Can you make Kombucha with honey? Raw honey, even?
A few weeks back, when showing you how to divide a scoby — the Kombucha mother culture — I mentioned that we make our Kombucha with honey instead of sugar.
Many were intrigued and wondered if this was really possible.
Obviously, as our experience bears out, the answer is yes. 🙂
However, since I received many questions about this, this week I'm devoting #AskWardee to sharing the particulars… Check them out below in print, podcast, or video.
The Question: Can You Make Kombucha With Honey?
Many of you asked me to share more information about how we make our Kombucha with honey. I'm happy to share more!
Today, I'm going to tell you how to make Kombucha with honey — even raw honey. First, though, let's answer the three big questions looming over everyone's heads!
#1 — Because Raw Honey Is Anti-Microbial, Won't It Interfere With The Ferment?
Yes, honey is anti-microbial.
In Kombucha or other fermented beverages, however, we have something called dilution on our side. 🙂
As Sandor Katz puts it in Wild Fermentation:
When by chance honey is mixed with water, fermentation happens. Yeasts surfing through the air aboard particles of dust find their way to that sweet, nutritive honey-water. When the honey is pure, it acts as a preservative and inhibits microscopic life. But honey diluted with water becomes a stimulating medium for airborne yeast to land in, feast upon, and reproduce exponentially, bubbling and vividly alive.
So, there you have it — diluted honey provides sweetening and does not interfere with fermentation.
#2 — Why Would You Make Kombucha With Honey, Anyway?
Most people make Kombucha with white sugar or evaporated cane juice — aka table sugar. It's dissolved in a sweet tea.
The mother culture (the scoby) eats the sugar in the sweet tea while it produces beneficial acids and proliferates to create the bubbly, delicious, fermented beverage we call Kombucha.
And even though most of the sugar gets consumed during the fermentation, not all of it does.
Whatever amount is left is too much for us. We don't want to eat any table sugar.
We'd much rather have honey, because honey is allowable on a gut-healing diet such as GAPS.
While we are technically not fully on the GAPS diet, we do still avoid sugar to maintain our gut health and for other benefits (weight management, energy, etc.).
So personally, we prefer to use honey for our Kombucha for this reason!
#3 — Should You Use A Jun Scoby?
You may have heard about Jun. It's a special kind of Kombucha that's brewed with honey and green tea. The scoby itself is slightly different from the regular Kombucha scoby. The resulting beverage Jun contains 2% alcohol as opposed to 0.5% alcohol in regular Kombucha. (Here's more info on Jun.)
Yes, you can use a jun scoby for your honey-brewed probiotic beverage.
Or, you can simply use your regular Kombucha scoby, using honey as the sweetener from here on out. This is what we do. 🙂
How To Use Honey For Kombucha
This is my process of making Kombucha with honey (the full instructions are here):
- Bring water and loose tea or tea bags to a simmer. (Just a small amount of water to cover the tea bags and then some; not the full amount you'll need for the batch. Use 2 tablespoon loose tea per gallon of Kombucha you're making.)
- Turn off heat. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
- Add honey and stir. (Use 3/4 cup raw honey for every gallon of Kombucha you're making.)
- Add some cold water to bring the temperature down.
- Pour into your fermenting vessel that contains the scoby and some finished Kombucha.
- Add remaining water to fill vessel.
- Cover and ferment as usual.
- (Optional) If desired, do a second ferment to add flavor and increase bubbles in bottles like these.
You'll notice I call for 3/4 cup of honey per gallon, while usually Kombucha calls for 1 cup of sugar per gallon. Honey is sweeter, so less is needed.
It's really that simple!
Although I had no trouble simply switching from sugar to honey, it's possible that your scoby may take time to adjust.
…give the honey Kombucha extra time to ferment fully as the scoby adjusts to the new food source.
…split your scoby and keep making Kombucha the usual way while you also start a batch with honey.
This way, you won't mess up what you've got going while you try out something new. 🙂
Bonus Tip For Trim Healthy Mamas!
If you're a Trim Healthy Mama, ferment your Kombucha until it's quite sour — either a first or second ferment — then “sweeten” to taste with liquid stevia!
- How To Divide A Scoby #AskWardee 083
- How To Make Kombucha
- How To Bottle Kombucha (aka Second Ferment) #AskWardee 086
- Continuous Brew Kombucha (review)
- How To Create A Scoby Hotel
- Where To Buy A Kombucha Scoby
- Where To Buy A Jun Scoby
- Where To Buy Bottles — if you want to do a second ferment for bubbly, flavored Kombucha!
- Where To Buy Liquid Stevia — if you have sour Kombucha that you need to “sweeten up” without sugar!
- Is Jun Right For You? All Your Questions Answered!
- GAPS Articles/Archives
- FREE Fermenting Formulas Cheat Sheet
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Do you use honey for Kombucha? Why and how? What tips would you add?
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