Kombucha is a type of fermented tea that comes to us from Manchuria, China. It’s also loved and traditionally drunk in Russia and other countries of Eastern Europe.
It exists for at least a few centuries, but it could exist for as long as two millennia. That’s rather long, right?
The theory is, it entered Russia from China, and kombucha has taken Europe from there. Now, it’s a globally popular drink. It’s delicious and good for you – and everyone gets hyped about something with health benefits that tastes just so good!
So, you know kombucha is healthy, and you decided to buy some at the local supermarket. The thing is, you don’t know much about the shelf life of kombucha.
Does kombucha go bad? Is there a point in the future where your kombucha tea is just no longer good?
You have to know this so you can figure out how much can you buy at once. To find out does kombucha go bad – continue reading!
What Is Kombucha?
Sure, we explained that kombucha is a fermented tea drink. But, is that all?
Of course not. It’s also slightly effervescent and sweetened in order to get that mouthwatering smell and taste. Also, spices, juice, fruit, and flavors can be added to make it taste even better.
It’s made of green or black tea, and the main reason why it’s so popular is that it’s very healthy. Traditionally, it’s produced with the fermentation of sweetened tea using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
That culture is called SCOBY, more often known as “mushroom”, “tea fungus”, or “mother”. The microbes vary in each kombucha, but the living bacteria are supposedly probiotic, which is one of the health benefits this fermented tea has.
Did you know you can make your own kombucha? All you need is some tea, a starter, sugar, and perhaps some fruit to make it more flavorful! Starters can be bought in larger supermarkets and health stores.
Let’s check out the nutritional value of 1 cup of kombucha:
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Health Benefits Of Drinking Kombucha
Kombucha offers some great benefits to your health. As we said, that’s the main reason why this drink became so popular all over the world.
The best benefits are:
- Kombucha is a good source of probiotics, which are needed for a healthy digestive system
- Powerful antioxidant
- Kills bacteria because it’s highly acidic
- May reduce risk from heart disease
- Help manage diabetes type 2
- May reduce risk from cancer
Does Kombucha Go Bad?
Before you decide to stock up on kombucha, one thing must be settled first. Can kombucha go bad?
It’s not exactly easy to say – when properly stored, kombucha can last a long time, perhaps forever. On the other hand, if you listen to the advice on the manufacturer’s label – kombucha can go bad.
We will listen to that advice, just to be safe. To be fair, kombucha does last quite a while – longer than you think. Why is that?
Well, the fermented tea is very acidic. It contains a lot of bacteria and yeast in a very acidic environment. In other words, other bacteria or yeast can’t survive easily in such an environment. It can happen, and kombucha can go bad, but it’s not likely.
To make sure your kombucha lasts a long time, adhere to the rules given on the manufacturer’s label and our advice below. That way, you will never be surprised by a spoiled kombucha!
The Shelf Life Of Kombucha
This drink is one of the tricky ones when it comes to shelf life. There are so many different data out here – making the whole ‘shelf-life’ deal kind of inconclusive.
It’s not exactly easy to put a finger on a date when your new favorite tea drink will go bad. Even the manufacturer can’t say for sure.
That’s why kombucha is labeled with a best-by or a best-before date. A best-by date is simply a manufacturer’s guarantee that the product in question will retain the same quality up to the printed date. Afterward, the product may start to degrade in quality or remain unchanged.
Either way, the kombucha manufacturers have to put a date on it. In no way does that mean the kombucha will go bad – but it’s more likely to go bad after the printed date passes.
Our official estimate for how long kombucha will remain safe for human consumption after the printed date is around two to three months. It may be shorter, or even longer, but it depends on storage more than anything else.
That applies to unopened bottles. Once you open kombucha, that vastly shortens the shelf life. Every opened bottle should be finished in no more than a week.
The story is a little different when the kombucha in question is homemade. For homemade bottles, shelf life is somewhere between one and three months. It varies on a number of factors – like how good of a job you did, storage, type of starter used, etc.
Storage Tips & Tricks
We cannot stress enough how important it is to properly store something. Correct storage ensures your food stays good until you need it. Also, it saves you money in the end – because you are not forced to throw out food that could have been eaten.
So, let’s talk about ways to properly store kombucha. Don’t be worried – it’s not too hard to remember.
Watch the printed label and use it as a guide when figuring out how to store the bottle of kombucha. Let’s talk about unopened bottles first.
Some manufacturers specify that unopened bottles should be stored at room temperature. If that’s what your bottle says, pick a place away from the window and sources of heat like air vents or radiators.
The pantry or the cupboard is fine. Some bottles require to be refrigerated, even if they’re bottled. If you keep those bottles out, they won’t go bad in a day or two. However, keep them in the fridge all the time for the best results.
Once opened, every bottle should be stored in the fridge. Make sure to close the bottle tightly after use, so it stays fresh longer.
Homemade kombucha should always be stored in the fridge. Seal the cap tightly each time!
Extra tip: If you don’t plan to finish the bottle in one sitting, don’t drink from the bottle. Instead, pour some into a cup and drink. This way, you will prevent bacteria and yeast from getting inside the bottle!
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How To Tell If Your Kombucha Has Gone Bad
We already talked that kombucha can be a little unpredictable. It can go bad at any point if not stored correctly. Life happens and you can forget when you bought or made kombucha.
Thankfully, there are a few tell-tale signs that your kombucha has gone bad. Read this part carefully to learn how to check out your tea drink.
First, pour some kombucha into a transparent cup and look at it. Can you see fizz?
If fizz is present, that’s a good sign. If the kombucha isn’t very fizzy or it’s even flat, it’s definitely gone bad – pour it out to be safe.
Next, examine the liquid. If the liquid seems cloudy, that’s usually a good sign your kombucha is no longer good. If it’s clear, without floating particles, that’s some good kombucha.
Floating particles can turn some people away from kombucha. The particles are only a part of the SCOBY colony that’s used to create the kombucha.
It’s still safe to drink this kombucha and it doesn’t affect the taste. If you don’t like the sight of it, you can always sift it out.
When you see mold forming on the rim of the bottle, that’s a good sign the kombucha spoiled. There is no way around it – you will have to throw it out!
Avoid drinking spoiled kombucha at all times. It can give you a bad stomachache, so be careful!
Does Kombucha Go Bad? – Conclusion
To conclude, kombucha can go bad. It’s rather unpredictable, and manufacturers know this.
Storage affects the shelf life the most. Store it poorly and it will go bad way too soon. If you’re in doubt about storage – keep it in the fridge just to be safe.
It has a best-by, or a best-before label, so it doesn’t inherently go bad past that date. In fact, it can stay fresh for up to three months past that date. If it’s homemade – use it within three months post-production.
If you’re not sure when you opened the bottle, it might be best to check it out first. Look at the liquid and look for fizz. Is it fizzy, clear, without any mold or mildew? Perfectly safe to consume!