So maybe you aren’t thrilled with the idea that kombucha is made with white sugar and black tea. Is there a way around your SCOBY’s strict diet? Yes! You can brew kombucha with honey or maple syrup. And you can make kombucha herbal tea or green tea.
There is really only one trick… your SCOBY won’t be happy. The SCOBY needs the tannins found in tea and it needs sucrose. So as long as you have a healthy SCOBY grown in tea and sugar, then you can sacrifice one of its babies to a life in herbal tea and honey.
Rules for Brewing caffeine-free, sugar-free kombucha
- After brewing kombucha without tea and/or sugar your SCOBY won’t be as healthy. To change it to a jun SCOBY continue brewing with green tea and honey. I recommend keeping a healthy SCOBY in the usual sweet tea while making your sugar free/caffeine free batches as a back up.
- Rooibos tea is better than other herbal teas because it doesn’t contain any volatile oils. Avoid teas like mint, chamomile, rosemary, etc..
- Don’t try to use low calorie sweeteners (like xylitol, stevia, splenda) as there won’t be anything for the SCOBY to eat. Also avoid high fructose sweeteners (like agave or rice syrup.) You can add these sweeteners after bottling the kombucha for a second ferment.
You can see from the photo below that the new SCOBY growing across the top is not very thick and healthy. This is after quite a long time culturing. However, it still grew! And I really enjoy my honey rooibos kombucha.
Honey Rooibos Kombucha
Want to make sugar free kombucha, or avoid the caffeinated tea? Here is how to make kombucha with herbal tea, honey and other alternate sweeteners.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 4 1/2 cups 1x
- Category: Beverages
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Probiotic
- 1 rooibos tea bag or 1 tsp of green tea
- 1/4 cup of pasteurized honey (see notes)
- 4 cups of filtered water
- 1 kombucha SCOBY
- 1/2 cup of leftover kombucha
- Boil 2 cups of water and make a sweet tea with the tea and honey.
- Add the remaining 2 cups of water to cool the tea down to room temperature.
- Place tea, SCOBY and leftover kombucha in a large glass jar or measuring cup.
- Cover with a tea towel and use a rubber band to keep it in place.
- Allow it to ferment in a warm location for 7-15 days (it will take longer than regular kombucha.)
- Pour off a little liquid to taste it. It is finished when it has reached the desired level of sourness (it starts really sweet and becomes sour as it ferments.)
- Pour it off into a plastic bottle or a swing top beer bottle leaving the SCOBY.
- Raw honey has its own yeast and bacterial culture. So either use pasteurized honey, or add the honey to the boiling tea water to kill the natural yeast and bacteria.
- Like honey, fruit juice also contains a mix of fructose and glucose. To sweeten with fruit juice use 1 cup of a clear fruit juice (grape, apple, pear) with 3 cups of tea. The exact amount of sugar will depend on the type of juice. However, as long as you aren’t brewing with straight cranberry juice, the SCOBY should have enough sugar.
Keywords: probiotic, sugar free, caffeine free, rooibos tea, honey, green tea, herbal, juice