Kombucha Kamp Blog

Top 10 Questions about Sugar & Kombucha

Four piles of different types of sugar on a table: White Sugar, Evaporated Cane Juice, Brown Sugar & Demerrera.

Sugar is a wondrous, misunderstood building block of life. As nature’s perfect fuel source, it delivers efficient energy that the body can instantly utilize.

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?

Sugar & Kombucha

While you may have heard that sugar is “as addictive as cocaine”, scientists have debunked that myth. In fact, humans have evolved to crave sweet foods, and a dense source of nutrition could be a great advantage in times of famine. It’s no wonder that children may get a sweet tooth just when they need the caloric boost most, for a growth spurt.

So it seems sugar has a role in our diet and body, in the right amounts and types. (The chemicals, dyes, and other unnatural ingredients often packaged alongside sugar are probably worse.) When it comes to Kombucha, the small amounts of residual sugar left behind helps make the healthy acids palatable. And that sugar is mostly broken down already, easier for the body to process.

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.

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!KMAMMA SEZ…
A decade or two (or five!) of toxic chemical consumption will eventually take its toll. As a young 20 something, I enjoyed taking my alcohol with lots of sugar. Dessert was my favorite meal. Snacks took their toll. But then something funny happened when Kombucha came into my life. 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*. In fact, I make the same “sour face” that newbies make when tasting overly sweet things – so disgusting how can anyone eat something this sweet! This is one of the greatest Kombucha benefits I have experienced.

Packages of Fun Dip, candy sticks dipped in sugar, by Wonka candies.

Sugar stick dipped in sugar? “Absolutely!” was my answer before Kombucha.

So let’s ask Wiki before we start. 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. Sugar has been cultivated by humans for 8,000 years and was considered medicinal in the 1st century AD by the Greeks and Romans.

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.

Yes. But the good news is that 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, at least most of it. 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. It may be possible to use as little as ¾ cup or as much as 1.5 cups per gallon and have successful brews.

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.
  • Maple Syrup – A “high-octane” option, use just 1/2 to 2/3 cup per gallon. Also make sure it is real 100% maple syrup, no pancake brands with corn syrup added.
  • Honey – A wonderful choice but DO NOT USE RAW. The bacteria will disturb the Kombucha SCOBY balance and could brew up a dangerous concoction. (Note: For RAW HONEY Brews, try JUN!)

Experimental Brews Only – These sugars can cause issues, try them with an extra culture from your SCOBY Hotel to see if they work for you: Molasses, Coconut Water, Coconut Sugar, Liquid Cane Juice, Invert Sugar, Agave (must be blended with regular sugar)

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 then present in the Kombucha.

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.

(*Note: you can use anything to flavor Kombucha, including these sugars, after the batch is brewed and the SCOBY(s) and starter liquid have been removed. Just don’t add them to the first ferment.)

BONUS FACT:

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

6. Is it okay to combine multiple types of sugar 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 do the job 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 few days, 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.

If it’s been longer than a few days, the results may be more hit and miss. The longer the batch has been without sugar, the more likely it is best to simply toss it and start over with a new culture and liquid from your SCOBY Hotel. That said, if you only have one SCOBY, keep it and give it a try!

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 remains in my brew?

Yes! You can use a refractometer to measure the amount of sucrose dissolved in the solution. Refractometers measure the amount of sugar in degrees Brix. One degree Brix is equivalent to 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution. This tool is often used in several industries where knowing the strength of the sweetness of the product is vital such as in the wine, fruit juice and honey industries, as well as by commercial Kombucha producers. It also measures nutrient density in vegetables and fruits – the higher the Brix, the more nutrients present.

There are two types of refractometers – analog & digital. The basic concept is that the amount of sugar in a solution causes light to bend at different angles. In the analog version, we add the Kombucha to the device and hold it up to a light source. Determine the reading by where the meniscus (top edge of the liquid) touches the scale. We prefer to use the Digital Refractometer because it eliminates potential for human error.

Sugars Can be Hard to Measure

Keep in mind when testing Brix that the number will not always go down immediately. As the sugar aka sucrose is split into its monosaccharide components – fructose & glucose – the numbers will actually be higher, later in the process when more of the sugars are converted, the number will drop. A refractometer is not sensitive enough to measure individual types of sugars expressed in the Kombucha. The presence of yeast, acids, and other elements can also potentially distort readings.

For homebrewers, we generally do not recommend worrying about measuring the sugar as our tastebuds do an expert job of indicating the right balance of sweet and sour. The longer you ferment, the lower the sugar, but a little balances the flavor, so don’t let it go too long. Trust YOUR gut!

If it gets really sour, start a SCOBY Hotel with it or use it as Kombucha Vinegar!

—————————

Have any other questions about sugar?

Experimented with types and combinations and want to share your knowledge?

Leave a comment below!

Check Out These Related Posts & Pages!

104 Comments

  • Marisa

    April 25, 2022 at 6:53 am

    Does the sugar continue to metabolize after bottling? I’m asking because I’m using a semi-continuous process, and even though I added 3.5 quarts of new tea to a little bit of kombucha at the bottom of my kombucha tap jar, it is already at the Ph level I like to drink it at, so that leads me to ask: can I bottle it (it’s been 24 ours, I could wait 24 more) and then will the sugar continue to metabolize after bottling?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 13, 2022 at 10:56 am

      Yes, albeit at a slower rate especially if it is being stored in the fridge. At room temp, it will metabolize faster than the fridge, yet slower than when exposed to oxygen (ie with a cloth cover). Taste is more important than pH and if it sours too quickly, that’s a sign to clean out the brewer to refresh the batch.

      Reply
  • Cat

    April 9, 2021 at 3:05 am

    Can I use Inulin since it is fermentable but low sugar?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 16, 2021 at 2:49 pm

      Give it a try with an extra culture from your SCOBY Hotel – let us know how it turns out!

      Reply
    • Karen

      August 2, 2021 at 3:41 am

      How did the inulin work out? Did it ferment properly?

      Reply
  • Ernesto

    January 19, 2021 at 7:30 am

    Saludos, se puede hacer kombucha en un barril de madera como los utilizados en las destilerias?

    Reply
  • Aaron

    January 2, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    If the Booch bacteria feeds off of sugar, is that a good bacteria to have in your gut? From my understanding, your gut bacteria can influence your cravings. So I am curious if this bacteria would increase that, and in turn not being as great as we think. Or am I way off?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      February 20, 2021 at 9:07 am

      Kombucha actually does the opposite and curbs cravings for sugar. The acids rebalance the pH of the gut to improve digestion and in turn reduce cravings for both sugar and alcohol. Try drinking it daily and see for yourself!

      Reply
  • Mickalls

    November 9, 2020 at 3:32 am

    Hi
    I am used to brewing beer and use a hydrometer to measure the sugar content of the liquid. Can you please tell me what you think the specific gravity of a brewed out batch should be. My scoby does not seem to be eating much sugar although it tastes quite tart. I have brewed the batch down to 1.30 mg but it doesn’t seem to want to go lower. This is still quite a l;ot of sugar in the brew
    Thanks

    Reply
  • best kombucha

    April 16, 2020 at 8:32 am

    i absolutely love the site thanks for this 🙂

    Reply
  • Marty

    March 1, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    Next week I will start my 300th gallon of kombucha. Each Sunday I start 3 individual glass jars, ferment 10 days. Every Wednesday I combine the 3 gallons iinto a 5 gallon bucket for uniformity and bottle. Works well. I carbonate for 3 days then refrigerate.

    Reply
  • Tina

    January 23, 2020 at 10:03 am

    would you use monk fruit sugar for a 2nd fermentation, or only to supplement another sugar?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      February 13, 2020 at 2:35 pm

      2F only as it is not fermentable in primary. You can supplement with other flavorings or sweeteners if you desire.

      Reply
  • Ellen

    June 2, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Can I use maple syrup instead of sugar when making kombucha?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      August 27, 2019 at 11:15 am

      Yes – though since it is “higher octane” we advise using 1/2-2/3 cup of maple syrup per gallon. Also taste frequently as the additional minerals will cause it to sour more quickly.

      Reply
  • Hannah Crum

    May 24, 2019 at 9:10 am

    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.

    Reply
  • Purak

    March 19, 2019 at 3:06 am

    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

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      March 29, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      We always dissolve the sugar and enjoy wonderful results. Try it both ways and see what works best for you.

      Reply
  • Josh

    February 27, 2019 at 10:09 am

    I read this article it was great. I also read the article about Types of sugar (https://www.kombuchakamp.com/what-is-kombucha/kombucha-mushroom-tea-brewing-safety-tips/types-of-sugar-to-use-for-brewing-kombucha). 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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      March 10, 2019 at 5:49 pm

      Some have used dextrose (corn sugar) as a nutrient medium. Let us know how it turns out!

      Reply
      • Sonia

        April 20, 2019 at 8:13 pm

        I’ve been using dextrose for my kombucha brew for about six months now. I prefer the tasts, especially for something like ginger beer – it makes a very dry brew. If you like your flavours to have bite, without sourness, dextrose is great.

        Reply
        • Kim

          September 12, 2020 at 4:58 pm

          Have you tried to make it with a combo of dextrose and fructose, rather than sucrose?

          Also, is the dextrose only still working?

          How do you know when it is off?

          I’ve never made it before, but I’d love to start, but am afraid to start since I can’t use sucrose, or for that matter, most sweeteners.

          Any info would be great! Thank you!

          Reply
  • Debra Turner

    January 19, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      February 5, 2019 at 5:13 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • Patty Cheek

    December 29, 2018 at 11:07 am

    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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      January 4, 2019 at 7:30 am

      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.

      Reply
  • Patricia

    February 18, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Hi. My question is can I use frozen fruit to flavor my kombucha and if so, how do I use it?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      June 28, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • Debbie Smith

    December 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    QUESTION: Will Monk Fruit sweetener work?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 8, 2019 at 7:49 am

      Monk fruit & stevia are not fermentable sugars. They can be used to sweeten a sour Kombucha but are not suitable for primary fermentation.

      Reply
  • Tarin

    November 5, 2017 at 8:03 am

    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!

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      January 4, 2019 at 7:36 am

      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.

      Reply
  • Dee

    October 24, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    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.

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      July 7, 2018 at 9:52 am

      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.

      Reply
  • Kathleen

    October 15, 2017 at 10:55 am

    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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      July 7, 2018 at 9:51 am

      Probably best to scrap that batch and start over. It probably is salvageable if you have no other SCOBYs but if you can simply restart that would be best.

      Reply
  • Jill

    July 10, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    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?

    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 17, 2018 at 9:55 am

      It will take longer to ferment than usual – taste it from time to time and just use the correct amount for the next batch.

      Reply
  • arun

    June 19, 2017 at 11:24 am

    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?
    thanks
    arun

    Reply
  • Pat

    June 7, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    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.

    Reply
  • Joshua

    June 5, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    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??

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 14, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • al

    May 15, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    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.

    Reply
  • Rohan

    January 4, 2016 at 12:14 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      January 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Yes, glucose works and will provide additional fuel for the “g” acids (gluconic, glucuronic) – Happy Brewing!

      Reply
  • steven

    August 10, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      August 11, 2015 at 7:21 am

      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!

      Reply
  • Ivy

    August 3, 2015 at 11:54 am

    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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      August 3, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • oatstao

    June 20, 2015 at 10:50 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      July 9, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      If by fungus you mean yeast, then yes, by all means do experiment with it! We find that the higher mineral content causes it to sour quickly so taste frequently to find the flavor you enjoy most.

      Reply
  • Brigitte

    May 22, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    I accidentally put 4 cups of sugar. Should I discard the entire batch???

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      No need to discard, but it may take longer to ferment.

      Reply
  • Justine

    April 16, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      April 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • Oksana

    March 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      March 23, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Sounds like too much sugar is causing the yeast to not function properly. If you want a sweeter tasting Kombucha, simply ferment for a shorter period of time. Here is an article on carbonation to help get more fizz.

      Reply
  • Malina Kaczma

    February 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    I feel much stronger and less sleepy since I start to drink Kombucha (2 Mo.)

    Reply
  • Rayvin Nyte

    October 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    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 ☆

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      October 28, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      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 =)

      Reply
  • JB

    September 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Has anyone tried using Coconut Palm Sugar? Is that *much* harder for the SCOBY to digest?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      September 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      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.

      Reply
      • Cal

        February 22, 2016 at 11:06 pm

        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

        Reply
  • Carol

    August 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    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.
    Cheers!
    Carol

    Reply
  • Meg

    July 30, 2013 at 9:16 am

    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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      August 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • Krusty

    July 25, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    What a great post, appreciate the info (clear and concise). Much thanks!

    Reply
  • Jennifer

    June 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      June 18, 2013 at 1:50 am

      Go ahead and add it now. Then give it some more time to grow.

      Reply
  • Kathryn Arnold

    June 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    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.

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      June 18, 2013 at 1:02 am

      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.

      Reply
  • Jennifer

    April 24, 2013 at 10:11 am

    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?

    Thanks!!!

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      April 28, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • Izzy Ortiz

    March 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Is it okay to add sugar during flavoring/the second fermentation phase, if so how much?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      March 31, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Yes. Add it to taste. Start with a pinch and increase from there.

      Reply
  • stew

    February 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    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).

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      February 11, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • NEE

    January 23, 2013 at 9:11 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      January 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      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!

      Reply
      • NEE

        January 30, 2013 at 11:32 am

        Can I put more sugar to keep the taste? Thank you very much..cheers!

        Reply
        • Hannah Crum

          February 12, 2013 at 12:06 am

          You may add sugar to your glass of KT just as you would to sweeten a glass of iced or hot tea.

          Reply
  • Rachel

    January 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    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?

    Thanks!
    Rachel,

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      January 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm

      Yes, give the culture some time to convert all of the sugar. Your tongue will tell you when it is ready!

      Reply
  • Krystyna

    December 18, 2012 at 2:41 am

    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!

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      December 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Yes, you can sweeten your Kombucha the same way you sweeten your iced tea!

      Reply
  • Jill

    April 14, 2012 at 5:04 am

    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 <

    Reply
    • hannah

      April 14, 2012 at 8:32 am

      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!

      Reply
  • Christina

    July 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    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?

    Reply
  • Eddie

    April 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    What is the best way to add sugar? I’ve just been dumping it on top. Is it better to stir into the liquid?

    Reply
    • hannah

      April 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

      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.

      Reply
  • Jeanne

    March 12, 2011 at 9:34 am

    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!

    Reply
    • hannah

      March 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      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!

      Reply
      • Tracy

        May 27, 2014 at 9:32 am

        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!

        Tracy

        Reply
        • Hannah Crum

          May 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

          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.

          Reply
  • Genevieve Mama Natural

    March 1, 2011 at 8:55 am

    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.

    Reply
    • hannah

      March 1, 2011 at 10:18 am

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

      It is pure alchemy the way the culture works.

      Reply
  • Alina

    February 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I have some ph strips. Is it possible to find out how much sugar is in my kombucha based on the ph level?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • hannah

      February 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      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

      Reply

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