How Long Does Kombucha Last After Opening?

After trying that first bottle of kombucha, you might be asking, How Long Does Kombucha Last After Opening? Let’s take a look at kombucha: how long it is good for, and how you can tell if it has gone bad.

Wooden cutting board on a table. On top of cutting board is a small glass of kombucha, a large jar with kombucha and a SCOBY in it. Also on the cutting board are small bowls of sugar and tea, plus two more jars of kombucha.

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How Long Does Kombucha Last After Opening?

After opening, kombucha probiotic drinks will last 5 to 7 days. When refrigerated after opening, kombucha will last for a week. Once opened, kombucha will start to lose some of it’s fizz. Unopened kombucha, if refrigerated, can last up to 4 months.

Kombucha is an acidic drink containing beneficial bacteria and yeast. The starter culture, known as a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) provides the necessary yeast and bacteria to ferment the sweet tea that you start with.

Because it is acidic and contains good bacteria, kombucha does not grow mold easily. However, it will continue to ferment if left out in room temperature. Once your fermented beverage has reached it’s desired flavor, refrigerate to halt the fermentation process.

Kombucha found in health food stores, like GT’s kombucha, should have an expiration date listed some where on the bottle. This is an easy guideline for kombucha you have purchased.

If your kombucha has been left out, opened, for along period of time, or it has a strong, off taste and/or foul smell, these are signs of bad kombucha.

If you are brewing your own kombucha but notice that your symbiotic colony of bacteria is an off color, or looks generally unhealthy, then it maybe best to throw it all out and start again.

Top view of a jar with a SCOBY floating on top. Next to the jar on a table is a white towel, ginger root, lemon sliced, red and white kitchen twine, and a small strainer with loose black tea

How Should Kombucha Be Stored?

If you have purchased store-bought kombucha brands, they should should be refrigerated and you should adhere to the best-by date or expiration date on the bottle.

If you brew your own homemade kombucha, then once you have finished brewing or have completed your second ferment, it should be stored properly.

Typically you will brew your kombucha from 7 to 30 days, depending on if you like your fermented tea drink less or more acidic. If you choose to start a second ferment with fruit or fruit juice, this usually takes another 2 to 4 days.

If left to ferment too long, you will have kombucha vinegar which works great as a vinegar substitute for salad dressings, a hair rinse, or even any homemade cleaning products using vinegar. Over-fermented kombucha is not harmful, it just has a stronger more tart taste.

To store your fermented drink properly you want to pour it into glass bottles or jars with an airtight lid. This will help to keep it fresh and fizzy for a long time.

You will then want to store your finished kombucha in the refrigerator or in a root cellar at a cold temperature until you are ready to drink it.

Keeping the kombucha cold not only makes it a more refreshing drink, but it slows the fermentation process so that it does not over develop.

4 jars of kombucha brewing with SCOBY starter cultures floating on top

Why Is Kombucha Stored in Dark Bottles?

Have you ever noticed that many store purchased bottles of kombucha are in a dark amber glass? Ever wondered why?

We have talked about kombucha containing beneficial bacteria, but what does that mean? The beneficial bacteria or probiotics in many fermented food and drinks, like kombucha, are actually live cultures.

Think about sourdough, have you ever looked at a starter and have seen it full of bubbles? Or have even seen a picture of a starter all full of bubbles?

Those live active cultures are actively digesting and fermenting the sugars in those starter mediums. In sourdough, the sugar is found in the flour. In kombucha, the sugar is found in the sweet tea.

The live probiotics in your kombucha tea are not a fan of direct light. As mentioned below, direct ultraviolet can slow the growth of these living cultures or even kill them.

Why Does Kombucha Need a Dark Place?

In addition to storing kombucha in amber bottles, this finicky drink is not a fan of light at any part of the fermentation process.

Direct light can actually halt the fermentation of your probiotic drink by slowing the activity of the live yeast.

Blocking out all UV light can keep your SCOBY and all of the beneficial bacteria healthy and happy. You can block out the light keeping your brewing kombucha in a dark place with a cloth draped over it.

In addition to light, make sure to keep your kombucha away from extreme heat or cold. Kombucha loves a cozy temperature between 72 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Low temperatures heading toward the 60’s will cause your SCOBY to go into dormancy. High temperatures heading toward 90 and above will kill your SCOBY.

Warm temperatures, such as 80 degrees Fahrenheit and above will encourage fermentation, which in turn produces carbon dioxide which means excess carbonation.

Remember that this means that kombucha needs “burped” often so that your bottle does not explode.

Caucasian appearing hands holding a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast used to make Kombucha. Below is a jar of kombucha sitting on a wood table

Kombucha Storage and Final Thoughts…

Whether you keep your fizzy drink in flip top bottles or mason jars. Or you store kombucha in clear or amber bottles. In a dark pantry or on your counter covered up with a pretty kitchen towel.

The best way to store your ‘buch is by following the guidelines above. Kombucha lovers may not have much concern about the expiry date of their beloved fermented drink, because it probably doesn’t stay in the bottle long enough to go bad.

But we all know life can get busy and you need to know what you can do to keep your fizzy drink at its best quality.

Whether you just love the taste of this fermented tea or you consume it for gut health, hopefully you have found information here that will give your favorite drink a long shelf life while preventing bad bacteria or mold growth from taking hold.

It is always a good idea, with any grocery store fermented product to keep an eye on the use-by date, and make sure to use unopened bottles before they reach this date.

So now that you know how long kombucha will last, you can safely enjoy this fermented drink and all of its benefits.

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