added sugar to the batches. I just opened a jar after 4 days of secondary fermentation and it doesn’t have the same characteristics of my first couple batches that had the sugar from the get-go. Are these batches still beneficial even though I added the sugar later?

    • The delay in nutrition for the yeast (i.e. sugar) has likely caused the flavor profile to be compromised. Depending on how long you brew your booch, it might create the healthy acids later in the fermentation process, however, you may or may not like the flavor at that point. Best to ditch the failed batches (while retaining enough starter for your next batches) and start fresh with ALL of the ingredients from the get go.

  27. Im not trying to be rude but this is driving me nuts to the point that I had to stop reading. Fact and factoid are not interchangeable words. I remember learning this word in school. Our teacher said to us “When you hear the word factoid what comes to mind?” after the first kid said fact another said tabloid. The teacher then informed us that he was on track. A factoid is something that is presented as a fact but is actually untrue or has no basis to support its truth.
    The way you have these presented I believe you do not mean that these are factoids but indeed fact.
    Sorry for some reason it just drives me up the wall when people misuse this word. I do mean for this to be kind enkightenment not a rude correction 🙂

  28. Hi, I’ve loved kambucha for a decade now! I must have spent thousands on the store bought stuff, but now am actually home brewing. My ratio is a bit different, I make my tea quite string and use 1/2 cup of sugar per quart. This will be my first batch and I. Don’t know if I ruined it. So far the new SCOBY has formed but no bubbles. Is it ok to drink?

  29. Thanks for all your wonderful information on kombucha! I have been brewing booch for a couple years now, but can’t seem to get the ‘kick’ and carbonation like GT Dave, and other professional brewers.

    I’m thinking about using honey for my 1st and/or 2nd fermentation. Right now I use green tea and sugar, but I’ve tried a kombucha used with honey from Cultured Pickle in Berkeley, CA. Their kombucha had a strong kick it to and was very carbonated.

    I’ve also recently read about jun, which uses green tea and honey. Jun seems to be more “boochy” and carbonated.

    Sorry for my lengthy post, but was wondering if you think using honey will improve my kombucha and which fermentation period would you use it in? Thank you for your time, I appreciate the hell out of your website!!

    • We don’t recommend raw honey in the primary fermentation for Kombucha as it does have its own colony of bacteria that may compete with the Kombucha culture. Jun is adapted to work with the bacteria present in raw honey and thus its substrate is raw honey & green tea.

      To achieve better carbonation in your booch, try these tips. Tight fitting lids, proper yeast & flavoring as well as storage methods all contribute to a delightfully carbonated booch.

      • I’ve used Raw honey for Jun in the past and it’s been great.

        I’ve restarted brewing booch and have a “raw” Jun bubbling away.

        Its round two without a mother, but the taste and activity are there. However, I’ve had MASSIVE jun scobys in the past, so it’s just a matter of getting the culture used to honey I suppose.

        I’m making my first black tea booch as I read through this site, so my time frame of reference for scoby development is… Developing.

        Good information and I love this site…

        And you can’t go wrong, having a quick turnaround on an effervescent Ginger, Lemon, “Mead.”

  30. Loving my second Kombuca journey. (I’m on my 3rd brew) My first journey was about 3-4 years ago. It ended after a couple months due to fruit flies busy life and surgery. Thrilled to be back in the game.

    My question is can I brew with maple syrup? I know it would be expensive so wouldn’t be an always thing but I bet it would taste fantastic! Or maybe even just use a little for a 2nd ferment?

    Enchanting & Enhancing Your Life!
    ☆ Rayvin Nyte ☆

    • Yes, you can brew with maple syrup and/or use it in your 2F. I find the flavor is richer in 2F as it tends to sour more quickly when used in primary fermentation. Give it a whirl & let us know what you think =)

  31. In response to the Mountain Dew comment…

    Some sodas use table sugar as a sweetener. Two examples include sodas imported from South America which are sometimes sold in American supermarkets (this is the source of glass bottled beverages, from what I’ve seen); and Monster Energy drinks. These might work. Also, a few years ago, I tried Mountain Dew and Pepsi “Throwback” editions which had old-fashioned logos and table sugar as the sweetener. G.T Dave uses lemonade as a started for one of his beverages, I think.

    • Those who have tried coconut palm sugar find that it makes the booch really sour. You can always experiment to find out for yourself – maybe you’ll like it! Post again when you have to let everyone know how it turned out.

      • I tried coconut sugar to flavour the second ferment. The first brew was made with white sugar.
        The flavour was smooth and amazing. I noticed that coconut sugar tends to produce a brown glob of yeast on top during the second fermentation….I just strain it off

  32. Hannah:
    Great site! thank you so very much for the wealth of information.
    Forgive me if you’ve covered this, but I am horribly, painfully sensitive to cane sugar. Even in kombucha. As in, instant reaction (I have a rare mast-cell condition triggered by many sugars).
    Have you had *any* luck subbing concentrated fruit juice or purees as the sugar component when creating your scoby? Right now, I spend far too much money on Synergy kombucha, which is fruit based, and am dying to make my own.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  33. Hey, I have been drinking store bought Kombucha because I’m not ready to take the plunge and make my own yet. My worry is that it has more sugar than homemade Kombucha and I’m wondering if there is a safe way to decrease the amount of sugar before I drink it. I heard that you can leave it out of the refrigerator for a few days and that’ll help it ferment more, but I’m worried that it’ll go bad if I do that. Do I have anything to worry about or can I leave my Kombucha out for a few days and then drink it until I’m ready to take the plunge and make my own?

    • The longer the KT brews, the less sugar remains. The flavor also tartens up nicely. The good thing about brewing at home is that you are in full control of the process and the KT is super fresh and tasty. Give it a try – you won’t regret it!

  34. I forgot to add sugar to my kombucha and it’s been 5 days. Can I use the same SCOBY and start over or have I completely ruined my SCOBY?

  35. I am using the continuous brew method and am loving it. So every couple days I drain 5 cups, or about 1/4 of the batch. Then I add 5 cups of fresh sweet tea to the 15 cups of kombucha that are left behind. How many tea bags and how many cups of sugar would you suggest I put in the 5 cups of sweet tea?


    • Depending on how often you top off your brewer, you can make a gallon batch of sweet tea and store the remainder in the fridge until you top off next (stays good for about a week – 10 days). Or you can scale the recipe by making 1/4 the amount of sweet tea. Since it is 1 cup of sugar and 3-5 tea bags per gallon, that would mean you need 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tea bag to make 1/4 of the sweet tea solution. Grab our recipe here if you don’t have it already.

  36. Hi…I just started a small experimental batch using date syrup for the second fermentation….so am hoping that will work. I’ve got to believe that someone out there has tried it. Any thoughts?

  37. Hi, I used about 2 cups of ‘sugar in the Raw’ in a little over a gallon of black/green tea mix. It’s been about 3 days and I see some yeast globules forming and what looks like white little bubbles forming dispersed throughout the mixture. Do you think I used too much sugar in it? I really hope it works. Should I be seeing anything else or do you think the yeast will overrun the bacteria? By the way, I did use a bottle of high country kombucha instead of a scoby(first mistake).

    • Yes – you used too much sugar. Doesn’t mean that it “won’t work” but for the long term health of your culture and to maintain proper balance between the yeast and bacteria it best to stick to 1 cup per gallon. Not to mention it will save $$ over time as you won’t be wasting resources.

  38. Hi!Hannah,I would like to know,How long can I keep my kombucha tea? Should I keep it in refrigerator? And how about the taste? Stronger? Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Nee. You can store your Kombucha indefinitely either in or out of the fridge. Kombucha never “goes bad” or spoils due to its acidic pH. Now, the flavor will continue to change in the bottle. Storing it in the fridge will slow that process down but not stop it completely. I personally enjoy bottle aged Kombucha. The longer it sits, the more of the sugars are converted into a dry, crisp flavor. YUM!

  39. Hello there,

    I just brewed my first ever batch of Kombucha 9 days ago. I realized almost immediately that I put in roughly 1/8- 1/4 cup too much sugar (I was making only 1/2 gallon while my friend was making a full gallon, and I got carried away.

    I’ve tested the booch every day since day 7 and it’s too sweet, which I figured would be the case. It looks and tastes fine otherwise, just not “done” yet. I assume I just need to give it more time to consume the extra sugar. But since I’m new to this, I would love an expert opinion. Is there anything to be concerned about?


  40. Can Fructose be used instead of cane sugar? Myfriend got mehooked on drinking kombucha, she had started her own. And i got my scoby from hers. I have made two kombucha batches with white cane sugar and both have turned out well. I like more fizziness. So when I bottle it for counter fermenting I add a small piece of dehydrated apple. This gives just enough sugar for the fizziness and the after 3 days I refrigerate it.
    I use bottles that cap securely to keep I the natural carbonation. It flatvors only slightly. My kombucha is half Ceylon/Assam and half green tea. My flavor is complex with citrus notes, pear and apple tastes. Others who taste it say is reminds them of a finer champagne because the fizz is so delicate but persistent. I’m enjoying it greatly as the health benefits have been so evident for me.

    I have a degenerating disk in my neck which causes a lot of pain in my neck, shoulders and even in my arms due to the disc location. Once I started drinking 8 oz of kombucha ea day I have had relief of this pain and reduced my chiropractor visits!
    This is winter I haven’t experienced any arthritic pain since drinking kombucha. It has been 5 weeks now. I will continue this for the rest of my life. My daughter drinks it now and has had her acid reflux cured and her yeast imbalance corrected in just 3 days . I know I will need to start two more gallons fermenting now since everyone in my home will be kombucha drinkers!

  41. Hi – I have a question. Obviously one can’t use stevia or Xylitol in the culture, but is it still ok to use either/both in other things while drinking kombucha? Or does the Xylitol especially kill the bacteria? I use both in cooking and don’t want to undo the good work of the kombucha!

  42. Hi! I have just recently found your website and I love it! I do have a question for you. You said not to use too much sugar. The person we got our SCOBY from said to use 2 cups sugar, 2 cups previous batch, and 4 tea bags when making kombucha. It tastes great but now I’m worried about I being out of balance. New SCOBY’s are forming with each batch. But is 2 cups too much?

  43. Just made my 2nd batch and the Scoby sank and is not on top. Is something wrong or will it make its way back to the top?

    • Sink or swim – it doesn’t matter where in the vessel the culture lives. The new layer ALWAYS grows across the top.

  44. I have done it already,I like it with honey, honey and cinnamon, or plain cinnamon. Even the plain cinnamon has a sweetness to it, it does not say there is any sugar in it but I wonder. Thanks.

  45. Thank you for your post; gives me a much better understanding of what happens to the sugar in kumbucha tea.

    • my family was starting to feel “under the weather” so i flavored a batch of KT with raw honey, raw shaved coconut and fresh lemon (for all of their independent health benefits). The tea was delicious and we were feeling MUCH better 2 days later, symptom free…turns out, there was a pretty nasty virus going around our town (adenovirus, which originated in one of those splash fountain play areas) and people were reportedly sick for 7-10 days… i am certain that drinking the KT and starting it early significantly reduced our symptoms and sick time! just wanted to share 🙂

  46. Linda, I read turbinado is harder for the scoby to digest also, you can use it but not with every batch.

  47. Though brewing with raw honey is not good, i assume flavoring with raw honey would not a good idea?

  48. Hi Hannah,
    I have a slight sugar cane food sensitivity. Is the sugar that remains in the KT a bi-product of the fermentation, or is it still cane sugar? I’m trying to decide if I should try out a different sugar starter or go with the tried and true on my 1st batch.

    • The sucrose molecule is broken down into glucose and fructose through the fermentation process. Try it with sugar and if you find your body cannot tolerate it, then use a different sweetener. If you have been drinking any commercial brands with no issue, then likely it isn’t adversely affecting your organisms because nearly all commercial brands are brewed with sugar. Trust YOUR gut!

  49. Oh well – I added them to today’s newly-started batch – hopefully it will be okay. Thanks for all your help!!

  50. Also – when I put my fermented batch into smaller containers to second-ferment on the counters (to get sourer/fizzier) they form a little baby on top. What should I do with these?

  51. I hope you don’t mind a question here. If I add a few mushrooms to newly brewed tea/sugar will it ferment faster?

  52. Hi, I have been making Kombucha for about a month. I brew it for a week and then put in some feozen grape juice and brew that for about 4 days. My husband wants to begin consuming it with me and he is a diabetic – can he drink it with the grape juice – if I let it ferment a while? I also have to watch my glucose, and I notice if it goes above 100. I don’t seem to be feeling any effects from the brew. Thanx in advance for your advice.

    Jill <

    • Sounds like your body is receiving the Kombucha well. Typically those who have sugar restrictions have fermented their KT until most of the sugar is converted. You might try testing your levels both before and after consuming the Kombucha to see what effect it has. Every body is different – trust your gut!

  53. I have successfully brewed my booch using Whey Low. It takes a bit longer to reach the proper ph but it tastes the same and my Whey Low mother seems just as healthy as my regular sugar booch batch.

  54. The culture consumes the sugar and converts it into healthful acids. If your body is broken, and you keep feeding it anything it can’t process (acids, enzymes, etc) an imbalance can develop.

  55. The pH strips won’t accurately measure how much sugar is present in the Kombucha. Thank you for your effort to put this info out is priceless and appreciated greatly. We had a little less sugar than I thought when brewing so I think I’ll add a little today(1 1/2 days from brew) and see if that helps it grow. Alkaline is defined as “having a pH of more than 7.” So therefore, if your body’s pH is being nudged upwards through Kombucha consumption, that would accurately be termed “Alkalinizing.” Your figure of blood pH ranging from 7.35 – 7.45 is accurate for optimum human health.

  56. Hello: We’ve been making kombucha for about 3 months, and we’re now trying to watch our sugars. Did you test yourself to see if there was a reduction in sugars? Did you test it before and after the fermentation process to see if there was a difference? If so, which instrument did you use. Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Kathy! The culture consumes the sugar and converts it into healthful acids. You can use a refractometer to detect the amount of sugar remaining in your KT. The longer you brew it, the less sugar it contains. Taste is an excellent guide. Less sugar = less sweet.

  57. Hi Indie, thanks for your comment but I think there’s a little confusion going on here.

    Alkaline is defined as “having a pH of more than 7.” So therefore, if your body’s pH is being nudged upwards through Kombucha consumption, that would accurately be termed “Alkalinizing.” Your figure of blood pH ranging from 7.35 – 7.45 is accurate for optimum human health. Even dipping to 6.95, just barely on the side of acid, can result in coma and death. Blood must be alkaline in nature.

    To your second point, I believe you are confused about the difference between the nature of Kombucha, which is acidid, versus the effect it has on your body, which is to make it Alkaline. Similar example: Lemon Juice is also acidic but causes the body to become more Alkali. The key difference is an “acid food” versus an “acid forming food.”

    This is a common misconception about how pH works in the body. Essentially, the Kombucha (and lemon juice, and other similar foods) create residue or “ash” in the body that creates alkalinity.

    Regarding acidosis, in normal healthy individuals, Kombucha will not cause acidosis. If your body is broken, and you keep feeding it anything it can’t process (acids, enzymes, etc) an imbalance can develop.

    I can see I need to do a post on pH to clarify these issues. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

    • Wow.. this is great. I have an immune disorder not yet diagnosed but I am sick almost every month with a cold/flu. I had severe mononucleosis as a child @5 years and subsequent to that in childhood suffered from strep throat++, shingles @12 years, bile attacks,impetigo,oral cold sores with frequent flu and chronic fatigue as an adult with very low energy/immunity as an adult. I have stress intolerance.. as soon as I feel stressed I seem to develop a cold or flu like illness with extremely low energy. It is very hard
      living with this as it is an invisible chronic illness and many doctors don’t want to do an exhaustive study to find the cause. I feel like a have an immune disease and am willing to try anything to live. Thank you for your effort to put this info out is priceless and appreciated greatly. God bless you.

      • Hi Shah,
        Your story sounds very familiar to me. After 36 years I have found a few things that have made a huge difference to health.
        Feel free to contact me If you like. I am not selling anything at all I can just relate to your issues.

        • I’d be most welcoming of any suggestions. I did really well on raw organic vegan (with a host of supplements) for almost a year, but money ran out. Since resuming eggs, meat, dairy, legumes and grains I’ve lost most of ground the gained and the pain is back.

          • Reduce the grains – unless they are soaked, they may be causing inflammation. Eggs, meat and dairy are nourishing choices ONLY if they are from pastured, hormone free, grass fed animals. If they are conventional, then they are packed with chemicals that cause allergies & inflammation.

      • I too am living through every word you posted here. Even worse doctors try to tell me it’s idiopathic, that can’t figure me out so they alienate me instead. So her ax nd sad to have to middle through! Kombucha is my life!

    • Based on my experience the best thing you can do is quite eating all things wheat and educate your self on round up ready crops like wheat, corn, canola, soy, sugar beats, as well as all processed factory foods engineered to get you to eat more. once you do this you won’t need your doctor or dentist anymore. o

      Once I quite wheat my teeth stopped rotting and being sensitive. Teeth do not develop cavities from the outside, they are caused by blood extracting calcium from the inside to maintain it’s ph.

  58. So glad you commented on when to add the sugar as well as if you forgot to add where and when to add it. I’m brewing a second batch which I divide into two containers (8cups in each) one container has a nice scoby growing on top. The other looks like bubbles and wants to grow but has nothing. We had a little less sugar than I thought when brewing so I think I’ll add a little today(1 1/2 days from brew) and see if that helps it grow. Any other thoughts?

  59. FYI, Sugar in the Raw and Turbinado sugar aren’t the same as evaporated cane juice. They are both refined, just not bleached and milled. Sucanat/Rapadura are whole/unrefined would be considered lateral choices to evaporated cane juice though. A great source for explaining all types of sugars (ECJ, molasses, date sugar, brown rice syrup, stevia, maple syrup, turbinado etc..) and their health benefits or lack thereof is a book called David’s Pure Vegetarian Kitchen (pages 176-178). I would recommend anyone wanting to brew to Kombucha with ECJ that’s on a budget to buy it at Costco. It’s in a green bag and has the brand Wholesome Sweeteners on it. My local Fred Meyer/Kroger as well as Winco Foods has it in the bulk, natural food bins as well.

    • Thanks for the tips Amber! I’ll have to check out that book. Yes, I buy my ECJ in bulk too – definitely saves $$

  60. I wanted to make sure I understood that evaporated cane juice, was the liquid, or thick syrup, as compared to sugar granules.
    And how much should I use in a gallon batch, or less.

    • When I say Evaporated Cane Juice, I mean in the crystalline form also known as “Sugar in the Raw”, turbinado sugar, etc. I’ve not used cane juice as a liquid but would love to hear from someone who has.

      Click the link for the best Kombucha Recipe.

    • The best way to add sugar is to stir it into your hot tea solution so that it can dissolve. This makes it easier for the culture to digest. Check out the Kombucha Recipe for the best way to make your KT nutrient solution.

  61. I’ve been buying beet sugar on a “buy local” philosophy (I live in Michigan, where beet sugar is a big product), but now the gov’t has just OKed “Roundup Ready” GMO beets. That’s the end of that! I think I will switch to Evaporated Cane Juice. You say that it’s harder for the scoby to consume. Is there anything I would do differently or need to take into account when switching sugars? Is it a longer ferment? Thanks!

    • Due to the extra minerals present in the ECJ, it takes slightly longer to ferment and the minerals that the yeast and bacteria aren’t able to break down are passed along to you in your KT. Bonus!

      • I would like to know if I need to do anything different if changing from organic sugar to coconut sugar? Will it have any adverse affects on my KT? Thank you!


        • Some people have found that it may lead to a more sour Kombucha. Taste frequently as you may need to adjust your brewing cycle accordingly.

  62. Really nice breakdown on sugar and kombucha! Put a lot of my fears to rest about making my own kombucha. It is wild that we take white sugar and black tea (two things I avoid) to make such a tasty and healthy drink.

    • I see from your blog that you are gonna start homebrewing – you go mama!!

      It is pure alchemy the way the culture works.

      • I started out homebrewing. Then discovers kombucha. I already had everything I needed! Now it’s on to making cheese. I love the science of making healthy fermented foods.

    • The pH strips won’t accurately measure how much sugar is present in the Kombucha. Check out the links in #10 above for more information on what kind of test kits are available.

      ☮ & ♥ Hannah

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