Your most asked kombucha questions answered. Does kombucha go bad? Is it supposed to smell funny? How do you know when it’s ready to drink? Does is have caffeine in it? It can be overwhelming when you’re getting started with this fermented drink. Let me help answer some of your questions.
First of all, what IS Kombucha?
Kombucha is a delicious drink that’s been around for thousands of years. It’s made of tea, sugar, yeast and a symbiotic culture of bacteria or SCOBY for short.
Kombucha has a long standing reputation for being a health drink dating back to ancient Chinese medicine.
Fermented foods and drinks like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir all have similar health benefits for the digestive system because they are rich in probiotics.
Here are seven health benefits specific to kombucha according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- Strong antioxidant.
- Decreases inflammation in the body.
- It’s filled with B vitamins, which give you energy.
- It has a handful of essential minerals and organic acids, which are antimicrobial and will fight yeast infections.
- It promotes detoxification by helping with liver function.
- Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar.
- It decreases chances of developing cancer.
What are the health risks of kombucha?
Because of a lack of scientific research, people who have a compromised immune system or other serious health issues should avoid drinking kombucha.
Allergic reactions are also a possibility especially if you’re new to fermented foods.
In extreme cases drinking too much can cause acid buildup which may cause more serious medical problems.
May cause upset stomach and nausea.
How long does kombucha last?
This is a really good question without a real concrete answer. Kombucha is not a finicky drink. Storing it at the right temperature will dictate how long it lasts.
Homemade kombucha will last a long time when stored in the refrigerator. It actually won’t ever REALLY go bad due to the active cultures and yeast. However, If it really worries you and for optimal taste drink it within six months of bottling the final product.
A store bought bottle of kombucha will have an expiration date printed on the bottom of the bottle, but most unopened kombucha bottles have a pretty long shelf-life and will last a lot longer than the printed date when stored in a cool, dark place.
How can I make it last longer?
Add fruit scraps or two or three tablespoons of your favorite juice. The sugar from the fruit or juice will keep feeding the yeast and good bacteria.
Additionally, keeping it in the refrigerator will keep it good for a few months. This goes for homemade or store bought kombucha, unless of course the manufacturer says otherwise.
How can you tell if kombucha has gone bad?
An obvious sign of spoilage will be visible mold growth or little fuzzy hair like things on the surface of the SCOBY or on the rim of the bottle. Don’t go purely off smell though because kombucha already has a vinegary smell. In addition if it has an extremely sour or tart taste, it doesn’t mean it has gone bad, it just means it’s been over fermented.
Over fermented kombucha still has many uses besides drinking so don’t throw it out.
What can I use over fermented kombucha for?
Over fermented kombucha basically turns into vinegar when left fermenting too long.
You can use it in DIY cleaners that call for vinegar.
Add apple scraps to it and turn it into homemade apple cider vinegar.
After you’ve been making kombucha at home for some time you will see how quickly the SCOBY’s reproduce. They practically double in size with every batch. You can use an over fermented batch as a SCOBY hotel if you want to take a break from brewing or to share with a friend.
I have even used over fermented kombucha as a garden snake repeller! But that’s a story for another day.
How to make kombucha at home.
- Bring 4 cups of filtered water to a boil, then turn off heat.
- Add 3 Tbs. of loose leaf organic black tea or 6 tea bags, and steep for 8-10 minutes. Discard tea after.
- Add 1 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Pour the sweet tea into a one gallon glass jar and add 8 cups of cold filtered water.
- After the tea is cooled down and is at room temperature, add the SCOBY with its starter liquid.
- Cover the jar with a cotton cloth and seal with a rubber band.
- Place the gallon jar in a warm dark place for 10-12 days. The pantry or a cupboard will work.
What supplies do I need to make kombucha at home?
Most of what you will need, you most likely already have in your kitchen. A small pot to boil water in, measuring spoons, a wooden spoon, and a cotton kitchen cloth.
Why isn’t my kombucha fizzy?
The secret to getting that fizz in your home brew is in the second ferment step. After the initial ten to twelve day fermentation process. cover the jar with an airtight lid and let it sit for an additional two to four days tasting it as you go until you have the desired amount of fizz
Can I use green tea instead of black tea to make kombucha?
The short answer is yes. You can make kombucha out of green tea but some kombucha experts will argue that while it’s completely fine to use green tea every once in a while, it is better for the health of the SCOBY to use black tea more regularly. The caffeine in black tea helps the SCOBY thrive and reproduce.
Green tea has a lot of great health benefits too so I think it’s perfectly fine to use it every once in a while.
Can kombucha turn into alcohol?
If you brew your own kombucha and it over ferments, it will have some alcohol content but it’s a very small percentage. Too small to notice and nothing that will get you tipsy. Store bought kombucha is labeled as a non alcoholic drink.
Does it have caffeine?
It does have a minimal amount of caffeine because of the tea leaves used to make it. There’s about the same amount of caffeine in one regular bottle of kombucha as there is in a decaf cup of coffee.
Is it high in sugar?
White sugar is an important ingredient in Kombucha but during fermentation, the yeast feeds on it leaving a very little amount left in the finished product.
Alrighty, I hope this answered all your questions concerning kombucha. If there is something else that I didn’t address here please leave it down in the comments section and I will make sure to add it to the post soon.
I hope this gives you the confidence to start brewing your own kombucha at home. It will save you so much money over buying it at the grocery store or famers market. Plus, Kombucha is the perfect replacement for soda or juice if you’re trying to find a healthier alternative.