When writing up my double-sugar kombucha, I mentioned that I would follow with a batch of kombucha with half the sugar. This is it.
I let this ferment for 16 days, at which point it was sour, with a stark lack of sweetness, a pH of 3.2, and a thin/weak scoby. After refrigeration the flavor is rather plain, and I’ve been surprised how much a little sweetness adds to the flavor. I bottled 1 quart with Hibiscus Key Lime, one with Decaf Earl Grey, and one with Sleepytime Peach. Peach and earl grey are my standbys, and while the flavor was okay, they didn’t adequately improve the base, and still tasted rather plain.
I ended up combining the peach with a half quart of tart Chocolate Hazelnut kombucha, and the result tastes much better. Blending, for the win. With the earl grey, I added a bit of white sugar. This helped, but was a simpler, and somewhat different, flavor than using more sugar at the start. I believe this is because the culture breaks the sucrose into it’s constituent monosaccharides of glucose and fructose, resulting in a final “sugar” flavor that is comprised of two different sugars (with different flavor profiles) than the one that was initially added. Additionally, sucrose, fructose, and glucose are each consumed at different rates by different organisms in the culture, and at different rates depending on the current conditions of the kombucha (acidity, sugar content, nutrient density, alcohol content). Another complicating factor is that flavors influence the way we perceive other flavors. One sugar will taste sweeter in the presence of some acids, and another sugar will taste less sweet in the presence of some other acids. Crazy, eh?