Living with Dyslexia in Malaysia

Why white sugar?


Q I am very health-conscious – do I have to use white sugar?

A Many health-conscious people are surprised to be told to use refined white sugar in making Kombucha tea and ask whether there is an alternative.


Just as we need various sugars in order to survive, the Kombucha culture requires sugar and energy, in addition to the minerals and nitrogen it gets from tea, in order for the process of metabolism to take place. The culture cannot provide its own, therefore you have to provide sugar for it. Sugar is used in assimilation and respiration for most of the fermentation, and during its course is broken down and transformed into acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and carbon dioxide. Sugar is also involved in the propagation of the Kombucha culture. At the end of the fermentation period, if done correctly, the sugar will have been virtually all converted and will therefore have been rendered harmless.

Various sugars need to be looked at in order to establish which is better to use for the Kombucha fermentation:

     Household Sugar (granulated) – is refined white sugar and is called sucrose.

     Brown Sugar – most brown sugars, generally considered a more healthy choice than white, are only refined white sugar which has got its colour from a small amount of caramel or molasses added to it.

     Unrefined Brown Sugar – this is raw sugar and has a very strong flavour.

     Raw Cane Sugar – is made mostly into refined white sugar with the remainder steam-heated and sold as pure    cane sugar.

     Pure Cane Sugar – is a healthier alternative to granulated white sugar and contains vitamins, minerals and   trace elements etc.

     In tests using both unrefined brown sugar and raw cane sugar in the Kombucha fermentation the following  results were found:

     The solution was dark and cloudy

     The taste was quite unpleasant

     A poorly-formed culture had formed

     There was more yeast sediment

     It contained fewer health-giving organic acids

We decided from this, and from other research and information, that unrefined or raw brown sugar was not suitable for the Kombucha fermentation. Refined white sugar – either granulated or pure cane sugar – is preferable because:

     It is transformed during the fermentation process

     It provides a good nutrient solution for the metabolism of the Kombucha tea

     A healthy culture forms on which to propagate further

     It produces a beverage high in organic acids

     It makes a good and palatable drink


June 23, 2007 - Posted by | Kombucha


  1. Hi there,

    Have you found any refined white sugar that’s also organic? I’ve been searching, because when making certain ice cream flavors, the organic evaporated cane sugars impart a strange taste. Thank you!

    Comment by Beth Budwig | February 5, 2008 | Reply

  2. i come across your blog recently, and i am interested to try the kombucha drink. from my reading, it need the starter culture. can you please let me know where can i access to the starter culture, i am from kampar perak. thanks

    Comment by lyetpin | May 12, 2008 | Reply

  3. I was seriously considering trying it with brown sugar, but I’m glad I read this. Thank you for talking about this.

    Comment by Tatiana Racheva | May 19, 2008 | Reply

  4. What about powdered organic white sugar? Is it just crushed up granulated sugar? Are there any advantages or disadvantages?

    Comment by Tiffany Raines | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  5. Hi, i used raw cane sugar before I read this site and it seems like some yeast formed and also it became brown and cloudy. I was wondering, is it possible to rescue the culture? If I drain it and add in pure cane sugar, would that fix it or would I have to get a brand new culture?

    Comment by ALex | March 5, 2009 | Reply

  6. We read somewhere that adding some brown sugar to the brew is very helpful if you use green tea for 50% or more of the recipe. Every time we’ve done it, though, many of the above effects happen but worst is the smell, which is far *funkier* than the usual ACV kombucha odor. I say stay out of the brown sugar for this business.

    Comment by Jim | March 12, 2009 | Reply

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