Depending on the brand or type of kombucha, there are many variables to consider, mainly: bacteria, pasteurization, alcohol content, and caffeine.
Pregnant kombucha-fans often wonder: Is kombucha safe during pregnancy? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as “yes” or “no.” It is as complex as kombucha itself, and every person’s pregnancy decisions are highly personal. Depending on the brand or type of kombucha, there are many variables to consider, mainly: bacteria, pasteurization, alcohol content, and caffeine. While we can’t tell you which choice to make, we do want to ensure you have all the facts so that you can make an informed decision that works for you and helps you trust your gut!
Bacteria & Pasteurization:
Seeking inspiration from our ancestral roots, and tapping into the traditional practices and wisdom of those before us, our family of living drinks are raw, unpasteurized, and fermented following a 2,000-year-old craft brewing tradition. We use living cultures and the finest raw and organic fruit juices, medicinal herbs and root infusions.
Much of the benefit of drinking kombucha comes from its billions of living beneficial bacteria (probiotics), which are essential for good digestive health. We would never consider pasteurizing (heating to death) all of those wonderful naturally occurring live and active cultures.
Unpasteurized products are often advised to be avoided during pregnancy. Though raw and living kombucha is not pasteurized, the health risks are much different than other unpasteurized food products like milk and cheese due to acidity. Most commercial kombucha brewers like us follow good manufacturing practices that require pH levels to be tested on every batch. When kept below the correct threshold, the pH of kombucha inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria (E.Coli, listeria, etc.). Additionally, at Buchi we are proud to be officially SQF certified, meaning we are audited to a globally-recognized third-party certification, ensuring the highest standards for food safety and quality assurance.
Kombucha is a fermented beverage. Due to the fermentation process and the presence of yeasts necessary for that process, there are trace amounts of alcohol in kombucha. However, most kombucha you see on the shelves in your local grocery store is not considered an alcoholic beverage. How can this be?
Well, to be in compliance with current laws set forth by regulatory agencies, kombucha must test under the 0.5% ABV limit to be considered a “non-alcoholic beverage.” The trace amounts of alcohol found in a properly fermented kombucha are non-inebriating, but serve the dual function of drawing out the medicinal properties from the herbal ingredients and serving as a natural preservative.
We do rigorous laboratory testing to ensure that the ABV of all our kombucha is well below 0.5% (where it will stay as long as it is refrigerated correctly during storage). While this amount of alcohol is often considered negligible, many who are pregnant choose to avoid any amount of alcohol - even the trace amounts found in kombucha.
Obviously, brewing kombucha at home has limitations when it comes to regulating and testing alcohol content. Additionally, there is increased risk that home-brewed kombucha may be contaminated with harmful pathogens. For these reasons, kombucha brewed at home is often suggested to be avoided during pregnancy.
Another factor to consider when pregnant is caffeine intake. Because kombucha is brewed using black and/or green tea, there is caffeine involved. The question is, how much? The ratio of the tea blend, the period of time the tea leaves steep, and how long the kombucha ferments are all factors that play a role in how much caffeine remains in the end product.
While the caffeine content will increase with longer steep times, it will decrease the longer it is fermented. It’s all about balance, baby! The more time the tea is left hanging out in hot water, the more caffeine is allowed to seep into the blend. Alternatively, the fermentation process allows yeast and bacteria to consume much, if not most, of the caffeine.
The organic teas we use in our kombucha do have caffeine, but almost all of it is consumed during fermentation. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, current research suggests that less than 200mg of caffeine per day is considered safe during pregnancy. A bottle of Buchi kombucha has about the same amount of caffeine as a white tea or decaffeinated coffee (1-2mg). While most people deem this a trivial amount, if you have a caffeine sensitivity, or are trying to avoid caffeine completely, you might want to avoid kombucha.
Kombucha During Pregnancy: Summary
As we said at the beginning, there is no “yes” or “no” answer to this question. As always, we recommend speaking directly with your healthcare provider to assess your individual risk of consuming kombucha during pregnancy. No hard feelings if you choose to wait a while before picking up another booch.
And congratulations on your pregnancy! We can’t wait to have one more Buchi fan in the family! ;)