As the popularity of hard kombucha continues to rise, so does curiosity about "How much alcohol is in kombucha?" While there is not a straight answer, we believe we can help clear up some of the confusion on the topic. Let’s go!
Does kombucha contain alcohol?
Would you believe us if we said “yes,” but also “no?” As we’ve discussed before, 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 (therefore: “yes”). However, most kombucha you see on the shelves in your local grocery store is not considered an alcoholic beverage (hence: “no”). 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.
So, how much alcohol is in kombucha?
Although alcohol is a natural by-product of fermentation, the exact amount of alcohol produced in each batch depends on a myriad of factors - the primary variables being fermentation time and yeast variety. Similar to how tea steep times affect the amount of caffeine, fermentation times affect the amount of alcohol that is produced.
Additionally, many commercial brewers use various processes for removing alcohol from their brews. Each method presents its own sets of challenges. In regards to Buchi, our in-house lab technicians have spent and continue to spend countless hours reading, researching, testing and experimenting, to perfect a process that works best for our kombucha. Our proprietary process uses many tools, however they do not involve nor require the use of preservative chemicals.
How much alcohol is in BUCHI kombucha?
We do rigorous laboratory testing to ensure that the ABV of all our kombucha is below 0.5% (where it will stay as long as it is refrigerated correctly during storage). An ABV below 0.5% means that our kombucha is classified as a non-alcoholic beverage. The kefir soda that we make goes through a similar fermentation process, and therefore also has an ABV of less than 0.5%.
What is “hard kombucha?”
“Hard kombucha” is higher-alcohol kombucha, appealing to those over 21 looking for an alternative to classic bar choices, and can be achieved in a few ways. One way is simply adding alcohol to a finished kombucha brew. Another method is similar to traditional kombucha, with the addition of multiple fermentation processes, increasing the alcohol content. After the initial fermentation process, many companies add additional sugar and yeast to jumpstart another fermentation, converting the sugar to more alcohol. Depending on the brand, alcohol levels can vary from 3% to about 8%. Research surrounding the presence of probiotics in hard kombucha is still ongoing.
How much kombucha can I drink in a day?
Our best answer to this question is: listen to your body. Many people (including us!) drink at least one kombucha per day, often more. However, it is important to tune in to your body and recognize how it responds.
Can I drink kombucha if I am a recovering alcoholic?
We believe and respect that everyone’s journey with alcohol is unique. If you are struggling in your relationship to alcohol and do not wish to consume a beverage with any alcohol content, kombucha is likely not for you.
Alternatively, we have heard from many individuals who have quit drinking that kombucha has played a key role in their sobriety journey. Fizzy, fermented beverages are often a comfortable substitute for beer or cocktails. A recent study uncovered a direct link between gut bacteria diversity and maintaining sobriety. Recovering alcoholics with a diverse microbiome were more successful at remaining sober than those without.
Ultimately, this is a deeply complex and individual decision. We understand that everyone’s body may react differently to fermented beverages, so again, it is always important to listen to your body (and your doctor). Also, if you have a sensitivity to alcohol for dietetic, religious, or personal reasons, we suggest refraining from consuming kombucha all-together.
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