Can You Get Drunk on Kombucha Tea?
Did you know that Kombucha contains alcohol? In this post we take a look at the actual alcohol levels which can be expected to develop in kombucha, as well as what this means for consumers.
Recently kombucha has been garnering some publicity from its alcohol content! Usually making headlines for its health benefits, kombucha has now been attracting some less all round positive attention. This time for its potential to become slightly boozy.
This topic of latent alcohol levels in kombucha deserves some breaking down. While the actual levels of alcohol present in the average batch of kombucha are sometimes inflated, they are present. This is something that potential consumers or brewers need to take into consideration.
Range of Alcohol Levels Which Can be Present in Kombucha
Although it is becoming well known that kombucha contains varying amounts of alcohol – the exact percentages are not often certain.
During the fermentation cycle, the yeasts in the kombucha eat up sugar. This then turns to alcohol. However, at that point the bacteria within kombucha jump in and use the alcohol as their food source. The alcohol which remains at the end of fermentation is the alcohol percentage of your finished kombucha.
However, once bottled, kombucha can continue to ferment at very slow rates. This means that if the right conditions are present the alcohol levels can rise further.
Regular Levels of Alcohol in Kombucha
Alcohol levels within kombucha can creep up into the range where drinks are alcoholic. However this is not necessarily the norm. The FDA categorizes any drink which has more than a 0,05% level of alcohol as a alcoholic beverage. Kombucha companies have had trouble with this as it means that their products falls under the regulations of these. Some brands have gone ahead and applied for the neccesary permits to produce alcohol in order to safeguard against penalization.
A regular batch of kombucha can reach up to 1% in alcohol levels. However, depending on the way it is brewed, it can also clock in at under 0,05%.
For a guide of reference, beers usually contain between 3.5-6% alcohol.
Utmost Alcohol Levels Possible in Kombucha
While a normal batch of kombucha might be only mildly alcoholic or merely contain a trace amount of alcohol – some batches can get way over this range of normal. This can be caused by how much sugar is used, how many yeasts are present during fermentation, if and how second ferments are done and and under what conditions the bottled kombucha is stored.
The rough maximum that kombucha can reach if given the right circumstance is about 3% alcohol content.
So Yes, You Can Get Drunk
As you can see, if you happen to consume a bottle of kombucha which has through chance reached 3% in alcohol levels, you could feel the effects of the alcohol. Particularly if you are sensitive to alcoholic beverages.
While the chances of this happening with normal brewing practices is quite rare, there are tricks also to bring this about on purpose. If you are interested in purposefully getting a more boozy booch, you can implement a specific set of brewing methods to maximize the residual alcohol levels of your batches. For more info on these techniques for making alcoholic kombucha, check out How To Increase Alcohol Content Of Kombucha Tea and How To Make Kombucha Alcohol.
For more specific guidelines on making drink look-a-likes out of kombucha have a look at these brewing guides:
What This Means For Kombucha Drinkers
While it can be fun to experiment making some alcoholic kombucha for parties and to drink as a healthy cocktail, the alcohol levels within kombucha can also prove problematic.
Drinking Kombucha Before Driving
If you drink enough of a kombucha which has developed levels of alcohol close to the 3% mark, you could register positive on a breathalyzer test! So if you are going to be driving, and are drinking kombucha, keep the serving small – just in case. This is particulary true if the kombucha smells ‘boozy’, is close to its expiry date or has been its bottle for some time.
Drinking Kombucha While Pregnant
Many pregnant women are interested in drinking kombucha for its health benefits while they bring to term, but are concerned about its potential alcohol levels. If you are pregnant and wanting to drink kombucha, then you can purchase a brand of kombucha where the alcohol levels are controlled to trace amounts (such as GTs). Or you can make your own kombucha and implement brewing steps to keep down and reduce alcohol levels. If you choose this option, then it might be worth looking into ways in which you can test the alcohol percentage of the kombucha you make.
You might also be interested in reading this post, Can You Drink Kombucha Tea While Pregnant? for more in depth info on the pros and cons of drinking kombucha while pregnant.
Serving Kombucha to Children
Because kombucha is such a powerful probiotic many parents would like their children to enjoy its benefits. However nobody wants to inadvertently give their kids alcohol to drink! If you are keen on giving your kids kombucha you can follow the same steps as for pregnancy. Either buy a regulated brand like GT’s, or make your own using alcohol reducing methods. If you make your own, also considering investing in some gadgetry so that you can measure the alcohol levels within your finished kombucha.
Drinking Kombucha as a Recovering Alcoholic
If you are in recovery from an alcohol addiction, then you might be eyeing out kombucha with extreme wariness. Drinks with trace levels of alcohol can spurr cravings and trigger addiction demons which have been dead for years. However this is not always the case either. Some people have reported that they can drink kombucha without any cravings or problems.
Serving Kombucha to a Recovering Alcoholic
Do not offer kombucha to someone who is recovering from an alcohol addiction without telling them about its potential alcohol levels!
Can you get drunk on kombucha? Yes, if you drink enough of a batch whose alcohol levels went unusually high. However, most people drinking a normal batch of kombucha will not experience any kind of tippiness or other effects associated with alcohol intake.
This is because kombucha usually only has up to 1% alcohol content. There are cases where the alcohol levels can reach up to a maximum of 3%, but this is quite rare.
If you are interested in making a buzzy kombucha which has higher alcohol levels, you can do so by tweaking conditions to mimic those where kombucha becomes unusually alcoholic. You can also add in home brewing yeasts such as wine or champagne yeasts.
If however you would like your kombucha to have the lowest levels of alcohol present, then there are also ways in which you can minimise their development.
Lastly, always keep in mind that while kombucha is usually very low in alcohol levels, even low levels can be an issue for people who might be recovering from an alcohol addition, are pregnant, or are underage.
Additionally, do not drink a super strong batch of booch before going some where in your car – as you might get a ticket!
Happy Brewing all.