Many fad diets are recognized in the past years due to their high sugar content. Sugar is one of the most controversial condiments in the health space. Though loved by many, sugar is one of the culprits behind sugar addiction, weight gain, and chronic diseases like diabetes. So, it’s only natural for the health-conscious to be curious about how much sugar is in kombucha.
Before you start raising an eyebrow about the sugar in kombucha, it pays to know the role of sugar in kombucha and why it is a necessary part of the fermentation process.
The role of sugar in kombucha
In brewing kombucha, sugar is usually mixed with tea and added to the starter culture. Sugar is the food of yeast that keeps them active throughout the fermentation process. The yeast will then produce ethanol that will feed the bacteria and turn them into acid.
Without sugar, the starter culture will have nothing to convert and the yeast and bacteria will die out of starvation. The only way to keep the sugar low in kombucha is to ferment it for longer than two weeks to give time for the yeast to consume more sugar. However, you should also expect that the taste of your kombucha will become more acidic or sour, close to vinegar.
Hard kombucha is the alcoholic type of kombucha where the starter culture is fed with more sugar to increase its alcohol level. It also takes longer to ferment than the usual kombucha that you drink.
Q: How much sugar is in kombucha?
Sugar in most homebrewed kombucha is around 2g to 6g in every 8 oz. serving. It has 10% to 30% less sugar than a bottle of fruit juice and soda. Commercially available kombucha may contain added sugars due to their flavoring, resulting in 3g to 25g sugar content. So, most homebrewers who prefer to control their sugar intake brew their booch at home.
Though kombucha is a low-sugar alternative to soda and other sugary drinks, you should always check the label for added sugars, especially for flavored varieties.
During the fermentation period, a gallon of tea will require 1 cup of sugar. You may lessen it to ¾ cup if you want to control the sugar content but you should go beyond to avoid jeopardizing the fermentation process.
In the optimal fermentation process, the final taste of your booch should be sour with a hint of sweetness. If the brew is still sweet after two weeks, there must be some problem with the brewing temperature or the SCOBY needs to be replaced.
The presence of too much sugar in a brew is a magnet for mold. The acids produced by the bacteria after feeding on ethanol help make kombucha acidic enough to kill the mold spores. So, you also have to ensure that your brewing station can provide the ideal fermentation environment for your booch to control its sugar level and safety from contaminants.
Sugar in store-bought kombucha
Store-bought kombuchas may contain more sugar than typical homebrew. To visualize how much sugar is added to commercially-available kombucha, we selected 5 brands and checked the lowest to the highest sugar level in their products. Below is the comparison per brand:
Here are some of the notable insights from the comparative analysis above:
- Kevita‘s sugar level revolves around 13g to 16g. If you are not keen on checking its labels, you’ll be consuming more sugar than you think.
- Humm has kombucha varieties with added sugar and they also offer zero-sugar options.
- GT’s Synergy Kombucha remains unbeatable at the top for both its high-sugar and flavorful kombuchas and the classic kombucha flavor with only 2g sugar content.
- Of all the brands, Remedy tops it all for its No-sugar formula across all kombucha varieties.
Sugar in hard kombucha
Hard kombucha is the alcoholic version of a typical kombucha. The only difference in preparing a hard kombucha is it needs more sugar to increase the alcohol level of kombucha and it takes longer to ferment. Since hard kombucha contains more sugar to begin with, it has a higher sugar level than other alcoholic beverages, which usually fall around 10g and above depending on the brand.
How to measure sugar in kombucha
To measure sugar in kombucha, you will need a refractometer. It is a tool that can measure the dissolved sugar in kombucha. The measuring unit used is by degrees of Brix. It is also used to measure the nutrients in beverages. One degree of Brix equates to 1 gram of sugar.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much sugar do you put in a gallon of kombucha?
A gallon of kombucha needs 1 cup of sugar for optimal fermentation. However, you can lessen it but not exceed ¾ cup. Not enough sugar may affect the fermentation and lead to a change in the taste and quality of the brew.
Is the sugar in kombucha bad for you?
No. However, if you don’t consume kombucha in moderation, you will also gain the added sugars in the drink which is not good for your health.
How much sugar is in GT’s kombucha?
GT’s Kombucha contains 2g to 20g of sugar, depending on the flavor. The Classic Kombucha flavor from GT’s has one of the lowest sugar levels in the market.
Can you put too much sugar in kombucha?
Yes. Adding more sugar to your brew may cause it to become a hard kombucha, an alcoholic version of kombucha. The yeast will feast on the abundance of sugar which in turn will increase the amount of ethanol in your brew. If you wish to add more sugar to your brew, you should add it during the second fermentation.
Why is kombucha so high in sugar?
Some commercial kombucha producers provide flavors that are high in sugar mainly because of the ingredients used in them. For example, the sugar level of most GT’s Synergy Kombucha revolves around 2g to 7g. However, their Mystic Mango flavor has 20g of sugar due to the sweetness of mango added to the brew.
Is there added sugar in kombucha?
Most store-bought and flavored kombucha contains added sugar. Make sure to check the label if you’re watching your sugar intake.