Kombucha is the health drink of the year.
Sipped on for its unique tangy taste, live probiotics, and antioxidants, kombucha is a fermented tea thought to originate from China.
Today, it’s all about kombucha. How to tell if kombucha has gone off, how to store kombucha, and how long kombucha lasts.
What’s the deal?
Kombucha is fermented and live, so you need to refrigerate it to slow this process. For store-bought kombucha, refrigerating it will keep it delicious for 6-8 months. And don’t worry about those little floating specs and strands – they are a normal product of the fermentation process!
Help! Has My Kombucha Gone Bad?
Your kombucha is unlikely to have actually gone bad, but it may have over-fermented and degraded in quality since it contains live bacteria.
You should definitely chuck your kombucha if you see mold floating around or any mold on the bottle. This is pretty rare, though.
Don’t confuse those little floating specs and strands with mold. These are normal and a result of the same process as when vinegar forms vinegar mother on its own.
Other than that, look for changes in appearance (like a darkening in color), smell, and, finally, taste. Try your kombucha to check if it has gone bad. Don’t worry – as long as there are no visible or odor changes, this won’t harm you, though it may be unpleasant if it’s fermented too much.
So Your Kombucha’s Degraded. Here’s How To Use It
If you’ve found your kombucha looks, smells, or tastes funky, there are plenty of ways to repurpose it.
But note: don’t use moldy kombucha that has actually gone bad, as you’ll be spreading, drinking, or eating bad bacteria!
Use it as a strong starter tea for your next batch of homemade kombucha
Use it as a household cleaner, replacing vinegar
Make a marinade with degraded kombucha for meat or veggies
Use old kombucha instead of vinegar in recipes
How To Store Kombucha
Most store-bought kombucha should go in the refrigerator, whether opened or unopened. That’s because there are living cultures in the drink. However, sometimes bottled kombucha will have been processed, so you can keep it at room temperature, as long as it’s away from heat and light sources that can compromise the cultures.
Remember: most kombucha needs to be stored in the refrigerator, as the probiotics in it get more active at room temperature, causing excess carbonation and too tart a taste.
If left at room temperature too long, kombucha can literally turn to vinegar!
For homemade kombucha, transfer it to the refrigerator after the fermentation process, as this will slow it down significantly, preserving your kombucha at its best possible flavor.
How Long You Can Expect Kombucha To Last
Your best bet is to go by the best-by date on your bottle of kombucha.
Because kombucha is already fermented and contains live cultures, the flavor will change over time and become more acidic.
Unopened kombucha can be stored in the fridge for up to 8 months.
Once your kombucha is open, store it in the refrigerator and drink it within a week.
With homemade kombucha, go by the shelf life on the kit or recipe, which will probably be around 1-3 months in the refrigerator.
Kombucha: The Round-Up
The good news is that your kombucha is unlikely to be bad unless you’ve left it open at room temperature for a good few months. Instead, your kombucha may have fermented past its ideal point and thus taste tart.
To prevent your kombucha from going bad, remember to store it in the refrigerator, opened or unopened.