Are you a fan of hard kombucha but forgot you have one in your fridge? Are you now searching for the answer to “Does hard kombucha expire?” We have you covered.
We all know wine gets better with age, and liquor lasts the longest. However, all alcoholic beverages are made differently and thus have different shelf lives, including hard kombucha.
Both regular and hard kombucha is fermented products with a long shelf life that usually lasts from months to a year. Drinking kombucha beyond the labeled date isn’t harmful, but it won’t taste the same.
Read more about hard kombucha’s expiration date, how to tell if it expired, and tips to make it last longer.
- The Three Alcohol Levels of Kombucha
- Keeping Regular and Hard Kombucha Cool
- Is Something Wrong With Your Hard Kombucha?
- 4 Tips To Make Hard Kombucha Last Longer
- FAQs About Hard Kombucha Expiration
The Three Alcohol Levels of Kombucha
Kombucha is a fermented drink with black or green tea, sugar, and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). This beverage also has three levels of alcohol used to differentiate each type.
1. Non-Alcoholic Kombucha
It contains less than .05% alcohol by volume (ABV) and is not considered alcoholic per the US Alcohol and Tabacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
2. Traditional Kombucha
Traditional kombucha has 1 to 3% alcohol but mostly in 1.5% ABV if manufactured using the normal fermentation process.
3. Hard Kombucha
This type has more than 3% ABV and is made using double fermentation. Because of this, some consider hard kombucha as beer, but these two alcoholic beverages don’t share the same origin or production process.
If you’re looking for a new fizzy beverage to try, check out our Twisted tea vs. beer guide.
Keeping Regular and Hard Kombucha Cool
There are two things to know about storing kombucha:
- Raw kombucha needs to be refrigerated even before opening.
- Pasteurized kombucha only needs to be refrigerated after opening.
Although there is shelf-stable hard kombucha, most brands today must be refrigerated and stored at 40 to 70F or 4.5 to 21C to make them last longer.
Hard kombucha’s fermentation process includes controlling yeast and other microbes. This process is stopped by refrigeration. Failing to do so means they will continue to multiply and result in a tasteless final product.
Note that lower temperatures extend the shelf life of hard kombucha by slowing down the fermentation process. Higher temperatures speed it up, causing spoilage.
Is Something Wrong With Your Hard Kombucha?
Typically, store-bought kombucha products can last six to eight months, while homebrewed ones only last for one to three months. Kombucha brewers are legally required to put expiration and best before date on all their products to estimate optimal consumption.
It also depends on the brand. For example, the brand Kyla Hard Kombucha advised customers to consume their hard kombucha within 25 weeks from packaging to enjoy its flavor.
Here are some signs to tell if your hard kombucha has expired.
It’s Not Fizzy Anymore
Opening your kombucha and failing to see any bubbles means its fermentation has slowed down or completely stopped.
When the yeast has converted all the sugar in the hard kombucha, there won’t be any carbon dioxide left in the product responsible for your drink’s fizziness. You can still drink it, but it will taste and feel different.
Be aware of the black, greenish, or pinkish stuff floating around your hard kombucha. These are molds and signs that your drink has already gone bad. Mold can form for many reasons: temperature, carbonating process, or air getting into the drink.
It Smells Like Vinegar
Consumers describe hard kombucha as a fizzy, zingy, tart, and somewhat sweet drink. It also means that it’s normal for this product to have a slight vinegary taste and smell. It’s a natural result of fermentation and occurs with any kombucha product that has been chilled for a few months or sat on the counter for a few weeks or more.
If you don’t drink directly from the bottle or can, it’s safe to consume. However, if its smell already makes you gag and is far from the vinegary scent kombucha has, throw it away.
It Has Undissolved Sugar
Undissolved sugar at the bottom of the bottle or can is also a sign that your hard kombucha is old or expired. Because of fermentation, the sugar turns into alcohol or acids, meaning there is not enough alcohol to kill all the yeast cells as fermentation continues after opening the bottle. However, it can be fixed by re-capping and placing it in the fridge for another week or so.
4 Tips To Make Hard Kombucha Last Longer
Some kombuchas can be expensive, so it’ll be a bummer for them to be spoiled right away. Here are the best tips to avoid spoiling your hard kombucha to enjoy it longer.
Tip #1: Store It In The Ideal Temperature
Keeping your hard kombucha at the perfect temperature of 40°F not only prolongs its shelf life but also allows you to enjoy the authentic taste of this beverage. An opened regular bottle of kombucha can spend at least 48 hours outside the fridge and still be drinkable.
On the other hand, an opened hard kombucha can last longer, at less than 72 hours, without too much difference in taste.
Tip #2: Avoid Adding Sweetened Tea And Recapping It Again
Adding more sweet tea to your hard kombucha and re-capping will fix the lack of fizziness.
However, this can create molds because of the air that gets in your drink. To avoid this, properly seal your bottles after adding sweetened tea. Another way is to buy hard kombucha in small cans or bottles to consume what you can.
tip #3: Check The Expiration Date
The best way to ensure that your hard kombucha will not spoil quickly is by checking its expiration date before or upon purchasing. This way, you will immediately know how long it will take to drink. If there’s no expiration date, remember that hard kombuchas will only last six to eight months after production.
Tip #4: Keep It Away From Direct Light And Contaminants
Fresh homebrewed hard kombucha should be kept in a container with enough airflow away from direct light and covered entirely with a cloth for one to three days before putting it in your fridge. This is to avoid slowing down or stopping the fermentation process. You should also store it away from other contaminants and other fermentation projects like kefir and kimchi to prevent molding.
FAQs About Hard Kombucha Expiration
How Long Is Hard Kombucha Good For?
Depending on how the hard kombucha is stored, some brands claim that their products can last from six to eight months. Keeping it cool and chilled will also make it last longer than the labeled date.
Does Kombucha Have An Expiration Date?
Kombucha products have an expiration date.
Kombucha brewers, mainly Canadians, are legally required to put “Expiration Date” and “Best Before” on their labels. Consume opened kombucha within a week. Homebrewed kombucha lasts up to three months.
Can Expire Kombucha Make You Sick?
While some sources say it’s safe to drink expired kombucha, it’s best not to. Consuming expired kombucha can have different results depending on a person’s health, aside from the changed taste of the drink.
How Do I Know If My Kombucha Is Bad?
You can tell your kombucha has gone bad if it doesn’t have bubbles anymore and has green or pinkish molds floating around. Although kombucha has a light vinegary taste, once it has an off-putting taste and smell, toss it into the bin.