Is Kombucha Acidic? The Drinker's Guide – Grow Your Pantry

Is Kombucha Acidic? The Drinker's Guide

by Susan Grey on November 23, 2019
Is_Kombucha_Acidic
Yes, kombucha is acidic, typically kombucha has a PH between 2.5 - 4. Keeping to that specific range of pH during brewing and bottling ensures that the brew is low enough to stop bacterial growth, yet high enough to remain suitable for human consumption.

What Is Acid?

The scientific definition is “An acid is a molecule or ion capable of donating a proton (hydrogen ion H+), or capable of forming a covalent bond with an electron pair (a Lewis acid).[1]. - Source Wikipedia” More simply put, you can think that an acid is a liquid with many H+ balls that swim around. The more H+ in a liquid, the more acidic it is.
In the context of kombucha, when the tea ferments, it becomes more acidic (more H+ ions). When there are a lot of H+ ions (low PH), harmful bacteria can not grow, therefore making it safe for human consumption.

 

What Is PH?

“In chemistry, pH (/piːˈeɪtʃ/) is a scale used to specify how acidic or basic a water-based solution is. Acidic solutions have a lower pH, while basic solutions have a higher pH. At room temperature (25 °C), pure water is neither acidic nor basic and has a pH of 7.” - Source: Wikipedia. 
 
When brewing kombucha, you regularly test the PH levels of the brew, the reading you get is measured then standardized on the PH scale. Giving us an easy to interpret number to understand allowing for us to keep our brew within the perfect range.

 

Why Does Kombucha Need To Be Acidic?

acid_bottles

There are a few reasons kombucha needs to be acidic for both health, safety and taste. We'll delve into a few of the reasons below.
Prevent Growth Of Bacteria - Low pH levels ensure that harmful bacteria, which could cause harm or death to humans, are kept at bay. At low pH levels, it stops the breeding of unwanted bacteria. 
Flavor - The longer that kombucha is left to brew, the less sweet tasting it is. The sourer or more tart it becomes. Homebrewers often enjoy experimenting with tastes and flavors, letting it become sourer is fun to try.

 

PH Of Different Brands And Beverages

Due to the role of pH plans in producing kombucha and ensuring that it is safe to drink, we can see that the levels are all going to be very similar and within that critical range. We’ve researched a few popular brands, and although not all of them published their pH levels, we have included a couple. Also, for reference we've included other popular beverages too.
Beverage Name
pH Level
GT’s Kombucha 
2.5 - 3.5
Humm Kombucha
3.0
Homebrewed Kombucha
2.5 - 3.0
Starbucks Original Coffee
6.7
Water
6.5 - 8.5
Coca Cola
2.4


Effect Of Kombucha PH On Teeth

teeth_kombucha_decay

High acid levels in foods and drinks can wear our teeth away. Causing discoloration, tooth decay, and increased sensitivity. Calcium is a crucial ingredient to build and protect teeth, and when you consume high amounts of acid-rich drinks, then it coats our teeth. The acid then leeches calcium from our teeth.  
As kombucha is low in acidity, there may be a few suggestions to reduce the negative effect on your teeth:
Drink During Meal Times - When mixed with other foods, the exposure and contact would be less. Avoid sipping on kombucha throughout the day.
Rinse Your Mouth Out And Swallow Water - After drinking, rinse your mouth out with water to remove some of the acidic liquid left behind.
Use A Straw - To avoid a lot of the direct contact between your teeth and kombucha, drink through a straw.
Wait 30 Minutes Before Brushing - As the acid interacts with your teeth, it would soften them. Make sure you wait at least 30 minutes so your teeth would harden again.
Some of this information was collected from this excellent blog post, which further details how to stop acid erosion.
 

How To Test pH

pH is quick and simple to test. This outline for testing has been pulled from pH & Kombucha, which our full and comprehensive guide to all things pH and kombucha. There are a few methods to test pH. The main two are with an electronic reader and with litmus test strips.

Testing Kombucha pH With An Electronic Reader

1. Make sure your brew has been stirred (stir very gently just once)
2. Following your device's instructions turn your reader on and make sure it's ready
3. Place the measuring end inside the jar (move the SCOBY aside if necessary)
4. Press the measure button on your device
5. Read the pH reading
If you're happy with the corresponding pH, then you can skip the next section. If not, check out the section below, which lets you know how to lower the pH of your brew.

 

Testing Kombucha pH With Test Strips

1. Make sure your brew has been stirred (stir very gently just once)
2. Remove a piece of litmus paper from the pack
3. Place a piece of paper inside the jar to reach the brew (you may have to lift or move the SCOBY)
4. Remove the paper from the jar
5. Be in a light environment and hold up the paper to the light and use the litmus package to determine the pH of your brew
6. If you're happy with the pH, then you can leave the brew. If not, check out the section below, which lets you know how to lower the pH of your brew.

 

Common Questions

Does Kombucha Survive Stomach Acid?
This is a tricky question. We’ll assume you want to know if the probiotics within kombucha would survive. Stomach acid would kill a lot of, if not most, bacteria that enters the stomach. There is a possibility that there would be bacteria surviving and traveling through to easier to survive areas, such as the gut or bowel. So yes some probiotics could survive.
Can You Influence The PH Of Kombucha?
Yes! It’s very important to be able to influence the pH of your brew. Before starting to brew, you need to test the pH to check to see if it’s within range. If it’s not, you will likely have to lower it by adding white vinegar until it becomes the correct pH for further reading and more detailed methods, check out the kombucha & pH article.
Further Reading You May Be Interested In
Kombucha & pH 
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