I’ve seen a lot of people write about how honey has antimicrobial properties and it’s bad to use it in kombucha. I decided to put it to the test, and see if I could successfully brew kombucha using only honey as the sugar.
This was a 1 quart experiment using my normal procedures, except that I used 1/4 cup of honey rather than 1/4 cup of sucrose.
After 12 days, pH was 3.0. Normally I’d expect that pH to indicate that the kombucha would be too sour, but the sweetness and tartness were nicely balanced. The scoby was 6mm and solid. While honey’s glucose/fructose mix is generally close to that of most of sugars (including plain white table sugar), it contains a wide variety of other sugars in trace amounts as well as a ton of other things. I imagine this added to the complexity of the result and caused the acids produced to be weighted farther away from acetic than would be typical.
Not everyone who cautions against the use of honey in kombucha is concerned about it being antimicrobial and killing the scoby. There could also be issues with microbial contamination (ironically?), intentional adulteration during processing (like adding corn syrup), or a myriad of other things. My culture seemed to like it just fine. I suppose it may not be viable long-term, and I’d have to make several successive batches to test that. I’m sure it would be tasty, but I’m not sure I can afford that much honey, and there are so many other things to try.