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Why Do I Need Sugar to Brew Kombucha?

Written by Hannah Crum on January 24, 2012 with 2 Comments

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healthy kombucha in sun“I thought Kombucha was supposed to curb my sugar cravings, but when I look at the recipe, it calls for quite a bit of sugar. Why do I need sugar to make Kombucha? Isn’t it supposed to be low sugar?”

This question is one that comes up whenever health conscious folks discover that one of the main ingredients of Kombucha is sugar. These days sugar has a bad reputation and for a good reason. When over consumed, it causes a host of health problems. Once considered a luxury item, its presence in processed foods is ubiquitous. However, sugar truly is a wondrous and misunderstood building block of life. It is nature’s gasoline: real, honest and pure energy, and when delivered in an easily digestible form, incredibly efficient!

Kombucha is fermented sweet tea. The sweet comes from sugar which is an important fuel source for the yeast and bacteria that make up the Kombucha culture.  The yeast consume the sugar which produces CO2 & ethanol. The bacteria then consume the ethanol and produce healthy organic acids. Basically, they take sugar and covert it from a toxic substance to a life giving one. Pretty darn cool!

The Kombucha culture would prefer to have white refined sugar as it is stripped down to its easiest, simplest form. However, that process imparts toxins and chemicals to the sugar that I’d rather not put in my body. So I use Organic Fair Trade Evaporated Cane Sugar Crystals. They are less refined than white sugar and still retain some of their mineral content but are also easy enough for the culture to convert.

But what about my Kombucha? Won’t it have a lot of sugar left in it?

You can tell from the sweet sour taste of Kombucha that not much of the sugar ends up in the final brew. When brewing it at home, you have more control over how much is left by tasting it along the way. A 1-gallon batch of Kombucha that has brewed for 14 days will typically have 2g of sugar per 8oz serving making it a great low-sugar substitute for sodas, juice or energy drinks. The added benefit to drinking Kombucha on a regular basis is that it actually curbs sugar cravings. Those with sugar sensitivities can brew it longer to ensure most if not all of the sugar is converted. The resulting brew may be more tart but is easily mixed with water. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Learn more about what types of sugar you can use for brewing Kombucha.

Got questions about brewing Kombucha, fermented foods or traditional diets? Drop me a line at


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  1. I brew my own Kombucha and was wondering if i can use coconut sugar crystals (organic evaporated coconut palm nectar) in place of white sugar?

  2. Hi Lulu – Yes! You can use coconut sugar crystals. You may need to adjust your brewing time depending on how quickly (or not) it ferments. Start tasting around day 4 and then harvest when it is the flavor your like! Do keep us posted on how it turns out =)

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