Booch Gone Bad: Does Kombucha Expire After Opening?

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Have you ever drunk a vinegary, flat kombucha? It may have been expired. While it isn’t likely to make you sick, knowing the expiration of store-bought kombucha is important, as the countdown begins when you open it.

How Long Does Opened Store-Bought Kombucha Last?

If you want to drink kombucha before its taste begins to fade, it’s best to consume it within seven days of opening it. The earlier, the better. You can expect its fizz to be entirely lost after two days. Some brands may expire more quickly than others; always read the label.

How Do You Know if Kombucha is Expired?

Check the product’s expiration date. If your kombucha is unopened, stored correctly, and dated before expiration, you can drink it without thinking twice!

That said, visual and flavor cues can tell you whether the fermented drink has gone bad before or after its expiry date.

  • An overtly sour and vinegary taste indicates a kombucha that has run its course.
  • Look out for any signs of mold or cloudiness in the liquid. Mold can come in different colors (black, green, white, brown, gray, etc.) and almost always grows on the top layer of the kombucha in clumps. Its texture is fuzzy and dry.

In cases where you notice signs of cloudiness and mold growth, it’s best to throw out the drink.

Why Does Kombucha Expire?

Kombucha’s fermentation process may include fruits and added ingredients. While the acidity of the kombucha acts as a protective barrier against bad bacteria, if left out for a long time in unfavorable conditions, these ingredients can potentially grow mold or make the kombucha taste off-putting and sour.

Kombucha doesn’t only run the risk of acquiring these harmful microorganisms, but leaving it out can also unintentionally ferment it (again)—turning the drink vinegary and unpalatable.

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Is It Okay To Drink Expired Kombucha?

Exercise caution before drinking if the kombucha is past its expiration date. The drink won’t be unsalvageable per se, and in some cases, the drink can be just as good as an unexpired variant. 

Time can make it more prone to developing mold, losing flavor, and effervescence. If there are no signs of mold, expired kombucha is relatively safe to consume; it just won’t be as pleasant as a newly-brewed one.

What Happens if You Drink Expired Kombucha?

Besides an unpleasant taste, nothing. Sweet or tart, fizzy or still—kombucha’s unique in that it’s not bothered by the expiration date. Even old kombucha still has health benefits and probiotics.

Always check for mold. If you accidentally drink a bottle of kombucha with mold, contact a medical professional as soon as possible. You may experience shortness of breath, nausea, fever, stomach pains, and more.

Does Store-Bought Kombucha Need To Be Refrigerated?

Yes, you should store commercial kombucha in a cool, refrigerated space before and after opening it. There is a 48-hour window before you need to refrigerate it, but keeping it at room temperature beyond that window can contribute to a souring taste and a loss of carbonation.

While home brewers know that homemade kombucha should be kept at room temperature to kickstart the brewing process, commercial kombucha has already gone through that process. Now, you need to maintain the effervescence, living cultures, and tasteful qualities of the kombucha, which can be done through proper storage.

Keeping it in the fridge slows down and eliminates the proliferation of foreign bacteria.

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What Is the Shelf-Life of Unopened Store-Bought Kombucha?

The shelf-life of store-bought kombucha is usually between six to eight months after packaging. The specific date is indicated on the product’s label. Keep your unopened bottle of kombucha in the fridge to extend its shelf life, and keep the fermented tea carbonated and fizzy.


Joshua recently discovered flavored kombucha and has since become a fan of its taste and health properties. He's currently attempting to taste test at least 20 different kombucha flavors, and his current favorite is apple kombucha.

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