How to Measure Sugar in Kombucha?

Want to know how many grams of sugar are hidden in your homemade kombucha? You can do it right from your kitchen with a little tool called a refractometer.

In this article, we will learn how to use it to calculate the amount of sugar in your homemade kombucha!

How Much Sugar Is in Kombucha?

Regular homemade kombucha has about 12g of sugar per 250ml (1 cup), or 46g per liter. When compared to other beverages, homemade kombucha contains less sugar.

Amount of sugar in 250ml (1 cup) of:

  • Regular homemade kombucha: 12g
  • Vitamin water: 12g
  • Cow’s milk: 14g
  • Coconut water: 14g
  • Energy drink: 15g+
  • Apple juice 100%: 25g
  • Soda: 27g+.

Note: these quantities may vary from one product to another.

If you wish to measure how much sugar is in your homemade kombucha, you can use a nifty tool called a refractometer.

Refractometer to measure how much sugar is in kombucha

A Tool to Measure Sugar Content

A refractometer is used to measure the concentration of a particular substance within a solution. In this case, it can be used to measure how much sugar is in your kombucha.

When a drop of kombucha is placed on the lens of the device, the line displays a refractive index in Brix. This value tells us how many grams of sugar are in our drink.

1 Brix = 1% sugar (1g of sugar per 100ml of kombucha)

In the imperial system, 1 Brix is ½ tsp of sugar per cup of kombucha.

The higher the Brix, the higher the sugar concentration in the kombucha. It’s that simple!

Why not use a hydrometer?

The alternative to the refractometer, the hydrometer (or densimeter), commonly used in the brewing and wine production industries, is unfortunately unsuitable for measuring the sugar content in kombucha.

This instrument is not a viable option due to its sensitivity to suspended particles present in kombucha. These particles tend to significantly distort the results obtained with a hydrometer.

As a result, it is not recommended to use a hydrometer to assess the sugar content in kombucha, due to its limitations and the risk of obtaining inaccurate results.

How to Use a Refractometer?

To calculate the sugar content in kombucha, choose a refractometer with a scale between 0 and 32° Brix.

  1. Place a drop of kombucha on the refractometer lens.
  2. Look through the refractometer.
  3. Note the number on the blue line.
  4. Calculate the amount of sugar in your kombucha according to the formula: 1 Brix = 1g of sugar per 100ml of liquid.

Always calibrate your refractometer with tap water before using it.

Note: refractometers are calibrated for liquids at a certain temperature (usually 20°C). If the liquid is warmer or colder, the data may be inaccurate.

Examples of Calculations

If your refractometer reads 5 Brix, that means you have 5% sugar in your kombucha.

To find out how many grams that is for a given volume, calculate 5% of the kombucha volume (in ml).

1L of kombucha at 5 Brix: 5% x 1000ml = 50g of sugar (4 tablespoons)

250ml kombucha at 6 Brix: 6% x 250ml = 15g sugar (3 teaspoons)

Kombucha can have different sugar contents depending on fermentation times and several other factors.

You can now easily and quickly calculate the sugar content of your kombucha!

Please note that these measurements are approximate. However, this is the most accessible way to measure the amount of sugar in homemade kombucha, even though refractometers are not entirely reliable for evaluating the sugar content of kombucha, as they do not take into account the simultaneous presence of alcohol, acetic acid, and sugar in the beverage. There are more accurate alternatives for measuring the sugar content of kombucha, but they are generally only usable in a professional laboratory setting.

Want to reduce the sugar content of your kombucha? Check out our 6 Tips for Making (Almost) Sugar-Free Kombucha and try our Sugar-Free Kombucha Recipe

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