rowdy mermaid kombucha

The Truth About Sugar and Kombucha

April 26, 2019

So you want to know the truth about sugar and kombucha? What happens to all that sugar that goes into the brewing process? Is there such a thing as low-sugar kombucha?

If you’ve been asking those questions, you’re in the right place. And while sugar-free kombucha is a myth, there are low-sugar kombucha options that will delight your taste buds without the sugar rush.

So what’s the deal with sugar and kombucha?

Health bloggers and news outlets have swung both for and against kombucha as an age-old health elixir, usually blaming hidden sugars and high alcohol content as strikes against the 2,000-year-old fermented tea. Teaming with probiotics, nutrients and flavor, we say - hold up! Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater… or fermented SCOBY water, so to speak.

rowdy mermaid kombucha

The truth is, not all kombucha is created equal.

The brewing process varies greatly from brew-at-home kombucha to in-store brands, and from brewery to brewery - generating tremendous variance in procedure, ingredients, health benefits and sugar content.

While some kombucha contains a whopping 20 grams of sugar per bottle, Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha maintains low-sugar products with a maximum of 9 grams of sugar per 12oz serving. For reference, a typical 8oz glass of orange juice contains about 24 grams of sugar.

The reality is that the sugar added to kombucha should ferment out. That is to say, sugar is meant for the culture to consume – not you! The kombucha brewing process must include sugar for this reason, and whether it comes in the form of sugar, honey or fruit juice is up to the brewer.

Regardless of the sugar source, in its most basic recipe, kombucha is made from the combination of tea and sugar fermented with a SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. As the SCOBY consumes the sugar, the tea ferments and creates a most flavorful probiotic beverage.

So why do some kombucha brands have high-sugar kombucha?

Contrary to popular belief, the sugar content of any kombucha is very much in the hands of the brewers. Most companies add a lot of sugar upfront in the brewing process, knowing that the SCOBY will not consume all of the sugar, but hoping that enough sweetness will balance the acidic/vinegar taste, making the brew more flavorful and appealing without needing too much attention to detail. This allows more leeway in the brewing process, as companies do not need to monitor each batch of their fermentations as closely for sugar content, because they are counting on any leftover sugar to perk-up the flavor of the end result. We don’t like this shortcut.

How do we brew low-sugar kombucha?

At Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha, we craft superior flavor not through sugar dumping, but through delicate flavor profiling with herbs, spices, roots and flowers that celebrate nature and make your internal flora sing.

rowdy mermaid kombucha rose kombucha floral kombucha

In deepening our understanding of the fermentation process, we have figured out the absolute minimum amount of sugar necessary for fermentation to thrive. We add a predetermined amount of sugar (the minimum for the SCOBY to thrive), tea, and the starter culture (SCOBY). The SCOBY, yeast and bacteria begin to eat the sugars, generating small amounts of alcohol and organic acids (acetic acid, lactic acid, etc.).  Our alcohol content is ALWAYS less than 0.5% ABV which is required of any non-alcoholic drink in the US and many other countries.

Our state-of-the-art quality control and analysis lab monitors each batch as it ferments, so that we know the exact sugar and acidity content in each batch sent out the door and onto store shelves. We were the first kombucha company to adopt the most precise meter with the fastest sample measuring time on the market.   Our team is meticulous about measuring our batches and we have staff positions dedicated to monitoring in-process fermentations on a daily basis for all of the parameters. The monitoring includes putting a value on desired sourness as we monitor the disappearance of sugar and build up of acidity over time.

In the brewing process, we do not add more sugar, but instead, monitor as the sugar content decreases and acidity increases over time due to SCOBY growth and fermentation. We measure batches of kombucha daily, titrating each batch to get the process and end result consistent for the most delicate, balanced and healthy kombucha on the market.

Why is low-sugar kombucha better?

We all know that large amounts of sugar can be detrimental to our health over time - from weight gain to blood sugar imbalances. Putting aside the obvious dangers of high sugar content, low-sugar kombucha is simply superior in flavor, texture and overall experience. The end result is a drier and crisper beverage with lower viscosity and better flavor.

With low-sugar kombucha, you can taste the delicate flavor of the fresh botanicals we use to create a complex tasting experience. Because the acidity is balanced just right rather than being masked by a sugar overload, you can truly taste the flavor - not too sweet, not too sour.  Unlike more sweet or sour kombucha, we’re not an acquired taste. We convert large numbers of consumers into kombucha lovers.

Where can I find low-sugar kombucha?

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Make sure to check nutrient content labels to avoid overly sweetened kombucha and hidden sugars. Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha is a great low-sugar kombucha option, with products available in bottles and on tap throughout the Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Nevada and California. Just enter your zip code into this store locator and we'll do the rest. If we're not in your area you can always request us from your local grocery store.

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Boulder, CO 80304


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