Does Kombucha really need white sugar?

Get the low-down on how you can use alternative sugars to brew your kombucha.

That’s a question I hear A LOT in kombucha discussions. And until now my answer has been, “Yes. If you possibly can.”

The reason I said that was because kombucha scobys have been raised and cultured on plain white sugar for generations now, and if you want the best kombucha from your scoby, you need to stick to the basics and give it white sugar.

As my Dad always used to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

At least… that’s what I thought!

Except that today’s studies tell a different story.

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What happens inside Kombucha Vinegar?

How to Hack Your Brew – adjusting sugar, fructose, alcohol, and acidity by changing the brew time.


Have you ever wondered what goes on inside your batch of kombucha when you leave it too long? What about when you’re deliberately making kombucha vinegar? What are the changes that happen?

Or maybe you’re trying to hack your kombucha brew to get a particular effect. If you want to minimize the sugar, how long should you leave it? What happens to the sugar? How much alcohol gets produced and when? How acidic does it get and when? How much fructose gets produced?

Well, you are not alone in asking those questions!

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Lactic acid bacteria. Why you want them when you’re making kombucha.

lactic acid bacteria

When we’re making kombucha, we want it to be as healthy and as health-giving as we can. Because even though it tastes great, most of us are doing this because we want to see improvements in our health. Otherwise, why bother, right?

So, let’s dive into the exciting world of lactic-acid bacteria, and how they benefit your kombucha brew.

Continue reading “Lactic acid bacteria. Why you want them when you’re making kombucha.”

Nothing to see here (research paper retracted)

when sicence goes bad


Originally this blog post was going to be the exciting follow up to this one. You know, where I get into the nitty gritty about why I thought you’d love to hear about how fermenting herbal teas with a scoby make them even better?

But life is a funny old thing sometimes.

Continue reading “Nothing to see here (research paper retracted)”

Coming soon…

herbal tea kombucha.jpg

I’m reading a fascinating paper at the moment  where the researchers are testing whether using a scoby to ferment herbal teas (rather than ordinary tea) is a good idea.

Spoiler: it mostly is!

(Life has been busy here as I’m spending most of my writing-time on my next book. I’m pretty excited at how that’s shaping up! Postings about research papers are still definitely in the pipeline, including the one I just mentioned about herbal teas, but also some about coffee-kombucha, and about kombucha maybe protecting rats against radiation damage. Cool stuff.)

Edited on 2 July 2016 to add: Sadly it turns out that this research paper was not worth the paper it was printed on.

Kombucha has a different mix of microbes when grown with different recipes

For my first translation of a scientific research paper in to plain English, I decided to start with the most recent publication.  In June 2015 a paper by Oleg N. Reva and colleagues was published in the journal AMB Express :

Metabarcoding of the kombucha microbial community grown in different microenvironments

Key take-home points:

  • The exact mix of microbes in your kombucha scoby and drink will change if you change the liquid you grow it in.
  • Using honey instead of sugar resulted in a more unpredictable mix of bacteria and yeasts.
  • Kombucha doesn’t necessarily contain lactobacillus – some scobys do and and some scobys don’t.
  • Lactobacillus is a good probiotic, so if you want it in your kombucha one way to get it there is to add some minced cabbage to one of your ferments.

Continue reading “Kombucha has a different mix of microbes when grown with different recipes”