While kombucha unrefrigerated is generally safe to drink, if left out too long it may start to lose flavour and develop a vinegar-like taste. It also can become extra fizzy and lose some of its health benefits.
It’s best to store finished kombucha in the fridge once the fermentation process is complete. This will slow down the process, prevent over-fermentation and keep the kombucha fresh for longer. If you do leave it out, be sure to check the bottle each day. It’s ready to be refrigerated when you hear a soft pop and see bubbles rising up to the surface of the liquid.
On the Counter: The Science and Safety of Keeping Kombucha Unrefrigerated
To make kombucha at home, you will need a large stockpot (8-quart or larger) and a 1-gallon glass jar for the actual brewing process. You will also need a finely-woven flour sack dishcloth (or two cloths, napkins, or other lint-free materials) to cover the jar and allow air flow in but keep bugs and dust out. You will need one SCOBY starter culture to ferment the tea. Finally, you will need filtered or dechlorinated water and sugar.
A SCOBY, or Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, is the fermentation starter that kicks off the kombucha fermentation process. The SCOBY contains lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid bacteria, as well as yeast. The SCOBY and the tea it ferments provide a host of digestive benefits, as well as immune system support and joint health. Many people report success with using kombucha to help ease symptoms of arthritis, allergies, obesity, high blood pressure and other conditions.