Kombucha

Alcohol free kombucha: is it possible? – 6 strategies for an alcohol free kombucha

Alcohol free kombucha: is it possible? – 6 strategies for an alcohol free kombucha - kombucha drink

Dear kombucha friends,

Many costumers ask us: Does kombucha contain alcohol? How can I make alcohol free kombucha? Are my kids allowed to drink kombucha and am I allowed to drink kombucha during pregnancy? But the real question is: Does kombucha really contain alcohol or is it just a myth? So many questions but very easy answers are waiting for you in this article.

To answer the first and important question immediately if kombucha contains alcohol we can answer with yes. But don’t panic: In this article you’ll learn how low the alcohol level is and what you can do to make an alcohol free kombucha.

Where does the alcohol inside your kombucha come from?

As you already know from our article – selfmade kombucha* during the fermentation process yeast is using the sugar and builds carbon acid and alcohol. The lactic acid bacteria need the alcohol and other nutrition to build lactic acid. This is what gives the kombucha a slightly sour taste.

One important difference between kombucha and kefir is that kombucha needs oxygen for the fermentation process.

Other factors are:

-the sugar level: The more sugar you use for your kombucha batch the more alcohol can be build

-not enough oxygen: If the bacteria don’t have enough oxygen to work they are not able to work with the alcohol anymore and the alcohol level rises

-Too many yeasts inside the drink: If the balance between yeasts and bacteria gets out of control in a way it has a positive effect on the yeasts you have not enough bacteria left inside your batch to work with the alcohol.

How much alcohol does my kombucha have?

All in all, you can say: the longer you let you kombucha ferment, the more alcohol the drink gets. It varies between 0,1% and if you let it ferment for a very long time up to 2,5% of alcohol. But don’t panic: if you compare those numbers with other products in our everyday life, you will find out that kombucha does not contain as much alcohol as you thought it would have. For example, apple juice has an alcohol content up to 0,38%, grape juice up to 1% and vinegar up to 1,5%.

Now we know how small the alcohol level in kombucha really is but now we come to another question

How do I get my kombucha alcohol free?

  1. Sugar level: We have learned, the lower the sugar level, the lower the alcohol level is as well. Make sure that especially on the second fermentation to use less sugar to keep the alcohol level low.
  2. Starter Liquid: If your starter liquid is very cloudy or has brown streaks on the bottom, then you have a lot of yeasts inside. To lower the level of yeasts to have less alcohol, just filter your starter through a coffee filter and the yeast streaks will stay out your batch.
  3. Wash your scoby: Before every new batch, rinse your scoby carefully under lukewarm water to remove yeasts.
  4. Oxygen: Your kombucha batch needs oxygen to work perfectly. Search for a space in your house where you have a good air circulation and only use breathable materials to cover your batch.
  5. Temperature: Make sure that your kombucha does not get warmer than 28°C. The warmer it gets the more active and productive the yeasts get and the more alcohol you will have in your drink.
  6. Fermenting time: The longer you let your kombucha ferment, the higher the alcohol level gets. If you want a low alcohol level, you should drink your kombucha between day 5 and 10.

If you obey all the strategies we prepared for you, your kombucha batch should have an alcohol level around 0 percent. We wish you a lot of fun with your scoby

I am looking forward to see you again for my next recipes.

Petra

Watch also this video and many more regarding Kefir and Kombucha on my Youtube channel…

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Chris
    Wednesday July 22nd, 2020 at 02:47 AM

    Hi Petra,
    Thanks for your nice website and info! I have been brewing Kombucha for almost a year and enjoy doing it. My friends that taste it say I should sell it so now I am going through the hoops to get my kitchen approved and to be legal with the state. You article here on the low alcohol is of interest as I can only sell it if it is less than 0.5 %.

    I see you say “ If you want a low alcohol level you should drink your kombucha between day 5 and 10”. Does this time include both the 1st & 2nd ferment or does this mean after the 2nd ferment . Thanks for your thoughts on this !

    • Reply
      Petra
      Wednesday July 22nd, 2020 at 01:39 PM

      Hello Chris,

      many thanks for your comment.

      Between 5 and 10 days means within the first fermentation. But you can also make 2nd fermentation within this time. You are the Fermetista! It also depends on temperature and sugar type… If you want to make kombucha professional you should make sure that you have always same conditions:-)

      Wish you luck with your businee!!!

      Best regards,

      Petra & Stephan

      • Reply
        Chris
        Tuesday August 4th, 2020 at 06:40 AM

        Hi Petra,
        Sorry for the late reply I just realized you replied to my question. I thank you for the quick reply and confirmation on the 5-10 day fermentation period. Also, I realize the sugar and temp has some bearing on the outcome. I normally use organic cane sugar in the amount of 7.5 oz per gallon AKA 1 cup and try to brew around 75 F. Honestly though temp is difficult to be consistent but do the best I can.

        From when I first started brewing Kombucha it has been coming out very good the way I have been doing it, I do have a good idea the alcohol level is low. I put some Kombucha in a glass and into the freezer, it became froze. Assuming the outcome and alcohol doesn’t normally freeze I have to go on the assumption that there is not much alcohol, if any in it.

        Thanks for the thoughts on keeping things consistent if producing professionally, actually it has been very consistent for me doing it in 1 gallon glass jars. However, I have been looking into a bigger more professional brewing vessel which I may go to in time if things work out and need more production.

        TIP: You and others may have done this but my favorite way to consume Kombucha is to keep a frozen glass in the freezer, pour your Kombucha into the frozen glass right before consuming, IMHO it doesn’t get any better than that, its irresistible!

        • Reply
          Petra
          Thursday August 6th, 2020 at 11:28 AM

          Hello Chris,

          many thanks for your reply:-)

          I really appreciate you sharing your experiences with us – especially your tip at the end of your comment. This way we can all grow and could make the most of the legendary kombucha.

          Best personal regards,

          Petra & Stephan

  • Reply
    Florencia
    Monday July 27th, 2020 at 05:25 PM

    Hi Petra. Thank you for all the valuable information on your website.
    I’m home fermenting water kefir and would like to bring the level of alcohol to a minimum without compromising the taste. I’m doing a first fermentation of 1-to-1 ratio of raw sugar and crystals, and a second adding a syrop of juice and refined sugar (VERY little!). I’ve played with the quantities but the alcohol levels are still too high. Any ideas?
    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Petra
      Tuesday July 28th, 2020 at 02:58 PM

      Hi Florencia,

      many thanks for your comment:-)

      Water kefir has an alcohol level between 0,2% and 2% – in average 0,5%. It is like apple juice. What alcohol level do you want for the homemade Kefir?

      To lower the level you can do the following:

      > Reduce Fermentation time to 24 – 48 hours

      > Ferment with room temperature. Too high or too low temperature can influence the fermentation.

      > Do not store the ready water kefir drink too long – During the storage time the alcohol level could increase

      > Actually it is a anaerob fermentation – but to lower the alcohol level you could try a aerob fermentation. Because this way it is harder for the microorganisms to produce alcohol

      I hope these tips help you!

      Best regards,

      Petra & Stephan

  • Reply
    Florencia
    Tuesday July 28th, 2020 at 03:48 PM

    Hi there. Thank you for answering so quickly 😉
    I’ve gotten anywhere from 0,5 to 4!!! Of course the 4% batches had a lot of sugar.
    I’ve tried the first fermentation between 24 to 72 hours, and gotten mixed results.
    How would an aerobic fermentation work?
    Thanks!

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