What type of sugar do I need to make kombucha and how much?

by Kim

See below, but for even more detailed information on Sugar and Kombucha, see our blog article.

What type of sugar should I use for my kombucha?

Cane sugar or more commonly known as white sugar is the best and most common type of sugar used for kombucha brewing. It is the most easily available source of sucrose for the yeast to convert to ethanol.

If you want to try some different options, we have given you some info below. Any of the below options can be used for kombucha, they will each give quite a different flavour to your final product.

Before getting stuck into sugar experimentation with your kombucha we recommend that you make sure you have completed a few good strong brews and have back up SCOBYs. SCOBYs can be temperamental at times and may not easily adjust to a new sugar for fermentation. The best way to experiment is to substitute a portion of your white sugar for your preferred sugar alternative and figure out what gives you your favourite flavour profile. We recommend starting with 1/4 new or alternative sugar source + 3/4 white sugar.

The possible options:

  • Evaporated Cane Juice or Cane Juice Crystals – this is a less refined sugar and is a good option to try.
  • Brown Sugar – this is harder for the SCOBY to break down. It will contribute a more caramel/molasses flavour.
  • Coconut Palm Sugar or Syrup – this will work well but may give sour or bitter flavours due to the high level of minerals. It may need a shorter brewing time so keep regularly tasting your brew.
  • Agave or Maple Syrup – make sure it is a pure source and not mixed with anything. For kombucha this may require some experimentation and extra culture to be added at the start to give your SCOBY the best possible chance of survival. We recommend starting with proportions of white and new or alternative sugar to allow adjustment of your SCOBY.
  • Molasses – this has a relatively low level of sucrose so is best paired with a mixture of white sugar and molasses. This will add some interesting notes to your brew so some experimentation will be required.
  • Honey – there are different ratios of sugar in different types of honey so you may see some contrasting results, but it can be used for experimentation. The main thing is DO NOT use raw honey for kombucha as the naturally present bacteria in the honey will compete with the SCOBY bacteria and we cannot guarantee which will win.

What sugars should I not be using in my brewing?

  • Raw honey - the naturally present bacteria in the honey will compete with the SCOBY bacteria and we cannot guarantee which will win.
  • Stevia – this is a plant sugar and will not ferment.
  • Artificial Sweeteners (Erythritol, Aspartame, Sucralose) – none of these will work.

There are lots of opportunities to get creative with your brewing. For kombucha the main recommendation we have is to get a good, strong SCOBY brew going and have a few back ups in case things don’t go so well the first time. Start with incremental amounts to get your SCOBY used to the new sugar sources and take it from there. We’re here to help so contact us if you have any further questions or comments.

How much sugar do I add?

The amount of sugar is specified in your recipe. For kombucha the sugar addition is very important as it ensures normal healthy development of your kombucha. If you add too much sugar the balance of yeast to bacteria will change and your kombucha will be overrun with yeast, giving too much alcohol and off flavours. If you don’t use enough sugar you will inhibit the SCOBY growth and production of acetic acid, this may also lead to increased mould issues due to an unhealthy SCOBY.