Can kombucha make you drunk?
Well since went alcohol free I realized it was not as simple as saying no to alcohol full stop. Then someone asked me on the blog Can kombucha make you drunk?
I was like oh no really ?
Until I went on a total alcohol free journey I had never heard of Kombucha let alone tasted it!
In fact between you and me I didn’t even know what it was.
I knew it was some kind of probiotic drink which sounded healthy but apart from that I was a bit oblivious to the whole trend.
So because of my health I gave up alcohol only to discover that alcohol is often just part of natural fermentation in not just alcohol but bread and fruit juice as well.
Have you ever tried to give up something like wheat or nuts only to discover it’s in everything.
That when I started to panic I thought I better do some more digging around this alcohol free option.
However, fear not it’s generally considered that alcohol is in many natural products but that it is “just a trace” not like your 14 per cent abv wine for example.
Why do mention ABV above? Well it’s important as it tells you at any level what is alcohol free and what is not.
In the UK anything below 0.5 % abv is considered alcohol free but I actually take it further than that and go for 0.0% products as a rule.
But I do accept that some products may have a trace as part of their natural production process.
However, could kombucha secretly send you into a drunken stupor?
I decided to investigate before I had a small glass of it!
Safety first and all that!
Can I get drunk off of kombucha if I drank lots and lots ?
So if you are avoiding this product for this reason I have good news!
It would be physically impossible and you would probably need your stomach pumped and not from the alcohol either just the pure volume of liquid and sugar for starters!
Even with such a small trace of it most brands with even higher alcohol are considered alcohol free. Even with a 0.5% beer there is more alcohol in a good deal of food but they are just not classified in that way.
In fact, Kombucha is in some alcohol free sparkling wine but states clearly it is alcohol free so it must be right.
Or have I read the signs wrong?
Have I been really drinking whiskey all this time? Well thankful no as I would be dead by now!
Kombucha gets very good PR for its probiotics and low sugar quality and if you are going alcohol free or reducing alcohol then its a serious option.
Soft drinks with lots of sugar as an alternative are not good news!
How is kombucha made?
Given I had not really heard of Kombucha until I gave up drinking alcohol and started looking for alternatives I was surprised about the process of making it.
I could not decide if it was complicated or really easy!
It seems its steeped tea as the first step and it can be black or green and does not really matter.
Then of course, you add in the sugar.
Now the next bit cracked me up is called SCOBY which to me is cartoon character spelled wrongly. I’m wrong of course!
It’s actually quite a scientific based product so a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
You can actually buy it online or in shops!
Below is a link to making some kombucha tea and it’s a fascinating area especially in the organic market.
As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases but this does not affect what you pay.
If you are making it you need to let it ferment as that is key. People add fruits and flavorings to the mix and it’s also used in many alcohol free sparkling wines.
This one is excellent and really refreshing. It does have a kick but not because of the alcohol.
How come kombucha has any alcohol in it ?
Making kombucha will result in some alcohol as with any fermentation. It is like bread in many respects.
SCOBY with the yeast will take in the sugar and the result of that is alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The bacteria will then have a chemical reaction to the alcohol and this will result in organic acids.
Now while most of the alcohol disappears, as with a lot of these products you might be left with a trace of alcohol which is often the case with burger roles for example.
Yeast is reacting to the temperature it is being kept in. So keeping it cold could keep the chemical reaction at bay to stop any further alcohol production but it might continue in its in the heat.
Think of fruit on a warm summer day for example.
However, this is trace alcohol and not like you would get in a large bottle or spirits or wine.
What are the rules on alcohol free ?
It really does vary world over and what is maybe less than 0.5% in the UK is 1% in some countries so you really need to be aware of the labels.
But even at 1 per cent if considered very little, if you are going alcohol free then its a worry.
In the UK 0.5% and over is considered low alcohol for example.
There is probably more alcohol in a banana though. Yes really? You see fermentation is not just the territory of alcohol free drink.
Even fruit left in warm temperature can ferment thus the smell.
So getting drunk even at the higher levels of alcohol free or low alcohol would be a massive task and almost impossible.
In fact, I know people who could get drunk drinking alcohol free but it is the “placebo effect” so they think its alcohol and act accordingly.
The placebo effect is real!
Then when they realize they sober up with a click of finger because the alcohol blood level is zero if they were to drink a few bottles of 0.0% beer.
So certainly in the UK if you are ordering a kombucha drink online or in shop it might have a natural trace at its worst!
Before you got drunk, if indeed you could you would be sick like when you have eaten a whole tub of ice cream and your stomach and body says “no more thank-you”
Kombucha Brewers International Association says that any buzz we have is the rush of the nutrition and the probiotic nature not any alcohol.
I guess that makes sense as sugar can do that of course.
However, buyers be aware!
There is a trend developing in some countries to really push the alcohol content of this drink up and I am talking even more than 1 percent here.
So you could end up drinking more alcohol than a trace that could affect your health if you were alcohol free, which is why checking the label is so important even with so-called 0.0 beers or alcohol free wine.
Always know what you are drinking
Some brewers around the world are moving Kombucha away from alcohol free so it could have more alcohol than you first thought!
Kombucha is a target being experimented with to make it more of an alcoholic drink or beverage.
Before you get too shocked by this. I guess it is what has happened over the years with ginger beer, cider and even so called alcohol pops.
Brewers are always trying to find new ways to market alcohol to alcohol heavy dependent societies which let’s be fair many countries including the UK are.
Some production of Kombucha are making even higher than the 1 per alcohol range and certainly more than a trace of alcohol.
There evidence of the drink being 4 per abv and over for example.
Now of course the worry is if you are medically sensitive to alcohol, driving or pregnant this would be a totally unwanted alcohol level so that is why the labeling is so important.
Some places in Canada are selling purposely made kombucha with alcohol hitting nearly as high as 7 per cent but fear not this really is going into the territory of “kombucha alcohol beer.”
It is not part of the alcohol free market which is actually being very guarded by many breweries as its an important market for them.
With a yearly growth of over 23 per cent I am not surprised either.
However, the higher alcohol kombucha is sold in alcohol stores mainly and is hopefully flagged as such depending on the local laws.
It is certainly not a UK thing.
Of course, you can make anything more alcoholic. If you think about the fermentation process it is all about how much sugar is turned into alcohol.
If you combine yeast with more sugar and put it in the right temperature and conditions you will get a higher alcohol content.
Its really that simple.
Keep it fermenting for longer for example things like dark wine are and it increases the alcohol content.
However unless you are searching out this high alcohol kombucha you are unlikely just to pick it up accidentally but as I said buyers should be aware and that is why I am a real advocate of the ABV labels being really clear.
It is why I love some alcohol free beer brands that label so clearly with 0.0 on the front of the bottle.
If you are going alcohol free it really helps to know what you are drinking. It fact is a must!
So like alcohol free beer I don’t think you will be getting drunk off the standard kombucha drink even in alcohol free sparkling wine any time soon.
And in terms of choice that is a good thing!
Have you ever tried Kombucha?
I would love to know if you have ever tried kombucha in any form.
Maybe it was just a drink or maybe alcohol free sparkling wine.
It feels it is generally safe to drink when it comes down to alcohol under normal circumstances however a quick check of the label can go a long way.
Have you ever asked can kombucha make you drunk and what was your initial reaction? I would love to know your view and leave a comment. I always get back to you.