Kombucha, the popular fermented beverage, has a little cheeky secret...it includes alcohol! But does kombucha contain enough alcohol to make you drunk?
Perhaps you have seen the message on the label of the bottle that says, "contains trace amounts of alcohol." Or perhaps you drank that bottle of homebrew quickly and it made you feel a particular way. And you're probably asking, "Can kombucha get me drunk?"
There is alcohol in kombucha, however it is generally in such tiny quantities that it does not cause drunkenness. Usually…
Why is there alcohol in kombucha?
Kombucha is created by fermenting tea with bacteria and yeast (delicious!). These bacteria and yeast collaborate to turn sweet tea into kombucha. The yeast eats the sugars in your tea, changing them to ethanol. The bacteria consume the ethanol, changing it to acidity and giving kombucha its unique sour flavour.
However, because bacteria do not consume all of the ethanol, some remains in the kombucha, making the kombucha slightly alcoholic.
How Much Alcohol Are we talking?
Most store-bought kombuchas have an Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of about 0.5 percent. Any beverage having more alcohol than this must be labelled as an alcoholic beverage. This is a requirement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (As a point of comparison, the typical beer has around 5% ABV.)
Do you you have to be 18 to buy kombucha? No. You don't have to be 18 to buy kombucha as long as the alcohol content is less than 0.5 percent ABV.
Because the fermentation duration and environment are generally less controlled when homemade kombucha is made, it can contain significantly more alcohol than store-bought variants. If the yeast in the homemade kombucha are more active (like when they are warmed or have a longer fermentation time), the finished kombucha will contain higher alcohol, ranging from 0.5 percent to 3 percent ABV.
Can Kombucha Make you Feel Tipsy or Drunk?
A typical bottle of kombucha is unlikely to make you feel intoxicated. To have the same effects as one beer, you'd have to drink ten times as much kombucha.
The Increasing popularity of Hard Komucha!
Clearly, the combination of kombucha and craft beers/ciders has resulted in something wonderful and glorious...hard kombucha. As in, kombucha with greater levels of alcohol on purpose. Kombucha companies have started releasing new alcoholic beverages with ABVs ranging from 3% to 8%. And I'm here to help.
While a typical bottle of buch is unlikely to get you tipsy, strong kombucha (or kombucha cocktails) definitely may (if that's your thing). Want to know how to create hard kombucha at home? Checkout our blog post coming next week! Good luck with your brewing!