Why is it so important to ferment your kombucha for a minimum of 21 days or more? Just like the moon. Kombucha acts in a cycle that is dependent on time to become full. In the case of kombucha, you get twice the antioxidants, properly active probiotics, significantly more beneficial acids and significantly less sugar after 21 days of fermentation. Something else to keep in mind, for the first 7 days kombucha is about 80% Candida yeast and it retains 100% of the original sugar you started with.
It’s not truly kombucha until the sugars have been converted into the beneficial components, like probiotics (good for your gut) and beneficial acids (good for detoxification). If you drink kombucha that is fermented less than 21 days, you are mostly drinking sweet tea and yeasts. So whats the point to pay the extra few bucks for “kombucha”?
From a Cornell University study –> How is it possible that sugar is still so concentrated at the 7-15 day mark? Here’s how: In the first stage of fermentation, the yeast uses the minerals from the tea to produce enzymes that separate sugar into glucose and fructose. At the 7-day mark, that’s as far as the process has gone. The sugar is easier to digest, but hasn’t diminished in concentration. By the 15-day mark, the yeasts and bacterias are just starting to eat/diminish the sugar content (3.3 teaspoons (14 grams) of sugar per cup (8 ounces) remaining at that point) this means most of the beneficial probiotics and acids don’t begin to be produced until after the 15 day mark. By 21 days, it’s “properly pro-biotically active” and by 30 days theres almost no sugar left.
One common refrain, “my SCOBY is so fast/ strong” it gets sour really fast. How could I ferment for 21 days? The reason for this is most likely because the SCOBY is actually old and has many layers. Every batch the SCOBY grows new layers and Acetobacter (most dominant bacteria in the SCOBY and the one responsible for making acetic acid, which is the acid that makes it taste like strong vinegar) takes over and starts to make you tea vinegar, instead of kombucha. This is why you should always peel off and use only the top layer of your SCOBY and compost the rest.
Another way, to fix the “too sour” issue is by, choice of tea and sugar ratios. It’s possible to actually cut the sugar amounts when making kombucha by almost 1/3. Instead of 1 cup (250 grams) per gallon (4 liters) use only 2/3 a cup (170 grams). But, don’t reduce the sugar more than this, or it won’t work. It’s also possible to use honey or maple syrup on a gram to gram ratio. For example: If you normally use 500g of sugar you can use 300g of sugar and 200g of honey to get the same effect. The taste may be a bit different and might require you to change your techniques a bit, but the results will be worth it! Honey is great to soften the sour and also, much better for you than sugar! Just make sure to use a wooden spoon with your honey. 🙂
Something else to consider, the kind of tea and how much you use. We have experimented with 100’s of teas. Lighter, softer teas like white and some green blends, certain darjeeling’s and oolong’s will have less Catechins. This will generally mean a softer ferment. You can also blend in herbal teas, but avoid anything that has sugar like currants, dried berries, etc… This will increase the sour. Brewing tea properly and always using a fresh SCOBY, will result in a pleasant pH, good aromas and a soft delicate taste after twenty-one to thirty days. Not to mention you will get significantly more healthy kombucha.
Don’t believe the hype. Not all kombucha’s are created equally.