Kombucha is a fermented drink, so it can contain alcohol. However, it typically only has trace amounts and is considered nonalcoholic.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) considers kombucha nonalcoholic if it contains less than 0.5% alcohol. This level applies to most kombucha products on grocery store shelves.
However, home-brewed versions may contain more alcohol. Some beverages, often called hard kombucha, have a longer brewing time than usual and contain a higher alcohol percentage.
This article explains how much alcohol is in kombucha and safety precautions.
Yes, kombucha contains small amounts of alcohol. These trace levels are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. They preserve the brew and protect it from potentially harmful microorganisms.
Kombucha fermentation involves using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) to ferment sweetened tea. The SCOBY, also known as the “mother” or “mushroom,” is a slimy, gelatinous disc that contains a mixture of bacteria and yeast.
During fermentation, the SCOBY may also produce a small amount of alcohol as a byproduct.
However, the alcohol content of kombucha is typically very low, usually less than 0.5% by volume. If the fermentation process is not controlled correctly, the alcohol content can increase, leading to a more alcoholic beverage.
Kombucha contains a trace amount of alcohol, but the TTB does not classify it as an alcoholic drink if it contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. However, if it contains more alcohol by volume, TTB regulations will apply.
The amount of alcohol in kombucha can vary by commercial brand. However, homemade varieties may also differ, as many home brewers may not control the processes in the same way as commercial manufacturers.
Most commercially available kombucha products contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. The TTB tightly controls the alcohol content of kombucha, and all products must be appropriately labeled.
To ensure that kombucha meets these regulations, manufacturers use techniques to control the alcohol content of their products. For example, they may use a shorter fermentation time or a lower sugar content to limit the amount of alcohol produced during fermentation.
They also test their products regularly to meet the TTB’s alcohol content requirements.
When it comes to homemade kombucha, the alcohol content can vary depending on several factors, including:
- fermentation time
- sugar content
- storage temperature
Most homemade kombucha likely contains less than 0.5% alcohol. However, the alcohol content can increase if a person does not control the fermentation process correctly.
Because homemade kombucha is not subject to the same regulations as commercially available kombucha, the individual brewer is responsible for ensuring their product meets safety and quality standards. This includes monitoring the alcohol content of the kombucha and taking steps to control the fermentation process.
Hard kombucha has been allowed to ferment longer. This produces a higher alcohol content than traditional kombucha.
While the alcohol content of hard kombucha can vary depending on the brand and the brewing process, it typically contains around 4–7% alcohol by volume. Therefore, the TTB considers hard kombucha an alcoholic beverage and subjects it to the same regulations as beer and wine.
The TTB stipulates that hard kombucha must be labeled and regulated as an alcoholic beverage. Furthermore, it is unsuitable for consumption by minors or individuals who are pregnant or have certain medical conditions.
However, some people have raised safety concerns that consumers should be aware of. These include the risk of contamination, the potential for allergic reactions, and the risk of overconsumption.
Contamination is a potential risk when brewing kombucha at home, as the fermentation process can create an environment favorable to the growth of harmful bacteria and mold. In addition, some individuals may be allergic to the bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY or other ingredients used in the recipe.
A person may also overconsume kombucha and experience side effects related to the trace amounts of alcohol or high acid content.
Kombucha fermentation involves using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast to ferment sweetened tea. As a result, it contains trace levels of alcohol.
However, commercial kombucha is labeled nonalcoholic when it contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume.
If people make kombucha at home, they must follow proper brewing techniques and monitor the alcohol content to ensure it remains within safe limits.