Kombucha, the trendy fermented tea beverage, has taken the health and wellness world by storm in recent years. But as with any popular food or drink, there are bound to be questions and concerns about its nutrition content.
One of the most pressing questions for health-conscious consumers and patient of mine is whether kombucha contains sugar. So, I looked up all the facts of kombucha and compiled all the facts including whether it contains sugar.
Kombucha contains sugar because it provides the necessary food for the bacteria and yeast to ferment the tea producing a tangy, slightly sweet tasting drink. During the fermentation process, the bacteria and yeast consume most of the sugar, but some residual sugar remains in the final product.
The amount of sugar in kombucha can vary depending on the recipe and length of fermentation, but most commercial brands contain around 2-6 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving.
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented, sweetened tea drink consumed for its various health benefits.
Kombucha was first brewed in China, and then spread to Japan and Russia. It became popular in Europe and spread to the United States because of its reputation as a health and energy drink.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is made by adding a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast to sweetened tea, known as SCOBY. The bacteria and yeast ferment and consume the sugar in the tea, producing a variety of organic acids, vitamins, and probiotics, which give kombucha its distinct flavor and effervescence or “fizziness.”
What is SCOBY?
The vinegar in your recipe creates a SCOBY, which is the acronym for “Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast.” It digests the sugar present in your tea to form the SCOBY.
The original SCOBY you use during your first preparation process is called the “mother.” A healthy SCOBY will grow new layers that can be peeled off to use as your next SCOBY in your new batch. These “babies” can be separated when they are about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick.
Is it ok for Diabetics to Drink Kombucha?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that kombucha is considered safe when prepared properly.
Some sources recommend buying your first SCOBY kit before you make your own to see if you have any adverse effects (rare). It is cheaper to make your own in the long run.
I personally recommend checking her blood sugars while drinking your tea to see if it helps improve your blood glucose control. You may wish to keep a blood sugar log to document your experience.
Supporters claim that it helps prevent and treat health conditions, such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugars) in diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and cancer. But there is limited data on kombucha tea according to the Mayo Clinic.
How Much Sugar Is In Kombucha?
Homemade kombucha has approximately 2-6 g of sugar per 8 ounces (250 mL or 1 cup). The culture of bacteria and yeast in your product will feed off the sugars and will convert them to probiotic, antioxidants, and vitamins. This process is known as fermentation.
Kombucha vs Other Soft Drinks (Sugar Levels)
Homemade kombucha contains less sugar than many healthful beverages.
For comparison, consider the following:
- Gatorade has 12 g of sugar
- Some flavored vitamin water contains 12-32 g of sugar
- 8 oz orange juice contains 21 g of sugar
- 8 oz apple juice drink has over 32 g of sugar
How Do You Make Kombucha?
- 1 SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 4-5 tea bags (black, green, white, oolong, or a mix)
- 1 gallon of filtered water
- 1 glass or ceramic container (at least 1-gallon capacity)
- A breathable cloth (cheesecloth, coffee filter or tea towel)
- A rubber band
- Boil water in a large pot and add tea bags. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Then remove tea bags.
- Stir in sugar until completely dissolved.
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
- Add the SCOBY to the cooled tea mixture.
- Pour the tea and SCOBY into the glass or ceramic container.
- Cover the container with a breathable cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
- Store the container in a warm, dark place where it won’t be disturbed for 7-12 days.
- After 7-12 days, taste the kombucha. If it’s too sweet, let it ferment longer. If it’s too sour, ferment for a shorter period next time.
- Once the kombucha reaches your desired level of fermentation, remove the SCOBY and set it aside in a jar with some of the liquid to use for your next batch.
- Pour the remaining kombucha into bottles and store in the fridge. Enjoy your homemade kombucha.
Note: Be sure to keep all equipment and utensils clean and sanitized to avoid contamination. Also, be cautious with the fermentation time and temperature as it can affect the taste and quality of the kombucha.
Is There Any Tea I Shouldn’t Use When Making Kombucha?
People brew with Earl Grey tea, but one source mentions that Earl Grey tea is flavored with bergamot oil, which may have long-term consequences for your culture. That is oil has added bacterial effects, which may damage your SCOBY.
Other flavored teas may contain artificial flavoring that can alter the fermentation process. The artificial flavoring and some cheese contain antibacterial properties that will kill your SCOBY.
How Do You Make Low Sugar Kombucha?
The fermenting process for making kombucha at home takes about 7 to 12 days. To produce a product with lower sugar content, allow your kombucha to ferment longer, 15 days or more. Note that the flavor of your product will change, the longer it ferments.
Benefits of Kombucha
- Contains both probiotics and water. This can help move food through your digestive track.
- Fermented beverages can reduce hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes . A 2022 study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reveals kombucha may play a role in reducing blood sugar.
- Contains organic acids and probiotics. This has been shown to improve the balance of the skin; improves skin hydration.
- Can help prevent excess bloating and gas. This is because it contains live bacteria, which is known to help with digestive issues.
- Can help detoxify the liver. This is because it is high in glucaric acid, which helps the liver detoxify. Glucaric acid binds to toxins and helps push them out.
- Can improve immune function. Kombucha is loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidants may help you reduce your risk for certain diseases, like cancer.
- Helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Does Kombucha Have Caffeine?
Kombucha is traditionally made with black, green, white, or oolong tea leaves, all of which contain naturally occurring caffeine. The amount of caffeine is minimal (~15 mg) and is hardly noticeable. In fact, some people use kombucha to help him fall asleep.
Does Kombucha Need To Be Refrigerated?
Kobucha should be refrigerated at all times, even if your container is not open. It contains live cultures that will continue to ferment if it is left out of the fridge.
How Long Can Kombucha Be Unrefrigerated?
Kombucha is a live probiotic product. It should stay refrigerated between 34° – 38°F (1.1°C – 3.3°C).
Kombucha is unpasteurized and raw. This means that it contains all of the healthy bacteria that is good for us. If your kombucha is left out of the fridge for too long, it will continue to ferment. (Live bacteria will continue to feed off of the sugar if it is not refrigerated.)
According to kombucha coach.com, it is unlikely that your kombucha will go “bad.” It will start to taste more sour if it is left unrefrigerated for about a week. This depends on the room temperature. The warmer it is outside of the refrigerator, the faster it will ferment and turn sour. Some people prefer an “aged” kombucha.
However, when you are preparing your kombucha and allowing the fermentation process to take place, it is advised to leave everything at room temperature. If you refrigerate your kombucha before the fermentation process is completed, the process can not take place.
Who Should Not Drink Kombucha?
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women. Kombucha is unpasteurized, and it contains small amounts of alcohol and caffeine.
- People with alcohol abuse or dependency, as kombucha contains alcohol.
- People with impaired immune systems.
- Anyone who has kidney or liver disease.
Risks of Taking Kombucha
- Making kombucha at home involves growing bacteria in something you are going to drink. It contains bacteria and probiotics. If it is not prepared properly, harmful mold can grow.
Kombucha is a healthy and safe beverage for people with diabetes to drink. As mentioned, the FDA states that kombucha is safe when properly prepared. Always make sure everything is sanitary, including your equipment and your hands. Using glass, stainless steel, or plastic containers is recommended.
Thanks for stopping by my Dealing With Diabetes blog! My name is LeeAnna.