Since Brew Your Bucha began, we’ve answered many of your questions about Kombucha. So far, we’ve covered topics such as Kombucha Soap, Jun Tea Kombucha, and even Creative Kombucha Recipes. However, we still haven’t answered one very common question: Is Kombucha Acidic?
If you’re someone who has asked this question in the past or someone who just stumbled onto this blog post, you’re in luck. Today, we’re going to dive into the world of chemistry and take a closer look at Kombucha.
Before we get into any specific details about Kombucha, we should stop and talk about pH Levels, which according to Wikipedia is “a scale used to specify how acidic or basic a water-based solution is.” The pH Scale’s neutral point is at 7; for example, pure water is neither acidic or basic (or alkaline) and has a pH of 7. Any liquid substance that has a pH above 7 is considered basic while any liquid that has a pH below 7 is considered acidic.
One common way to test the pH of a liquid is to use pH litmus paper test strips, little strips of paper that change colour depending on the pH level of a liquid. In most cases, acids turn the test strip into a lighter colour such as yellow or orange while bases turn the strip into a darker colour such as purple. You’ve probably played around with these test strips in a science experiment or chemistry lab as they are very cheap, and easily found online. In fact, Brew Your Bucha sells test strips right here.
If you want a more advanced yet pricier option, then pH meters are for you. There are a wide variety available at a wide range of prices. Most pH meters have a screen that displays the pH, which means you don’t have to match colours.
IS KOMBUCHA ACIDIC?
The simple answer: Yes, Kombucha is acidic.
To go into more detail, Kombucha is made by placing a SCOBY into a jar with sugar and starter tea, which is usually black tea. The microorganisms in the SCOBY eat the sugar and ferment the starter tea to become Kombucha. In fact, the fermentation process makes the starter tea acidic, usually dropping the pH level below 4. This is an essential process because the acidic environment ensures that any harmful microorganisms don’t enter the brew, making the Kombucha safe to drink. Moreover, this also explains why it’s good to check the pH of your brew because Kombucha that has a pH of above 7 is probably not good to drink.
While there’s no consensus for the ideal pH level of Kombucha, it usually falls within the 2.5 to 3.5 pH range. However, it’s always key to taste the Kombucha to determine when the fermentation process is completed. Also, if you want a more acidic Kombucha, let your brew ferment longer as the microorganisms will eat more sugar, leaving you with a sourer brew.
WHY IS IT ACIDIC?
Kombucha has been around for ages and it would only be able to survive this long if it had a method for defending itself from harmful invasive bacteria. So, how does it accomplish that? Acidity!
The increasingly acidic nature of kombucha is a natural defensive mechanism against invasive bacteria by inhibiting the growth of harmful microorganisms while still allowing the kombucha yeast and bacteria to grow. The process of fermentation creates the acidic environment which helps to create a protective barrier around the kombucha. Acetic acid is one of the primary acids to be developed throughout your brewing process and is a driver of the acidity in kombucha.
This is also a key reason why you must always keep a cup of starter fluid for the next brew. This starter fluid helps to raise the initial acidity of the brew to ward off harmful bacteria from affecting your batch. Once your SCOBY has begun to work it can effectively lower the PH level of the brew through the byproduct of its own fermentation.
It is also important to note that the longer you allow your kombucha to ferment, the more acidic it becomes, the lower the PH level, and the more tart the flavor becomes. Therefore, if you want to control the acidity and flavor of your kombucha, you can monitor the kombucha using the tools mentioned earlier to add more of a scientific approach to your brewing methods.