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Does Kombucha Go Bad If Left Out?

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to kombucha when it’s left out, you’re not alone. Kombucha, a popular fermented tea beverage, undergoes continuous changes in taste and composition when stored at room temperature.

The impact of leaving kombucha out can be surprising, affecting everything from its flavor to its alcohol content to its carbonation levels.

Let’s delve into the details and find out what happens when kombucha is left out.

Key Takeaways:

  • Leaving kombucha at room temperature allows fermentation to continue, resulting in changes in taste, carbonation, caffeine content, alcohol content, and calorie levels.
  • Kombucha stored in the refrigerator slows down the fermentation process, maintaining the desired taste profile for longer periods of time.
  • Refrigerating kombucha between 0 to 6 degrees Celsius helps preserve its freshness and characteristics, while inhibiting the growth of pathogens.
  • The shelf life of kombucha can be indefinite when stored in the refrigerator, but it may lose carbonation and develop an off smell over time.
  • If kombucha is left unrefrigerated for less than 48 hours, it is still safe to consume, but longer periods may result in changes in taste and increased carbonation.

Does Kombucha Go Bad If Left Out?

Kombucha is a fermented drink that can continue to ferment if left unrefrigerated. This can cause the kombucha to taste too sour or fizzy, and in some cases, it can cause the bottle to explode due to the buildup of carbon dioxide.

Some recommend not drinking kombucha if it has been left out of refrigeration beyond 48 hours. Others recommend keeping kombucha chilled in a refrigerator between 1 – 5 °C.

True live raw kombucha should never be left out of refrigeration.

The Effect of Room Temperature on Kombucha

When it comes to kombucha, room temperature plays a significant role in the fermentation process and the overall changes that occur in the beverage. At room temperature, the live bacteria and yeast in kombucha continue to feed off the sugar present in the brew. This ongoing fermentation process leads to several notable changes in the composition of kombucha.

One key change that occurs at room temperature is the reduction of sugar content. As the bacteria consume the sugar, it gets converted into various organic acids, resulting in a decrease in sweetness. This reduction in sugar content can enhance the tangy and tart flavors that kombucha is known for.

Along with decreased sugar content, the caffeine level and calorie count in kombucha can also decrease over time when stored at room temperature. The live bacteria feed off the caffeine present in the tea used to brew kombucha, resulting in a gradual reduction of its caffeine content. Similarly, the bacteria also consume some of the carbohydrates in kombucha, contributing to a decrease in its calorie count.

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While kombucha is still considered a nonalcoholic beverage, the alcohol content of kombucha can increase when fermented at room temperature. This increase in alcohol content is a result of the natural fermentation process, where yeast converts sugar into alcohol. However, commercially available kombucha typically contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume, which is considered negligible and falls within the nonalcoholic category.

Another interesting effect of room temperature storage is the carbonation level of kombucha. When stored in an airtight bottle at room temperature, the carbonation in kombucha can increase over time. This is due to the ongoing fermentation process that produces carbon dioxide as a byproduct, leading to an increase in the fizziness of the beverage.

The Importance of Refrigerating Kombucha

Refrigerating kombucha is essential for maintaining its freshness and preserving its taste profile over time. By storing kombucha at temperatures between 0 to 6 degrees Celsius, the process of fermentation is slowed down significantly. This ensures that the kombucha maintains its desired characteristics, such as the sugar content and overall taste.

Unlike many other beverages, kombucha does not require any preservatives due to its low pH level, which naturally inhibits the growth of pathogens.

Refrigeration is especially crucial for kombucha, as it helps keep the live bacteria and yeast in a state of dormancy. This state of dormancy slows down the fermentation process, allowing the kombucha to retain its freshness for longer periods of time. By refrigerating kombucha, you can enjoy a consistently great-tasting and quality beverage.

Additionally, refrigeration helps maintain the carbonation levels of kombucha. When stored at the optimal temperature range, kombucha retains its effervescence, enhancing the overall drinking experience.

The cool environment of the fridge prevents excessive carbonation, ensuring that the kombucha remains refreshing and enjoyable until it is consumed.

Benefits of Refrigerating Kombucha

Benefits Description
Preserves Taste Profile Slows down fermentation, maintaining the desired flavor and sweetness.
Retains Freshness Keeps the kombucha fresh by slowing down the growth of bacteria and yeast.
Prolongs Shelf Life Helps extend the storage time of kombucha without compromising its quality.
Maintains Carbonation Prevents excessive carbonation and preserves the effervescence of the beverage.

By refrigerating kombucha, you can ensure that each bottle or batch maintains its optimal taste, freshness, and quality. Incorporating refrigeration into your kombucha storage routine will enhance your overall enjoyment of this popular fermented beverage.

Does Kombucha Go Bad If Left Out-2

Shelf Life of Kombucha

When it comes to the shelf life of kombucha, storage plays a crucial role in maintaining its freshness and taste. While kombucha can last indefinitely when stored in the refrigerator, there are a few factors to consider.

If the taste of the kombucha is still enjoyable, it can be consumed even after a long period of time. However, after an extended duration, the carbonation in kombucha may decrease, resulting in a flat texture. Additionally, kombucha may develop a yeasty or foul smell, indicating that it is past its prime.

On the other hand, leaving kombucha at room temperature can accelerate the fermentation process, causing it to become too sour to consume within 7-10 days. This is why refrigeration is the recommended method for prolonging the shelf life of kombucha.

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Commercial kombucha brands often mention an expiration date of 60-90 days. These guidelines are put in place to ensure that consumers enjoy the kombucha at its freshest and intended taste.

To summarize, here are the key guidelines for the shelf life of kombucha:

  1. Store kombucha in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness.
  2. If the taste is still enjoyable, kombucha can be consumed even after a long period.
  3. Check for changes in carbonation and smell to assess the quality of kombucha.
  4. At room temperature, kombucha may become too sour to consume within 7-10 days.
  5. Follow the expiration date provided by commercial kombucha brands for the best taste experience.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure that your kombucha remains fresh and enjoyable for a longer period of time.

Storing Kombucha: Common Questions

If you’re wondering how to store kombucha and whether it’s safe to leave it unrefrigerated for a short period of time, let me address some common questions.

Is unrefrigerated kombucha safe to consume?

If you accidentally left your kombucha unrefrigerated for less than 48 hours, don’t worry, it’s still safe to drink. However, keep in mind that leaving it out for longer periods can lead to increased carbonation and changes in taste.

How should I store kombucha for picnics or hikes?

If you’re planning a picnic or hike and want to bring along some kombucha, it’s best to store it in a refrigerator or a cooler. This will help maintain its desired taste and prevent any changes that may occur if left unrefrigerated.

What about opened bottles of kombucha?

If you’ve already opened a bottle of kombucha, you can still keep it in the refrigerator until the best before date. However, please note that the flavor profile and live culture content may slightly change over time.

To summarize, storing kombucha in a refrigerator or cooler is the best way to preserve its freshness and taste, especially when taking it on the go for picnics or hikes. While unrefrigerated kombucha can still be consumed within a certain timeframe, it’s recommended to refrigerate it for optimal enjoyment.


In conclusion, it is recommended to refrigerate kombucha in order to maintain its freshness, taste, and consistency over time. While kombucha does not spoil like milk or produce, it undergoes continuous fermentation and undergoes changes in taste if left unrefrigerated.

Storing kombucha in the refrigerator helps preserve its desired characteristics and extends its shelf life. By keeping kombucha chilled, you can enjoy it at its best for a longer period of time.

Remember to follow the recommended storage guidelines for kombucha to ensure the best taste experience. By refrigerating the beverage, you can maintain its quality and flavors, allowing you to savor its unique and refreshing qualities whenever you choose to indulge in a bottle of kombucha.