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 basically drinking sweet tea and yeasts. So whats the point to pay the extra few bucks for “kombucha”? It’s not really kombucha until after 21 days of fermentation.
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 yet 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 thing we hear over and over is “my SCOBY is so fast/ strong” it’s simply not true. Kombucha acts in a cycle as this study proves. While warmer temperatures will speed it up slightly. Time is the most important component for making proper, healthy kombucha.
The most common argument for a shorter fermentation is “but it is too sour”. There are a couple things happening here. First, people’s palate’s are used to sweet taste. Of course, because there is so much sugar/ corn syrup in everything, (including beer!) and there’s a reason for this, because it’s addictive. This way businesses keep you coming back for more of their products. But, you can train your pallet and wean yourself off the sweet taste by reading labels and avoiding sugar as much as possible. Which, in turn, will make sour things more tasty! Not to mention, your body will be more healthy. Isn’t that the point to drink kombucha? To be more healthy?
Another way, to fix the “too sour” issue is by your choice of tea and your sugar ratios. You can 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, you can’t cut it more than this. You can also 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, is 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.
The last possible tweak is the fermentation size. A smaller ferment may become more sour as measured by pH. We recommend 3-6 gallons (12L -24L) as the ideal fermentation size for making kombucha. Pure Luck® – Pure Kombucha™ is always made in 5 gallon (20 L) batches and fermented for a minimum of 21 days in a glass vessel. We then bottle condition (continue fermentation in a capped bottle so it carbonates lightly) at room temperature for a minimum of one week. Since, we don’t need, or use, refrigeration some bottles will continue fermenting for much longer before they are brought to market. Some of our flavors ferment as long as 30 days before bottling.
If you brew your tea right then your pH hovers between 3.0 – 3.3 after twenty-one to thirty days. If you want to be healthy, ask questions, always. Any brewer who won’t tell you what material they use for their fermentation vessel or how many days they ferment their kombucha, has something to hide.
We advise strongly against metal and plastic because the acids in kombucha will, over time, leach toxins into your brew. The best advice we can give – be smart and ask questions! This the only way to be sure to stay healthy. Don’t believe the hype. Not all kombucha’s are created equal.