Sugar amount and fermentation time both play a major factor regarding the amount of wholesome metabolic products in kombucha tea. What makes kombucha tea so special is its ability to yield healing metabolic products. As a kombucha brewer, it is important to manage your culture and the organic acids it produces. An important management tool in your brewery toolbox is the decision you make regarding sugar amount and fermentation time to yield the most metabolic products, which is what we want. There is no question that limited sugar amount used to create sweetened tea will ultimately yield a kombucha with fewer metabolic products. How much sugar you decide to use will ultimately be a deciding factor on the amount of metabolic products in your finished kombucha tea. When deciding on how much sugar (because the sugar amount is not a science), also consider the fermentation time and metabolic products because sugar ultimately dictates not only the powerful metabolic healing products in kombucha tea but also the amount of energy produced via the krebs cycle for the culture to grow, reproduce. eliminate waste as well as transform sweetened tea to a world class kombucha.
My friend, Günther Frank explains best the theory and connection between sugar amount, fermentation time and metabolic products in his book on page 64, available on Amazon.com, under Mr. Frank’s question “How Much Sugar Should One Use?”, “Kombucha: Healthy Beverage and Natural Remedy From the Far East. It’s Correct Preparation and Uses”. With Mr. Frank’s permission, I am listing his logical chain to the sugar amount/fermentation time/metabolic products relationship that looks like this:
- Small amount of starting sugar + short period of fermentation = little energy = fewer metabolic products + residual sugar.
- Small amount of starting sugar + long period of fermentation = little energy = fewer metabolic products + almost no residual sugar.
- Adequate starting sugar + short period of fermentation = a lot of energy = few metabolic products + almost no residual sugar.
- Adequate starting sugar + long period of fermentation = a lot of energy = many metabolic products + little residual sugar.
All scenarios yield similar residual sugar content whether less sugar is left to ferment shorter periods or more sugar to ferment longer. Unlike the 1 cup sugar/1 gallon nutrient solution recommended everywhere, my opinion (and also the opinion of kombucha expert, Günther Frank) is the sugar amount used is not a science but subjective. You have to spend an enormous amount of time testing for yourself (among many other parameters) what works for you, your ingredients and fermenting environment. Final taste is also a point to consider as well from the healing acids formed in time through conversion. Depending on how you rate the individual factors however, most likely your decision on sugar amount will yield one of Mr. Frank’s four formulas listed above.