Does Sugar-Free Kombucha Exist?
The Sugar Fix
Whether you’re trying to kick the sugar habit or prefer to avoid it, you may be wondering if there’s such a thing called sugar-free kombucha. It would be easy to simply tell you no, but we want to explain why – and give you some perspective.
First of all, compared with many other popular beverages, the sugar content in kombucha is relatively low. Kombucha manufacturers have their own recipes, so we can’t speak for all of them, but we do know that the sugar content in Brew Dr. Kombucha kombuchas is 6 grams or less per 7 fluid ounces. That’s about a teaspoon and a half of sugar.
We don’t add sugar to our brews after fermentation. This is where it gets interesting and why no kombucha is sugar-free. Kombucha is a fermented beverage. In order for fermentation to occur, there must be three elements:
- Tea (made from tea leaves and water)
- Specific yeast and bacteria (called SCOBY)
The sugar feeds the yeast and bacteria, aiding in its growth. Without sugar, you have no yeast and bacteria. Without yeast and bacteria, you have no kombucha.
Most of the sugar added to the tea is consumed during the fermentation process. The byproduct of this is carbon dioxide (that’s where the fizz and tang come from) and small amounts of alcohol.
Now, it’s up to the kombucha manufacturer as to whether they want to leave well enough alone or if they want to add more sugar to sweeten their brew. At Brew Dr., we never add any sugar after fermentation. The sugar that’s left over from fermentation is enough for us, especially since our flavors come from real fruits and botanicals.
How Much Sugar?
If you’re thinking 4-6 grams of sugar is a lot, we want to put that amount into perspective. Many people don’t realize the sugar content in some of the most popular beverages. Even though our kombucha does contain sugar to aid in the fermentation process, it’s still significantly lower than many other popular options:
- Brew Dr. Kombucha: 4-6 grams per 7 fl oz
- Sparkling water/plain water: 0 grams
- Fruit juice: 33 grams to 58 grams per 12 fl oz
- Coca-Cola Classic: 35 grams per can
- Dr. Pepper – 66 grams per 20 fl oz
- Lemonade – ~ 25 grams per 12 fl oz
- Gatorade – ~ 34 grams per 20 fl oz
- IZZE Sparkling Clementine – 19 grams per 8.4 fl oz
- AriZona Green Tea – 16 grams per 8 fl oz
- Starbucks Frappuccino – 66 grams per 16 fl oz
- Cappuccino – 12 grams per 16 fl oz
- Latte – 18 grams per 16 fl oz
- Bottled smoothies – 50 grams – 60 grams per 12 fl oz
Sure, you can drink water and sparkling water, but then you’d be missing out on all of the wonderful flavor variations, fizz and unique tartness of kombucha. And don’t forget the beneficial bacteria that makes kombucha so special. The result of that small amount of sugar is what’s keeping them strong and happy.
Related: Our Favorite Kombucha Flavor
Last note: beware of any “sugar-free” drink. Most beverages that claim to be sugar-free add in other types of sweeteners and additives you may want to avoid. They are often hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, can be highly artificial and make you actually crave sugar.