Guidelines for kombucha sugar content? (homebrewed)


adabeie

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I wanted to extend this thread in terms of home-brewed kombucha - varying aspects of fermentation will result in different curves of sugar consumption by the scoby, so I was curious about what the criteria were in judging the absence of sugar from a given kombucha might be? I'm starting a new batch since I began the W30 (day 8 now) and I've been trying to find any experience of home-made kombucha among those doing the W30. It's constantly fermenting, until the point where the pH puts the culture into stasis, but it essentially keeps going as long as there's sugar to be digested, even in 'raw' (eg, no sugar added post-fermentation as a sweetening agent, but unpasteurized, and thus still fermenting and therefore consuming available sugars) kombucha.

 

I guess I might be worrying too much about whether there's a sufficient amount of sugar in the final product to trigger something. I do drink rather dry kombucha, always have, stuff that tends towards a slightly vinegary flavor rather than the soda-pop flavor of some brands/varieties...

 

Anyone out there on the W30 who have done this themselves (ie brewed rather than bought, and yes, I've been all up and through the Cultured Food Life blog, but I don't think I'm about to go out and get a brix meter..)?

 

My overall guidelines for previous batches have largely depended on time and temperature: I find at roughly 22-25C it takes 5-8 days to get a sufficiently dry batch to my taste, which tends to be on the dry side of the general spectrum.

 

As far as tripping up old habits and psychological impact, I have always had a sweet tooth but mostly for pastries.. in a given year I can count on one hand the number of cans of soda I might drink, so I'm not too worried about feeding the sugar demons, but I also just wanted to get a sense of others' experience drinking kombucha. It's such a fabulous beverage and so versatile with herbal blending.. rosemary and lemongrass are personal favorites for infusions, along with rose, though lavender often reminds me too much of soap.. 

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I'm not the expert considering I have yet to brew a successful batch of booch (2nd attempt just started Saturday), but from what I can see in the guidelines, since sugar is necessary to brew kombucha the amount of sugar left after fermenting is considered "minimal" if there has not been additional sugars added in a 2f. I would consider home brew healthier than what is bought in the store because the lack of pasteurization doesn't kill off the good stuff for your body. If you're drinking kombucha in between meals because you want something sweet or snacky then you're feeding a sugar dragon, but if its a part of your meal and you're not overdoing it, then it can be a good supplement, and I often see people comment on kombucha in their food logs.

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Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm fairly solid on the booch itself, as I've been brewing at a very low-production level capacity for local, neighborhood distribution through a few local shops, but I don't necessarily claim to have all the nitty gritty in terms of the science mastered. I think you're right that the intention of the consumption makes a difference. I tend only to add herbs in secondary, and in rare cases, a tablespoon of sugar per liter to produce carbonation but the effect on the flavor and overall sugar content is practically nil. 

 

It does make me wish I was better at scientific equations though, because then it would be a quantifiable, measurable thing.

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It does make me wish I was better at scientific equations though, because then it would be a quantifiable, measurable thing.

 

If you want to know the actual amount of sugar in your completed brew, you would need to use scientific tools not math equations (or maybe equations in combination with weighing/measuring/testing, etc). It is not possible to calculate sugar remaining after a specific number of days in fermentation or a specific amount of sugar in the initial batch of tea, because scobys are not all created equal and the ambient temperature can have such a strong impact on their activity levels. It is not predictable in advance, but only measurable after the brew is complete. A ph-strip would give you some idea, but there are also devices for measuring sugar content. That's what I would use if you are curious.

 

For the purposes of the whole30, as long as sugar is not added in the second ferment you can have the kombucha. 

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Yeah, in a pinch I could borrow a refractometer from a local brewing academy but it's a bit unwieldy and would cost a lot to replace if I bumped it wrong. Thanks for the definitive answer about the kombucha, though. I had wondered since every batch of booch has varying levels of sweetness, and indeed, every scoby has a different complement of bacteria and yeast. 

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I brew my own and enjoy it both during Whole30 and not.  Some brews come out sweeter than others and depending on how long I leave it in second fermentation, that affects the sweetness also.  I make sure that I'm not using it when I'm craving something sweet and that seems to do the trick.  If I just want to drink some KT then super.  If I really would like some ice cream but I'll settle for my Guava Kiwi kombucha, that's a problem and I'll usually just go with water.

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