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Kombucha Tea: Does It Contain Alcohol?

Kombucha tea is a mildly sweet drink that is slightly acidic. It is increasingly common within the health world and has been eaten and promoted as a healing elixir for thousands of years. Many studies have linked kombucha tea to many possible health benefits, including improved digestion, reduced "bad" LDL cholesterol, and improved control of blood sugar.

Some individuals are however, worried about the possible alcohol content.

What Is Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha tea is a fermented drink which is thought to have originated in China. It is produced in black or green tea by adding certain strains of bacteria, yeast and sugar. This mixture is left to remain at room temperature to ferment for a few weeks.

Bacteria and yeast form a mushroom-like film on the tea's surface during fermentation. This film is known as SCOBY, a living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Since it adds carbon dioxide, alcohol, acetic acid and other acidic substances, as well as probiotic bacteria, fermentation gives kombucha tea its specific characteristics.


Does It Contain Alcohol?

The breakdown of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide requires fermentation. As a consequence of this, kombucha tea contains small quantities of alcohol. Since they contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol, commercial kombucha teas are labelled 'non-alcoholic'.

Homebrewed kombucha teas, however, tend to have a considerably higher alcohol content. In addition, some homebrews have as much as 3% alcohol or higher. Most people shouldn't care about the alcohol content of commercial kombucha teas.

However, as it may contain significantly higher amounts of alcohol, pregnant or breastfeeding females should avoid drinking homebrewed kombucha tea. Throughout pregnancy, federal agencies recommend avoiding alcohol.

Homebrewed kombucha tea, moreover is unpasteurized and may increase the chances of miscarriage. As alcohol can pass through breast milk, breastfeeding mothers may want to avoid homebrewed kombucha as well.


Concerns

Kombucha tea has other properties, aside from its alcohol content, that may pose certain risks.

Here are some common concerns about kombucha teas.


Unpasteurized

Pasteurization is a process that involves the application of high heat to liquids or foods. This method is designed to kill harmful bacteria and has reduced the risk of tuberculosis, diphtheria, listeriosis and many other diseases significantly.

Some types of kombucha teas are unpasteurized, especially homebrewed varieties, and may host potentially harmful bacteria. Homebrewed kombucha tea should be avoided by people with weakened immune systems, older adults, children and pregnant women, because if it carries harmful bacteria, it can cause serious harm.


Consist of Caffeine

Kombucha tea is produced by the fermentation of black or green tea, which naturally contains caffeine. While caffeine has health benefits, because of its side effects, such as restlessness, anxiety, poor sleep and headaches, some people choose to avoid it. Kombucha tea may not be right for you if you refrain from caffeine.


May Cause Headaches or Migraines

Fermented foods and beverages can be high in tyramine, a naturally occurring amino acid, such as kombucha. Although it is unclear why it occurs, several studies have linked tyramine intake in some individuals to headaches and migraines. Consider abstaining if drinking kombucha tea gives you headaches or migraines.


Homebrewed Varieties May Be Dangerous

Homebrewed kombucha teas are considered riskier than alternatives purchased from the store. That's because there is a higher probability of contamination in homebrewed kombucha, which can cause serious health problems and even death.

Keep in mind that homebrewed varieties can contain alcohol of up to 3 percent. Be sure to prepare it properly if you make kombucha tea at home. It's best to drink store-bought options if you worry about contamination.


To Sum It Up

Kombucha is a fermented drink that is associated with many potential health advantages. Commercial kombucha tea, as it contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol, is labeled non-alcoholic. Homebrewed versions can contain substantially higher amounts of alcohol and if improperly prepared, can pose several other health risks. Alcohol in commercial kombucha teas should not be a problem for most. It should however be avoided by individuals with alcohol addictions as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.

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