If you’re starting to brew kombucha at home, you might be wondering how to test the pH of your first ferment. When I was brand new to brewing kombucha, I had no idea what a SCOBY was (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), let alone what the proper pH level should be. Checking your pH level can help you to understand if your kombucha has fermented long enough — and more importantly, whether it’s ready to enjoy!
Here are answers to some common questions about pH as it pertains to brewing kombucha:
What is kombucha pH?
Kombucha pH is a measurement of the acidity in your kombucha brew. For reference, the pH reading of water is around a seven, which is neither acidic nor alkaline. Vinegar is a two on the pH scale, which is acidic.
When you’re first starting out as a home brewer, it is important to measure the pH of your brew. It is best to let your first batch ferment for 7 to 10 days (also called first ferment). Measure your pH level on day 7 to check your progress. By doing this, you will be able to understand if your sweet tea has fermented long enough (and if your SCOBY has eaten enough sugar!) to be considered kombucha.
If you’re interested in understanding more about general pH spectrum as it pertains to food, check out this informative article on mindbodygreen.com.
What is the appropriate kombucha pH level?
The best pH meter reading for kombucha is a pH reading of 2.5 to 3.5. My kombucha brew usually ends up being around a 3. If you use pH strips, they come with a guide that shows exactly which color coincides with which pH reading.
How do you lower the pH level?
If you’re looking to lower your kombucha pH level, simply put the brew back in a safe spot away from direct sunlight to ferment longer. In the event that you have already let your kombucha ferment for the recommended seven to ten days, start checking daily until you reach the desired pH level. Assuming you are like me, you might have tried to check your pH level before the seventh day. 😉 (I usually start getting antsy around day five). If this is the case, put your brew back and enlist your patience until at least day seven.
The longer you leave your kombucha brew to ferment, the lower your pH reading will be.
What is the best PH meter for kombucha?
I personally use pH strips to check the pH level during first ferment. I use strips over fancy gadgets because they are easy to use and super inexpensive. It really isn’t necessary to purchase a more expensive pH meter because you’ll likely stop testing for pH all together once you have your brew established.
The ultimate way to test kombucha readiness is the taste test! As you continue on your kombucha-brewing journey, you’ll start to know when your first ferment is right by the flavor. The kombucha won’t taste like sweet tea any longer because the SCOBY will have eaten most of the sugar during the fermentation process. It also won’t taste too acidic (or like vinegar) when fermented for the recommended amount of time.
Where can you find pH strips?
You can buy very inexpensive pH strips online or at your local home brew retailer. I purchased my strips on Amazon for $4.47.
I hope this information helps you perfect your next kombucha brew!
All about pH (VIDEO!)
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About LeeAnn Neumann
Hi, I’m LeeAnn! I’m a boy mom, dog mom, crazy cat lady, and beach-living pizza lover living in Charleston, SC (and Minneapolis, MN!). I love creating recipes that have a major flavor impact without completely sacrificing healthy ingredients. Outside of recipe creation and kid-wrangling, I’m a kombucha brewer and professional photographer (Chucktown Art). I try to experience my local foodie scene(s) as often as possible, and I love sharing my food-focused experiences!