Information that producers give us about Kombucha shelf life and the way of its store is a bit confusing, don’t you think? This sweet fermented tea is a really weird but high healthy drink.
You should know how long does Kombucha last and does Kombucha go bad after all, whether you have this product bottled or make it with a starter.
Does Kombucha Go Bad?
Basically, Kombucha is a sweet, slightly alcoholic fermented tea with a light and slightly vinegary aroma. People have served it cold for over a thousand years because of its health benefits. Usually, this drink has a sweet taste.
Although it ferments over time, it can’t last forever. However, the fermentation process prolongs its shelf life for a while. Moreover, you can probably use it beyond its expiration date.
How Long Does Kombucha Last?
Technically, pure raw Kombucha can last forever. In reality, fermentation will lead to sugar consumption and changes in its flavor. In other words, your drink will become sour and bitter over time.
The crucial thing is to make a difference between the best before date, which is actually recommended date of consumption, and the use-by date that refers to the last day of safe consumption.
So, you will see a best before date on the bottle, meaning you can use this product with low PH levels much longer. The reason is an acidic environment that eliminates bacteria growth. The only exception is flavored Kombucha with fruit bits that are susceptible to mold.
Up to 8 months
1 to 3 months
Sometimes, you can find Kombucha that can stay at room temperature while unopened, but you can store it in the fridge. That way, it will probably retain the recognizable flavor for several months past best-by date.
You should put this product in the refrigerator as soon as you open the packaging and drink it within a week. If not, you will notice the loss of flavor and fizz while its taste becomes acidic due to interaction with the air.
How long you can use homemade Kombucha primarily depends on the recipe or starter used. In most cases, it will last a few months when kept in the fridge.
Tips to Tell if Kombucha Has Gone Bad
Kombucha is a fermented drink that changes its quality over time. Even though it can’t go bad fast like some other beverages, you should look for signs of spoilage when it sits too long in your freezer.
Be aware that the fermentation of living cultures like Kombucha never stops. When your drink stays long in the fridge, you will notice floating bits in it over time.
These SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) are not indications of spoilage but a sign that your Kombucha is still alive and rich in healthy live bacteria.
When you buy clear Kombucha, you can conclude that it is filtered or pasteurized and without bacteria. One more thing! Brown floating strings are actually yeast strands that are the drink’s natural components.
If you don’t see any trace of mold or obvious spoilage signs, you can take a sip of Kombucha to check its taste. Keep in mind that this drink is not spoiled even though it tastes vinegar-like and too tart, but you should avoid drinking it since it tastes unpleasant.
If you enjoy acidic beverages and don’t mind such flavors, you can drink this tea. It is only over fermented but not dangerous and won’t cause any digestive problems or poisoning.
Since old Kombucha ferments for an extended period, you can expect yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. The alcohol levels will become higher over time but never too high.
In most cases, mold is the crucial problem when it comes to Kombucha. In general, mold won’t commonly form in the bottle with this drink, but you can sometimes notice it around the cap. In such a case, nothing can help your beverage, and you need to get rid of it.
Don’t mix mold with Kombucha sediment on the bottle bottom. It is usually whitish while the mold is colored and often black. Plus, fizzing almost always follows its appearance.
Tips to Store Kombucha
As I have already mentioned, the answer to the question does Kombucha expires or becomes dangerous over time is a bit tricky. There is also no final agreement on whether you should keep it in the fridge or pantry.
It seems that producers don’t have a consensus on the matter. Some brands recommend storing their products at room temperature for months and claim that it won’t negatively affect Kombucha.
On the other hand, others require their products to refrigerate. So, what to do? Let’s see.
If you buy commercial Kombucha, you can keep it at room temperature. It is always better to choose a dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. That is the only way to protect living cultures in your product.
Keep in mind that those cultures become more active at room temperature, resulting in tart taste and excess carbonation. At one point, your tea may literally turn into vinegar.
In general, when the producer recommends you to keep their Kombucha in the pantry, there is no reason to question it. That only means it has processed the product in a particular way to make it safe for storing at room temperature for a long.
However, it will eventually turn into a vinegar-like drink with excessive carbon dioxide and without any live probiotics.
Since unrefrigerated Kombucha continues to ferment, the carbon dioxide levels increase, so there is a risk for a bottle to explode suddenly because of the excess gas.
Therefore, the best option is to keep your Kombucha in the fridge and take the bottle out only when you want to drink it. Never store the bottle on its side or shake it, especially before using it. Otherwise, you may face an unpleasant explosion and a real mess all around.
Always store homemade Kombucha in the fridge. The same procedure is the best choice for most commercial products, as well.
The secret is in low temperatures, which significantly slow down the fermentation process in both opened and unopened bottles. The raw and live Kombucha will maintain its quality, recognizable taste, and health profile as a probiotic only if you store it in the fridge.
Unfortunately, you can expect to notice some changes after approximately 2 to 3 months, even in that case.
There is no reason to store a bottle of Kombucha in the freezer. It is unnecessary and will kill living creatures that make this drink what it is.
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Kombucha
Kombucha has numerous benefits for human health, but many people find its taste awful. If you are not one of them, you can drink it for long without fear of spoiling.
Unfortunately, it won’t last forever, so you should learn how to differentiate the healthy product and the one that has gone bad and become hazardous.
The essential question is whether there any risks in drinking expired Kombucha. The answer can be a bit tricky since not everyone reacts the same way.
Some people react to this beverage with digestive discomfort and bloating even when it is not expired. It is possible for guts to react to newly introduced bacteria since they may upset their natural balance.
Plus, your stomach can react to this drink because of carbonation, primarily if you are not used to this beverage type.
Additionally, Kombucha contains high levels of sugars FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols) that sometimes causes digestive distress.
Keep in mind that this drink can be even dangerous for some populations. The primary problem is bacteria. Even though Kombucha contains only good ones, bad microorganisms can affect it during preparation.
A healthy immune system will effortlessly handle them, but sensitive people and convalescents should avoid drinking it.
Kombucha is not recommended for:
- Immunocompromised patients with an autoimmune disease, kidney disease, and cancer
- Children with undeveloped immune systems
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding women
This beverage is not an excellent option for those who can’t stand the alcohol and caffeine it contains. On average, 8 ounces (0.2 l) of Kombucha contains 10 mg of caffeine that may cause harmful effects in patients sensitive to caffeine that includes:
- Digestive distress
Kombucha contaminated with mold is dangerous and may cause:
- Stomach upset
- Headache and neck pain
- Allergic reactions
Can You Freeze Kombucha?
The answer to this particular question is not complicated at all. No, you can’t freeze Kombucha under any circumstances. Otherwise, the low temperatures will kill the living creatures it contains, destroy the product’s consistency, and make this drink unusable.
Kombucha is a complicated drink. It is healthy but can cause problems with bloating. Thanks to the fermentation process, it can last for months, even after the best-by date printed on the packaging. If you store this drink appropriately at an adequate temperature, you will enjoy its fresh flavor for a long.