Learn how to make kombucha without sugar (or almost!) thanks to these 6 tips!
Kombucha is a beverage made from fermented sweet tea. During fermentation, the microorganisms in the kombucha scoby consume a good part of this sugar. However, there is always some sugar left in the kombucha that you drink.
No worries! Homemade kombucha contains considerably less sugar than commercial carbonated beverages or fruit juices.
Sugar content of various beverages (per 250ml):
- Traditional homemade kombucha: 12g
- vitaminwater®: 12g
- Cow’s milk: 14g
- Coconut water: 14g
- Energy drink: 15g+
- 100% apple juice: 25g
- Carbonated beverage: 27g+
A traditional homemade kombucha therefore generally contains 2 to 3 times less sugar than fruit juice or carbonated beverage.
Nevertheless, for health reasons, many fermenters are looking for techniques to reduce the amount of sugar in their kombucha.
This article provides 6 tips on how to reduce sugar both during fermentation and when enjoying it.
For a less sweet kombucha, you can increase the fermentation time, the temperature, and/or the dilution. However, be careful not to reduce too much the amount of sugar added at the beginning!
1. Reduce the Amount of Sugar When Making Kombucha
First of all, sugar is essential for making kombucha. Sugar acts as food for yeast and bacteria. Without sugar, there is no fermentation!
However, it is possible to slightly reduce the initial amount of sugar. As a reference, our traditional kombucha recipe requires 200 g (1 cup) of sugar for 3L of kombucha.
To reduce the amount of sugar to be added, you can go as low as 150g (¾ cup) of sugar for 3L of kombucha, but no less!
If you don’t like sugar, you can use maple syrup, like in our local kombucha recipe. Otherwise, try jun, a kombucha made with honey.
Sugar content (per 250ml): ~10g*
2. Allow the Kombucha to Ferment Longer
To reduce the residual sugar in the kombucha, it can be left to ferment longer than usual. This gives the microorganisms time to consume more sugar.
If kombucha is usually drunk after 10 to 15 days of fermentation, the fermentation can be stretched to reduce the sugar.
However, the less sugar, the more vinegary the taste. It’s up to you to find a balance between the amount of sugar you are looking for and the taste you like!
Sugar content (per 250ml): 2-10g*
See also: How to Measure Sugar in Kombucha? and our Sugar-Free Kombucha Recipe.
3. Ferment Kombucha at Higher Temperatures
Heat increases the speed of kombucha fermentation. Higher temperatures stimulate the yeast activity, which then consumes the sugar faster. High temperatures also have the advantage of slowing down acidification.
Aim for temperatures between 27°C and 35°C (81F-95°F). Do not exceed 38°C (101°F), or the kombucha scoby may suffer.
Another option is to follow the recipe for boozy kombucha, which is naturally less sweet than traditional kombucha.
Sugar content (per 250ml): 7.5-10g*
4. Use Kombucha as Vinegar
Did you know that in the past, kombucha was only consumed as vinegar? Similar to apple cider vinegar, it was appreciated for its benefits and taste. Its sweeter, fizzy version is relatively recent.
Kombucha vinegar is obtained after a long fermentation process of at least 70 days. The kombucha then becomes very acidic but also packed with fermented antioxidants and powerful organic acids.
Just like cider vinegar “gut shots”, you may want to take a small shot of kombucha vinegar in the morning to get your day off to a good start.
Sugar content (per 250ml): 0-2.5g*
5. Flavour Kombucha With Herbs or Infusions
There are several techniques for flavouring homemade kombucha. To limit the amount of sugar added to our beverage, we avoid using naturally sweet ingredients, such as juices and syrups.
Instead, use herbal teas, herbs or spices to enhance the flavour of the kombucha. The more you add, the more you will reduce the amount of sugar in the kombucha.
Learn more about flavouring your fermented beverages with wild herbs.
Sugar content (per 250ml): 5-10g*
6. Dilute the Kombucha Before Drinking It
If you don’t want to wait 2 months before consuming your kombucha, or if you are not fond of drinking vinegar from a spoon, the easiest option is to dilute the kombucha before drinking it.
Combine the kombucha with the herbal tea or tea of your choice. You can also use fizzy water to enhance the effervescence.
The result is a delicious beverage with half the sugar, but with all the benefits of kombucha.
Sugar content (per 250ml): 2-10g*
* Sugar content is approximate. Temperature, fermentation time, ingredients, container shape, and quality of the kombucha scoby will affect the result.