Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard of kombucha—the fermented tea has been skyrocketing in popularity in the U.S. recently. You may have even noticed that little “contains alcohol” disclaimer on the side of your bottle. But can you actually get drunk off kombucha? Well...
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha, which likely originated in China around 220 B.C., has long been lauded for its healing properties. Made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast, the fizzy beverage is rich in probiotics. Studies have shown that probiotics (good bacteria) are great for improving gut health and immune function. Some evidence suggests that kombucha can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as help with weight loss.
While many people make their own kombucha at home, it’s becoming more and more readily available in stores. Once only sold in health food stores, you can now buy brands like GT’s, Kevita, and Health-Ade at your local Walmart.
How Is Kombucha Made?
Kombucha is made by introducing a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) into brewed tea and sugar. The mixture is then left to ferment for a week to a month.
The resulting brew is a fizzy liquid that tastes both sweet and vinegary—the longer it ferments, the more it tastes like vinegar.
Does Kombucha Have Alcohol?
Yes, kombucha does have a slight amount of alcohol in it. Fermentation—the process in which microorganisms convert carbohydrates into organic acids and alcohol—is what gives the drink its healthy benefits. It also gives it a (usually very low) ABV.
Most commercial kombucha has to be labeled non-alcoholic by law. To earn that title, it has to have an ABV of less than 0.5 percent. While you can find bottled kombucha with a higher alcohol content in some grocery stores, it's not as common.
Kombucha brewed at home, however, can contain significantly higher amounts of alcohol—sometimes up to 3 percent, according to Brew Dr. For reference, a typical light beer has about 4.2 percent.
Can You Get Drunk From Kombucha?
Yes, if you’re very dedicated and have a low enough alcohol tolerance, you could theoretically become inebriated by drinking a whole heck of a lot of kombucha. You’d have to drink about eight bottles of commercial kombucha, though, to get effects similar to one beer. And while drinking too much kombucha likely wouldn’t seriously harm your body, you’d almost definitely experience some rather uncomfortable digestive side effects like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
So, yeah, you can get drunk off kombucha—but it ain’t gonna be pretty.