How many calories in kombucha?

Sees new product. Picks product up. Spins product around to see back of product.

There’s a protocol health conscious peeps abide by when it comes to purchasing a product:

a) scanning the ingredient list

b) neurotically studying the nutrition facts

Why is it this protocol goes completely out the window when it comes to alcoholic beverages? Probably because 99% (this is a rough guess) of alcohol companies don’t reveal this information on the product, or anywhere on their website for that matter. We’ve grown to accept it.

We think that’s silly. So, we promise to never keep those secrets from you–we care what you put into your body and want you to know what you’re consuming. In choosing flavor profiles, our Brew Master specifically chooses ingredients that are:

1. In season & local whenever possible

2. Health beneficial

3. 100% organic & gluten free

Contents

We only chose ingredients for our high alcohol kombucha that have integrity.

APPLE + LIME + JASMINE

Ingredients: raw kombucha, cold pressed apple juice, cold pressed lime juice, jasmine green tea, yeast

11 oz serving || Calories: 169 || Sugars: 11 g

GINGER + LIME + ROSEHIPS

Ingredients: raw kombucha, cold pressed ginger juice, cold pressed lime juice, rosehips, yeast

11 oz serving || Calories: 147 || Sugars: 5.5 g

GRAPEFRUIT + HIBISCUS + HEATHER

Ingredients: raw kombucha, cold pressed grapefruit juice, hibiscus, heather flower, dried ginger, yeast

11 oz serving || Calories: 159 || Sugars: 8.5 g

GRAPE + CORIANDER + ANISE

Ingredients: raw kombucha, concord grape juice, coriander, anise, yeast

11 oz serving || Calories: 163 || Sugars: 9.5 g

WATERMELON + MINT + CHILI

Ingredients: raw kombucha, cold pressed watermelon juice, mint, chili peppers, yeast

11 oz serving || Calories: 155 || Sugars: 7.5 g

LEMON + MAPLE + THYME

Ingredients: raw kombucha, cold pressed lemon juice, pure maple syrup, thyme, yeast

11 oz serving || Calories: 175 || Sugars: 12.4 g

ORANGE + POMEGRANATE + BEET

Ingredients: raw kombucha, cold pressed orange juice, cold pressed pomegranate juice, beet root powder, wine vinegar, rosemary, yeast

11 oz serving || Calories: 178 || Sugars: 13.2 g

To give you reference of how awesome we are…

  • Ballast Point Sculpin IPA = 240 calories
  • Red Wine = 193 calories
  • Angry Orchard Apple Hard Cider = 190 calories
  • Moscow Mule = 182 calories
  • Cosmopolitan = 260 calories
  • Margarita = 375 calories
  • GT’s Kombucha = 8 grams sugar per serving

Though most of the black tea is consumed by the SCOBY before the final product, there are small amounts of caffeine remaining. Each 11 oz serving has 21 mg caffeine (which equals about 3 sips of black tea). To put into perspective, a cup of coffee has about 200 mg per serving.

This product is perishable so must be kept cold! Those living probiotics don’t like to be warmed up. Remember to always Booch responsibly and share with your friends!

*These nutrition facts are an average of the most recent batch testing. Since we use fresh pressed juices these amounts may vary slightly from batch to batch.

Kombucha – should you be drinking it?

The answer

The short answer is “not really”. If you want to add fermented food to your diet you’d be better off making your own sauerkraut at home which is quicker and easier.

The long answer? Well, you MAY be getting some friendly bacteria to help your digestion or gut function but no-one knows for sure, and there is likely to be significant differences due to natural variations in the organisms used in the fermentation. There’s not a huge amount of research into Kombucha’s health benefits. To my way of thinking, its greatest advantage is its lower sugar content combined with its refreshment value as a tart, effervescent drink.

Remember, making Kombucha is like making your own yoghurt, kefir or sourdough at home – you need a starter or the “mother” and you have to feed it regularly to keep it alive and growing. Once you start, you should keep it going, something that’s not always possible in our busy, on-the-move, lifestyles.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a slightly sweet, slightly acidic, fermented beverage based on tea, generally black tea but occasionally green or herbal tisanes. It is made from water, tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast.

It’s a little fizzy which is refreshing and is drunk for its supposed health benefits which are mainly improved digestive balance and gut health from the bacteria you ingest. It’s been drunk for this health reason for centuries in Japan, China, Russia, Germany and the USA.

It is obtained from an infusion of tea leaves with a SCOBY (which stands for a “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast”). The fermentation by this “tea fungus” or “mother” is the process that ferments the sugar and yields acetic acid (which gives a characteristic sharp taste), carbonic acid, alcohol and carbon dioxide gas that adds the bubbles.

Kombucha – a slightly sweet, acidic, fermented beverage made of water, tea, sugar, bacteria & yeast.

Yes, you start with sugar but it largely disappears during the Kombucha making. Ideally you’re left with only one per cent sugar. In a 125ml serve, which is half a glass, that’s 1.25 grams or about 1/4 of teaspoon of sugar, which is hardly anything. In contrast, half a glass of soft drink has around 12 grams or 3 level teaspoons.

How do you make Kombucha at home?

To make one batch of about two litres, here’s the simplest method that I’ve been able to glean from various websites. Thanks to a detailed research paper for their clear simple lab method which I’ve adapted.

Ingredients – you’ll need:

  • 2 litres tap water
  • 5 black or green teabags or 2 level teaspoons (10g) tea leaves
  • ½ cup sugar or 110g
  • 1 pancake of SCOBY

Instructions

  • Boil the tap water. Pour it over the teabags or tea leaves in a large jug or container.
  • Add the sugar to the tea, and stir to dissolve. Leave about 30 minutes to brew and cool to room temperature. Remove the tea bags or sieve to remove the tea leaves.
  • Pour the cool brewed tea into a large, clean sterilised glass jar and add the SCOBY. You’ll have to get this from an aquaintance so a nice exchange.
  • Cover jar with cheesecloth, muslin or paper towel and secure with a rubber band or string. This is to keep insects, especially Drosophila fruit flies, away.
  • Leave to brew for a week or more to taste in a cool dark place at room temperature. In the next few days, the newly-formed daughter culture will start to float and form a thin gel-like membrane across the surface of the SCOBY. This is the new tea fungus which grows over the old tea fungus which began the fermentation.
  • Soon, the tea will start to smell fermented and you should see tiny gas bubbles appearing. This is what you want. After a week, smell or taste each day. The Kombucha will become less sweet the longer it is brewed.
  • When ready, remove the SCOBY and reserve with a little of the liquid. Store it in the refrigerator for a future batch. Pour the Kombucha into 4 bottles, close and refrigerate.

To serve:

Pour into glasses. Flavour with fruit like lemon slices, orange slices or berries, or slices of ginger root. Or serve plain over ice. See Kombucha with strawberry above.

Points to note about the Kombucha procedure

  • According to traditional recipes, around 50 grams of sugar to one litre of water will yield the optimal concentrations of alcohol and acid. You start with this 5 per cent sugar solution but it drops down to only 1 per cent after fermentation. For a beverage, this sugar concentration is low.
  • The incubation happens in a wide range of 18ºC and 26ºC which is the temperature of a cool room.
  • To produce a Kombucha with a pleasant flavour and taste requires an optimum fermentation time of around 5 to 7 days. If you let it go longer, it produces high levels of acids (like a mild vinegar) that may pose potential risks when consumed. And it tastes too-tart.

Benefits of drinking Kombucha

At around 1 per cent sugar, Kombucha is much lower in sugar and kilojoules/calories than other sweet drinks, such as juices (range 8 to 14) or iced teas (range 5 to 6). This means fewer kilojoules. So, a half a glass (125mL) of Kombucha has only 75 kilojoules/18 Calories while the same amount of iced lemon tea has 380 kilojoules/90 Calories. Of course, all this depends on how you brew it.

Devotees of Kombucha claim it can stimulate the immune system, prevent cancer, improve digestion, prevent heart disease and boost liver function, claims similar to those made for vinegar. It may but it all depends on how you’ve brewed it. There’s scant scientific research to support these health claims.

If you get good at making it, Kombucha may help your digestion.

An excellent summary of the research can be found at the online Journal of Food Science and Food Safety. In it, Jayabalan et al sum up my thoughts nicely when they say: “Currently Kombucha is alternately praised as ‘the ultimate health drink’ or damned as ‘unsafe medicinal tea’. There are many conceptions and misconceptions regarding the health benefits and toxicity of Kombucha beverage. Though it is claimed to be beneficial for several medical ailments, very little or no clinical evidence is available for that.”

You can buy bottled Kombucha, both pasteurized and unpasteurized, in various flavours everywhere from health food stores to supermarkets. The downside is that Kombucha’s probiotics do not survive the pasteurization process, and drinking it unpasteurized, if it was not produced in sanitary conditions, may pose a food safety threat, especially for those who are pregnant or have compromised immune systems. So be careful where you buy it. And only buy it if it’s refrigerated.

The bottom line

Drink it if you enjoy the tart, not-too-sweet. flavour of Kombucha. If you get good at making it, Kombucha may help your digestion. Or it may not. It all depends. Either way, it’s a pleasant drink with way less sugar than iced teas or juices. And a trendy alternative to alcohol.

Let me guess. You’ve either seen kombucha at your local Whole Foods Market or your friend won’t stop yapping on about it.

Maybe you’ve even tried it.

And now you’re curious to learn what the heck you’re drinking, why it smells like vinegar and if it’s normal to have some weird floaty things swirling around in it.

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But the biggest question you probably want answered is whether it’s keto-friendly and if you can ever drink kombucha on a keto diet.

Lucky for you, these questions and more will be answered in today’s guide. You’ll learn:

What is Kombucha?

Don’t be intimidated by the unusual name. Kombucha (pronounced kômˈbo͞oCHə) is simply a fermented tea.

It starts out with a sweet tea base (usually a combination of black or green tea and sugar). Then a SCOBY, or Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, is added — and that’s how all the magic happens.

This SCOBY lives in the tea and floats around like a super thick, legless jellyfish for a few weeks.

It’s the crucial ingredient that ferments and transforms the sweet tea into a probiotic-rich, naturally carbonated masterpiece.

Because of this fermentation process, kombucha shares similar gut-balancing properties as healthy fermented foods like unpasteurized kimchi and sauerkraut, miso soup and traditionally made (lacto-fermented) pickles.

And that’s only the beginning of its health claims.

The Health Benefits of Fermented Drinks

You just learned that kombucha is essentially a sweet tea packed with bacteria.

Sounds super gross, right? So why are people drinking this stuff?

It’s not a new trend. Kombucha, and similar fermented drinks, have been around for centuries. And thanks to everyone’s growing obsession with probiotics and gut health, fermented foods and drinks are growing in popularity — especially here in the states.

The bacteria and yeast combination found in these fermented foods and drinks may help balance gut bacteria, helping populations of “good” bacteria thrive and crowd out “bad” gut bacteria .

Poor diets, stress, pollution, monthly hormonal fluctuations and even drinking alcohol and caffeine can throw off the natural balance of your gut bacteria.

When you have too much “bad” bacteria here, you’ll usually suffer from uncomfortable digestive issues and other irritating symptoms such as:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Bladder infections

To combat these unwanted side effects, rebalancing your gut bacteria levels is necessary so that you have a healthy mix of good and bad bacteria.

You can do that, in part, by eating and drinking fermented foods such as kombucha since they contain probiotics along with antimicrobial, bacteria-fighting properties.

As for the specific health benefits associated with kombucha, the current research has only been done on rats — but so far it’s promising.

Here’s what scientists discovered in animal studies:

  • It may help treat or prevent prostate cancer
  • It reduced cholesterol levels
  • It helped diabetic rats decrease their blood sugar levels

There’s plenty of anecdotal (first-person accounts) of kombucha’s benefits, too. If you ask die-hard kombucha fans, they’ll swear that it’s helped them with:

  • Hangovers
  • Boosting sluggish metabolisms
  • Reducing kidney stones
  • Improving energy levels
  • Restoring homeostasis in the body
  • Reduced sugar cravings
  • ladder infections

While these benefits of kombucha tea may be true, they haven’t been proven in humans at this point. That also brings us to another dilemma.

If you’re in ketosis or trying to reach it, is kombucha even okay to drink?

Will Kombucha Knock You Out of Ketosis?

Just like with dairy, kombucha is keto friendly, with a few exceptions. Before we dive into those, there’s one key understanding to sort out here.

How It’s Made Matters

We already mentioned that kombucha is made from a sweet tea base. If you know anything about sweet tea, you know it’s loaded with sugar.

Does this mean kombucha is some magical keto loophole?

Not exactly.

The SCOBY actually feeds off the mountain of sugar that’s added to the tea. This is what it thrives on for weeks and how it has the energy to ferment in the first place. Sugar gives all forms of life energy.

Lucky for keto-ers, the SCOBY is also what burns through all the sugar that’s initially added.

What’s left is a low sugar, low carb drink that’s fairly easy on the palate if you don’t mind a hint of vinegar.

There’s no getting around this slight tart, vinegary taste. And for newbie kombucha drinkers, it can be off putting.

Because of this, many commercial brands of kombucha choose to do what’s known as a double fermentation process where different flavors and fruits are added. This updated mixture sits for a few more weeks to ferment further.

This time, the end result is not keto friendly!

These versions of kombucha are loaded with both carbs and sugar. So if you drink them, you’ll definitely be kicked out of ketosis.

If you’re careful to only consume low carb brands and flavors of kombucha, you’ll typically only see a slight shift in your ketone levels and they should return to normal within a few hours. Meaning, you can totally enjoy kombucha in moderation on a keto diet.

However, that’s only if you also consider the nutritional breakdown before doing so — and adjust your food intake accordingly.

How to Enjoy Kombucha on a Ketogenic Diet

Many store bought bottles of kombucha actually contain two servings. So if you’re not taking this into account, you could end up reaching half your carb count for the entire day in just one bottle — even if it’s unflavored.

Take this extremely popular kombucha for example:

In just half the bottle, you’ll sip on 12 grams of carbs and 2 grams of sugar — and that’s in a raw, unflavored kombucha.

Just for fun, here’s what one flavored option that contains both stevia and sugar would give you:

Notice that this brand’s flavored version has less carbs than the other one’s unflavored option yet it still packs 6 grams of extra sugar due to the sweet fruit that’s been added.

This popular mango flavor comes in at 12 grams of carbs and 10 grams of sugar for half the bottle:

As you can see, if you’re going to add kombucha to your low carb life, you need to pay attention to the labels and serving sizes before you purchase any store bought options.

So how much kombucha can you drink on a keto diet?

Since you’re counting your macros diligently, you should have no more than a half serving of a lower carb kombucha every once in a while.

That would contain about 3.5 grams of carbs.

Keto-Friendly Kombucha and Other Fermented Drinks

Reaching for a low -carb kombucha tea option, like Health-Ade, is key. But kombucha isn’t your only option for sipping down nice dose of gut-friendly probiotics.

Kevita makes a tasty Lemon Cayenne fermented probiotic drink that’s similar to kombucha without all the carbs.

It has the sweet taste of lemonade (thanks to stevia, an acceptable low carb keto diet sweetener) with a kick of spiciness and half a serving only costs you 1 gram of carbs, 1 gram of sugar and 5 calories.

This means you could safely enjoy the whole bottle.

See for yourself:

Suja also has a probiotic drink that’s similar to a pink lemonade and perfect for your post-yoga thirst or summertime lemonade swap.

It contains stevia and for the entire bottle you’ll only fork over 5 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar, and 20 calories:

The best part is, when you’re in ketosis, sugar usually tastes 10x sweeter than usual, so you probably won’t even need to drink the whole bottle in one sitting to feel satisfied.

Another great keto-friendly kombucha option is this one that’s mixed with chia seeds:

Thanks to those powerful little fiber–packed seeds, the net carb count of this kombucha drops down to 4 grams per 8-ounce serving. It also delivers 3 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein, which the other varieties don’t offer.

There’s one more way to cut the carb count of kombucha to virtually zero, but it involves a bit more work.

Homebrewing Kombucha: First-timers Beware

Buying kombucha may be more expensive than water or soda, but buying it here and there won’t necessarily break your budget. A bottle can run you anywhere from $3 to $7 depending on where you live.

But if you consume it enough, you’ll quickly blow through your budget.

That’s why many kombucha devotees turn to homebrewing.

Not only can this help you produce your own supply very quickly and cheaply, it can also help you drastically slash your kombucha’s carb count.

The longer the mixture has to sit and ferment, the less sugars will end up in the final product. So you can maintain a much better level of carb control when you brew kombucha at home.

But before you run off to buy a homebrewing kit, there are a few important things to consider.

For one, you’re dealing with bacteria here.

If the slightest bit of contamination comes into contact with your SCOBY or your brewed tea, it can make you really sick — like food poisoning sick.

Not only that, it can be hard for inexperienced brewers to decipher what’s healthy bacteria growth and what’s potentially harmful.

A good rule of thumb: if you notice anything that looks like the moldy fuzz you’d find on bread, your SCOBY has been contaminated and should be tossed ASAP.

The next challenge to homebrewing is controlling the temperature.

For the SCOBY to grow safely, it needs to be in an environment that’s around 68–86 degrees Fahrenheit.

From my homebrewing experience, I live in a normally hot climate where my house hovers around 75–76 degrees all day. We hit an unexpected cold front and the house dropped to around 67–68 degrees overnight.

While I was enjoying the cooler temps, my SCOBY was in major jeopardy of not only dying but turning into a germ-filled cesspool. I quickly had to wrap it in towels and put a heater on it just to get it to a safer temperature.

Fortunately, this whole process didn’t take long and the SCOBY was saved. But it’s definitely something to consider.

If you can’t maintain a healthy environment that’s consistently between 68–86 degrees, homebrewing kombucha may not be right for you.

Keep in mind, your kombucha mixture also needs to live in a dark place for a few weeks and it cannot be disturbed.

Do you have an out-of-the-way space like this where your SCOBY can go untouched for weeks?

And are you able to keep everything germ-free for months on end?

Your SCOBY cannot come into contact with any other forms of bacteria so you will constantly be cleaning things.

You’ll need to repeatedly wash your containers, bottles, hands and surfaces and then ensure everyone in your house follows the same rules.

There are two more issues that I ran into with homebrewing.

#1: The SCOBY Hotel

Each time you brew a batch of kombucha, your mother SCOBY produces a baby.

You can use these two SCOBYs to brew two more batches or to brew a batch and create a SCOBY hotel.

A SCOBY hotel is simply a place where all of your SCOBYs live before they’re added to new batches.

What most people don’t realize is that the SCOBYs end up multiplying really fast.

After two batches, I had a full blown SCOBY hotel and they just kept multiplying.

Now you’re talking about additional storage, more maintenance to keep the hotel thriving and safe from bacteria and more supplies. Basically, everything tripled overnight.

This means that your time investment will also go up significantly, which you need to be prepared for.

You’ll need to brew, bottle, consume and rebrew on a consistent basis.

Personally, this became too much work and it was something I could not maintain, even if it was cost effective. It required so much work and cleaning — lots of cleaning.

But this helped me learn another important lesson about homebrewing:

#2: Kombucha is Not Right For Everyone

After homebrewing for months, I found out the hard way that the kombucha was flaring up my asthma and allergy symptoms.

Turns out, for some people, the yeast in fermented foods can aggravate allergies and may trigger an asthma attack in the same way environmental allergens do.

So whether it’s keto-friendly or not, if you have these types of issues, kombucha can make things worse.

In the end, it may or may not be right for you to consume, but only you and your doctor can make that decision.

Enjoy Kombucha on Keto

Kombucha tea can definitely be a keto-friendly beverage option on a ketogenic diet — provided you take time to check out the nutrition label.

Select only brands that contain low enough carb and sugar counts to stay in line with your daily macronutrient goals. Or if you’re even more committed, try your hand at home brewing kombucha to reduce the carb and sugar count even lower.

For those readers in this boat, use this tried-and-tested recipe from The Kombucha Shop:

Ingredients

  • 10 cups of filtered water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons caffeinated black, green or oolong loose leaf tea
  • SCOBY

Instructions

  • Bring 4 cups of filtered water to a boil, take this off the heat, and then add the tea.
  • Let this infuse for anywhere between 5-7 minutes.
  • Once that’s done, add the cup of sugar and stir until dissolved.
  • From here, you’ll need to add about 6 cups of cold filtered water to your jar to cool the entire mix off.
  • When the jar’s temperature drops down to the 68-84 F range, you can then add your SCOBY, stir, and test the pH level.
  • If your pH level is 4.5 or lower, you can then cover your container with a cotton cloth and let it ferment for approximately 7-9 days before taste testing.
  • For a stronger brew, let the mix sit longer. And if the vinegary taste is not your thing, stick to the 7-9 window.

But that doesn’t mean you have to drink kombucha either.

If you don’t like the taste or if you’re like me and have asthma, kombucha and other fermented foods may not be the right choice for you. The key is to find out what works for your body and run with that.

And don’t be entranced by the health claims just yet. Until we have more conclusive research on how kombucha affects human health, the kombucha craze is best met with cautious optimism.

Is Kombucha Keto? Guide to Kombucha and Ketosis

Kombucha on keto

Two buzz words have officially collided: Keto and Kombucha. The ketogenic (or keto) diet is structured around a high fat, low carb philosophy and has become wildly popular. Those following a ketogenic diet have a strict number of carbs they can consume in one day. You can get “kicked out” of ketosis by going over. Can you drink kombucha and remain in ketosis? The answer is yes, if consumed in moderation.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is fermented sweet tea. Asian, European, Japanese, and Russian cultures are known to have brewed kombucha for centuries. Despite its age, kombucha has remained somewhat under the radar, until now. The rise in popularity of probiotics and gut health has propelled kombucha into the spotlight. To read more about kombucha, see our article What is kombucha?

What is Keto?

Keto is short for ketogenic. A ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high fat diet.

Starving your body of carbs forces it to start burning fat as fuel. Ketones are a byproduct of the fat breakdown that occurs in your liver (source). The presence of ketones is a way to measure if your body is metabolizing fat, or in a state of ketosis.

Your body will burn glucose (carbs) first if it is available, even if you’re in ketosis. This is how you get “kicked out”.

The kick-out threshold differs per individual, but the general guideline is to consume less than 20-50 net carbohydrates per day to remain in ketosis.

Is Kombucha Keto-friendly?

It depends! Not all kombucha is made equal.

Some carbs are inevitable because all kombucha starts with sweet tea. But how much? The SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) eats the majority of the sugar by the end of the fermentation. The exact amount leftover depends of various factors such as fermentation duration and temperature.

If purchasing kombucha at the store, you can simply read the labels and know exactly how many carbs and grams of sugar are in each serving. It seems that the range is between 6-12 carbs per 8oz serving of kombucha, depending on the brand and type. Even at 6 carbs, that is taking up quite a bit of your daily keto-allotment so shooting for 4oz might be the better option.

What if you wanted to brew your own kombucha?

Can you make your own keto-friendly kombucha?

The best way to ensure that your kombucha is low carb is to ferment is for a full 21-30 days. The yeast will continue to consume the sugars until the end of the fermentation, leaving you with less and less as time goes on.

The longer the fermentation goes, the stronger the kombucha gets. You don’t want to directly consume super mature kombucha because it is highly acidic and can possibly cause complications. (Read this post for more info on why kombucha tastes like vinegar) Instead–dilute the kombucha with selzter water! A lot of great sugar-free flavored soda water is available now which you can use to dilute and add flavor without going over your daily carb intake!

  1. Brew kombucha following this guide – how to brew kombucha.
  2. Allow the kombucha to ferment for a minimum of 21 days, up to 30 days.
  3. Bottle and refrigerate the mature kombucha to halt the fermentation.
  4. Serve it up: dilute kombucha with plain or flavored seltzer water using a ratio of about 4 oz kombucha to 12 oz seltzer.
  5. Add stevia or any other keto-approved sweeteners for flavor.

*Pro Tip: Using different tea blends adds tons of flavor right from the beginning. Try blending rooibos tea or hibiscus tea in your regular tea blends to add natural sweet flavor without any added sugar. Opt for half green and half hibiscus tea or half black and half rooibos!

Can you use less sugar when brewing kombucha?

The sugar provides the nutrients for the SCOBY during the fermentation. Using less sugar doesn’t necessarily translate to less sugar in the end. The SCOBY breaks sugar down into glucose and fructose. Any sugars leftover in the fermentation will be fructose which are harder for the SCOBY to break down.

Less sugar initially means that the SCOBY has less to convert into healthy nutrients for us. Instead, just opt for a longer fermentation.

Our article on what type of sugar to use for kombucha further explains the role sugar plays in the fermentation.

Can you do a secondary fermentation for low carb kombucha?

The purpose of doing a secondary fermentation is to flavor and carbonate your kombucha. You add fruit or sugar when you bottle your kombucha and let it ferment a little longer, allowing carbonation to build. The secondary fermentation is short, just 1-7 days so it’s safe to say some of the sugars will remain from the bottle conditioning.

What about artificial sweeteners? You can use artificial sweeteners to add flavor but they won’t work to build carbonation. The yeast do not recognize it as food because the chemical structure of the sugar molecules has been altered.

Opting for the flavored seltzer water approach seems to be the most practical way of going about consuming kombucha on keto. You get flavor and carbonation without adding any extra carbs.

Conclusion:

You can drink kombucha on a ketogenic diet, with a few tweaks. The best way is to brew it yourself and opt for a long fermentation. The longer the fermentation, the more sugar gets consumed and the stronger the kombucha is. After that long fermentation, dilute the mature kombucha with flavored seltzer water (to lower the acidity) and add keto-friendly sweeteners to flavor!

If you are serious about remaining in ketosis, get yourself a ketone test kit. Everyone’s body is a little different so testing is the only way to be sure!

11 Kombucha Facts You Should Know Before Giving It a Try

By Kristine Thomason

If you do any shopping at health food stores, you’ve no doubt noticed kombucha teas taking over the shelves. Your foodie friends may swear by the fizzy stuff. But if you haven’t jumped on the kombucha bandwagon yet, there are a few things you might want to know—like it’s a probiotic (yay!) and guzzling too much can cause serious bodily harm (yikes). Read on for 11 useful facts that will impress even your most kombucha-obsessed pals.

It’s not just a fad

Kombucha has actually been around for thousands of years. In fact, it first appeared in China in 220 BC.

RELATED: 6 Foods That May Be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals—And What to Eat Instead

It’s made with microbes

To make kombucha, sugar-sweetened tea is fermented with a starter culture to create an “effervescent, tangy-tart end product,” says Wendy Bazilian, RD, co-author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean ($13, amazon.com). The starter culture is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast—or SCOBY for short—that’s sometimes referred to as a “mushroom.” But that’s a misnomer since the SCOBY is completely unrelated to fungi, Bazilian explains.

It’s a probiotic

Just like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, kombucha is loaded with beneficial bacteria, says Bazilian. And a wealth of research suggests that the “good” bacteria in probiotic foods can help keep you regular, improve digestion, and boost your immunity.

RELATED: What Are Probiotics? 5 Things You Need to Know About Them

It has other nutrition perks too

“Kombucha contains phytochemicals or phytonutrients that have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties,” says Bazilian. Animal studies have shown that these antioxidants can promote healthy liver and kidney function, and reduce diabetic complications. Plus, kombucha is rich in B-vitamins and folic acid, which is key for helping the body produce and maintain new cells, says Megan Roosevelt, RD, founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com.

It’s the subject of many health claims

Kombucha is touted as detoxifying, energy boosting, and more. But it’s not the “miracle drink that some would have us believe,” says Bazilian. “No one food has all the answers,” she points out. And there isn’t enough solid research to back up kombucha as a complementary remedy, she says.

RELATED: 6 Prebiotic Foods You Should Add to Your Diet ASAP

But it can help promote a healthy diet

There’s no question the fizzy tea can be a good alternative to sugar- and chemical-laden soda. And as Bazilian points out, drinking kombucha can also help encourage overall wellness: Kombucha feels like a fun treat, which can make other healthy habits feel fun too, says Bazillian. “As long as you’re also eating a nutritious whole foods diet on the side, then it’s totally a positive thing.”

Just watch out for added ingredients

“Some brands can be high in added sugar,” warns Roosevelt. “Aim for kombucha with 5 grams of sugar or less per serving.” She also recommends checking the serving size because one bottle may contain two servings. Plus, just like you would with any packaged food, scan the label for hard-to-pronounce ingredients. If you can’t find an ingredient on grocery store shelves, there’s a good chance you don’t want to put it into your body, says Bazilian.

RELATED: 5 Good—and Bad—Things That Can Happen to Your Body When You Give Up Processed Foods

You can drink too much

Kombucha contains lactic acid, and “there is some thought that, in excess, drinking kombucha could cause lactic acidosis, a build-up of lactic acid in the blood stream that can be life-threatening,” Bazilian says. But as long as you’re not guzzling bottle after bottle, the risk is pretty slim.

Don’t rely on it for a major caffeine boost

Like many types of tea, kombucha contains some caffeine, though the amount tends to be pretty low—anywhere from 2 to 25mg—far less than coffee (95mg) and even less than most caffeinated teas, says Bazillian. That said, if you’re trying to kick a caffeine habit, it might be best to skip this brew.

RELATED: Why Does Drinking Coffee Always Make You Poop?

It contains some alcohol

But there’s little chance you’ll even get a buzz. Bottled brews in the grocery store contain less than 5% alcohol, explains Bazilian. That means you’d have to throw back six or more 12-ounce bottles to consume the same amount of alcohol in a single light beer.

However, some brands of kombucha are marketed and sold as alcoholic beverages, Bazilian points out. And if you brew your own kombucha, the alcohol content tends to be a bit higher.

RELATED: Here’s How to Make an Old Fashioned With Kombucha

Home brew can be risky

If you’re considering DIY kombucha, proceed with caution, advises Bazilian. “Be aware, it’s a little different than baking a cake,” she says. “When you’re fermenting a live organism like bacteria or yeast at home, then food safety is an issue.” In fact, some cases of heart attacks, lead poisoning, and allergic reactions may be linked to home-brewed tea. If you decide to go for it anyway, says Bazillian, at least make sure you’re following safe cleaning and brewing methods from a source you trust. (Roosevelt offers a how-to guide on her site.)

Want to play it safe and stick with the store-bought stuff? Jayson Calton, PhD, co-author of The Micronutrient Miracle, recommends the brand LIVE Kombucha Soda ($40 for 8; amazon.com).

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There’s No Way of Knowing How Much Sugar Is Really In Your Kombucha

Photo: Oksana Mizina/

Kombucha might be the ultimate oldie-but-goodie health food-it’s been around since 200 BC but really came on the mainstream food scene in the 2000s. And there are a lot of benefits to sipping on that booch.

If you’re not familiar with kombucha, it’s a fermented tea. At our private practice in NYC, Foodtrainers, we’re fermented food fanatics. “Ferm foods,” as we call them, are great for your digestion, appetite, mood, and weight. (They can also make the food you’re eating even healthier.) Bonus: I find kombucha makes an awesome wine replacement at night-it mellows you out with a negligible alcohol/calorie content. (Related: Kombucha Cocktails for a Refreshingly Healthy Happy Hour)

But a few weeks ago, after receiving my regular grocery delivery with a bunch of kombuchas, I noticed something alarming on the bottle. As I scanned the nutritionals-something I’ve done a million times before-my eyes caught something new: 10g of sugar per serving. I’m no mathematician but two servings per bottle make 20g of sugar in a bottle. That’s 5 teaspoons of sugar!

Like many of my clients and friends, I’ve been kombucha-ing for years and have downed several hundred of these bottles, thinking I’m having negligible (~2g) sugar per serving. There is no way 10g sugar would’ve gotten past me. Was it a labeling mistake?

After contacting the brand, I received a confusing message that boiled down to: “It’s the same product you’ve always had.” And upon my further email-ambushing, I was told that the higher sugar count was part of a new FDA regulation requiring brands to provide the total amount of sugar used in processing the kombucha, not just the amount left after the fermentation process.

At first glance, this seems legit. Fermentation requires some sugar, and during the process, good bacteria metabolize most of the sugar into lactic acid. The end product has far less sugar-but it’s tough to be 100 percent accurate with exactly how much less. So, they are *now* required to label with the amount in total they initially use. This sounds fine.

But as it turns out, there is much more to the story. In a 2016 sugar-testing study funded by kombucha brand Kevita of eight different competitor brands, it was reported that there were massive discrepancies in the amount of sugar in the product and reported on the label. (We’re talking up to 300 percent higher.)

I reached out to another one of my favorite low-sugar kombucha brands who confirmed that “the labeling requirements have changed, but they are not enforced at all”-meaning brands can guess or flat-out lie about the sugar content. In fact, if you look at some labels carefully they don’t even include sugar in their ingredient list, even though sugar is one of the main ingredients in kombucha.

I’ve been told that the common “fermenter’s wisdom” is that the residual sugar in kombucha is treated differently in your body from just plain old sugars because it has already been metabolized by the microorganisms. I love the idea of “fermenters wisdom,” but shouldn’t food labels be standardized? I’ve loved sipping on this as a nightcap. But personally, I’d rather have a cookie if I’m going to have all that sugar.

Before you freak out and cut all kombucha, here’s what you can do: Always read labels (and then take that info with a grain of salt-err-sugar). Be sure to cut any kombucha with *added* sugar or juice, and keep it to one serving (half a bottle) instead of the whole thing. (My rule of thumb is 4g per serving max). And in addition to kombucha, try other awesome ferm foods like miso, sauerkraut, pickles and pickled veggies, kimchi, and kefir.

  • By By Carolyn Brown, RDN

Kombucha: Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits, and Dangers of This Fermented Tea

Kombucha tea is a star of the alternative medicine and health world. In fact, raw kombucha has long been used by the Chinese and other traditional medicine societies to cure diseases and ailments. This fermented tea is promoted as a healthy elixir that can treat everything from heart disease to diabetes and AIDS.

The health claims of kombucha tea aren’t always backed by studies or hard evidence. We’ve done the research for you to find health benefits of kombucha tea that are backed by science.

This handy guide will show you everything you need to know about kombucha tea. You’ll learn what it tastes like, how it’s made, and more about its nutrition facts. Discover what makes this tea so unique and uncover the health benefits and side effects.

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea that typically uses green tea or black tea leaves, which are sweetened with sugar. The tea is made by combing bacteria and yeast strains with tea leaves and sugar. The mixture is then fermented to produce tangy kombucha. This tea is commonly known as mushroom tea, tea fungus, and Manchurian tea. The fermentation process results in a mild alcohol content and high levels of vitamins and minerals that are good for human health.

SCOBY

The fermented beverage is made using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, which is referred to as the mother or SCOBY. A SCOBY is a slimy, thick, and circular formation made up of microbial agents. The SCOBY typically consists of an acetic acid bacteria and a yeast—most commonly Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This produces a kombucha tea that contains living bacteria, which are also probiotic.

The entire kombucha fermentation process can last anywhere from seven to twelve days depending on room temperature and the bacteria strains used. During fermentation, the SCOBY uses up all of the sugar, meaning kombucha tea actually has a low amount of sugar in the final product. The SCOBY absorbs the sugar in the sweet tea and converts it into acids.

Kombucha can be brewed at home or purchased form a variety of health food stores including Whole Foods. For home brewing, it’s typically stored in large glass jars and you can find bottled kombucha from name brands such as GT’s Living Foods founded by GT Dave. You can also find kombucha tea bags from tea companies such as Yogi.

Nutrition Facts

Kombucha tea is purported to be a healthy elixir that can cure a host of diseases and ailments. While we’ll delve into these health claims in a minute, first it’s important to go over the nutrition facts.

A six ounce serving of kombucha generally contains about three grams of carbohydrates, five milligrams of sodium, and three grams of sugar. This tea is also fat free and low in calories. Most kombucha tea also contains acetic acid, lactic acid, and good bacteria. Since kombucha is made using tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant, it also contains high concentrations of the healthy antioxidant known as EGCG.

Flavor Profile

The fermentation process of kombucha tea makes it slightly effervescent. This probiotic tea offers a slightly vinegary flavor that is tart and tangy. The flavor can be strong for palettes that are accustomed to sweeter flavors. For this reason, many kombucha teas undergo a second fermentation process where they are sweetened with fruits, fruit juices, and herbs.

Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea

Kombucha is legendary when it comes to health claims and purported benefits. It’s used everywhere from China and Japan to the United States and Russia thanks to its concentration of healthy bacteria. Advocates of the beverage claim it can cure or treat everything from AIDS to gout and rheumatism.

Medical studies are few and far between and most haven’t shown the health benefits that many proponents claim. When drinking kombucha, it’s important to note that many health benefits have not been proven in humans. The bottom line is that kombucha has good bacteria that offer some health benefits, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cure-all. Here are some kombucha health benefits that are backed by science.

1. Boosts Immune Health

Kombucha is packed with vitamins and good bacteria that boost the immune system. Since kombucha is made using green or black teas, it also contains antioxidants and vitamins—including B vitamins and vitamin C—which help fend off infections like the common cold and flu.

2. Aids Digestion

One of the most powerful kombucha benefits is its ability to streamline and improve digestion. This beverage is packed with healthy probiotics that help the body break down foods. Kombucha is a natural diuretic, meaning it helps flush out waste and toxins more quickly. Drinking kombucha may also prevent bacterial and fungal infections. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food points to the antioxidant activity of kombucha as the agent for protective digestive health benefits (1).

3. May Prevent Heart Disease

Kombucha made with true tea leaves may help protect heart health by lowering bad LDL cholesterol. A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that green tea can reduce the risk of heart disease by more than 30 percent (2). While the study focused on brewed green tea, kombucha may still offer these health benefits when it is made using green tea leaves.

4. May Help Treat Diabetes

Drinking kombucha may help ease the symptoms of diabetes in certain patients. Most studies have been conducted on animals, but show promising evidence that needs to be confirmed in human trials.

A study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the effects of kombucha in diabetic rats. Researchers found that kombucha was more effective than black tea in reducing blood glucose levels. These results were due to the fermented tea’s ability to inhibit a-amylase and lipase activity. It was also shown to inhibit the absorption of bad cholesterol and triglycerides (3).

Dangers of Kombucha

Drinking kombucha is safe when consumed in mild amounts and when brewed properly. If you buy kombucha products from a health food store, you don’t need to worry too much about its quality. If you are brewing kombucha at home, you need to use the right containers and prevent the mixture from being contaminated. Here, we’ll go over a few things to watch out for.

Lead Poisoning

Kombucha should NEVER be brewed in ceramic containers or those that use lead crystal or paint coatings. The acidic nature of kombucha can leach these chemicals into the tea mixture and cause lead poisonings. Don’t use lead-glazed ceramic pots or pans at any point during the preparation process. Stick to clear, glass jars to ensure safety.

Acid Overdose

Drinking kombucha in excess can lead to high concentrations of acid in the human body known as acidosis. This can result in serious health problems including irregular heartbeat and death. Don’t drink kombucha every day and make sure to keep all homebrews between a pH of 2.5 and 3.5.

People With Alcoholism

While kombucha is a naturally made tea, it does contain a small amount of alcohol—typically 0.5 percent. People who suffer from alcoholism should not drink kombucha.

Bad Bacteria

For kombucha brewing at home, it’s important to take steps to prevent contamination of the tea. Always use clean utensils and wash your hands liberally before and during the brewing process. Take particular care if you are going to store a kombucha SCOBY for future use. Always store the SCOBY at cooler temperatures—generally in the refrigerator—to prevent bacterial growth. Finished kombucha should always be stored in the refrigerator to prevent further fermentation and contamination of bad bacteria.

Kombucha

Kombucha tea is made by fermenting tea, sugar, and a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The by-products of the fermentation process include organic acids, carbonation, and increased counts of good bacteria and microorganisms. While its purported health benefits are extensive, research has only confirmed a few of these potential benefits.

Whether you simply enjoy the flavor or are looking for a new healthy tea, kombucha is worth a taste. Make sure to consume in moderation and only drink high quality brews from brands you trust. If you choose to brew at home, follow the directions carefully to avoid contamination and negative side effects.

Sources:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24192111

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18641205

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591682

Is Kombucha Healthy? Here’s What Experts Say

Kombucha has a golden reputation in the beverage world. It’s everywhere: from supermarket shelves to workplace refrigerators and even on tap in cafés.

As this fizzy fermented tea rose in popularity, so did claims of its health benefits, from improved digestion, metabolism, immunity, liver function, heart health and more.

But are these claims backed by science — and is kombucha good for you? Here’s what nutrition experts have to say.

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink made from green or black tea (or both), sugar, yeast and bacteria, and is believed to have originated in China about 2,000 years ago. It’s made by adding a colony of live bacteria and yeast, known as a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), to sweetened tea and leaving it to ferment for a few weeks until it turns into a slightly sweet, slightly tart beverage that’s separated from the SCOBY and bottled.

Is kombucha good for you?

Kombucha contains B vitamins, antioxidants and probiotics, but the drink’s nutritional content will vary depending on the brand and how it’s prepared, so you’ll want to read the nutrition label. Many store-bought varieties contain about 30 calories and 2-8 grams of sugar for every eight-ounce serving, according to the USDA’s food products database. While juices and sodas often contain far more sugar than kombucha, every gram of sugar counts.

Despite all the health claims about kombucha, nutrition experts say there’s not enough scientific evidence yet to support most of them. “We lack a really well-controlled study to say, ‘This is from kombucha,’” says Dr. Zhaoping Li, professor of medicine and director of UCLA’s Center for Human Nutrition. Many of the health claims related to kombucha come as a result of people extrapolating study findings related to the human microbiome or the nutritional benefits of tea, she says. “People kind take the concept and run with it.”

Is kombucha good for digestion?

Foods that go through a natural fermentation process gain probiotic properties, and eating these foods may bring benefits like improved digestion and a more balanced gut microbiome. Many nutritionists believe kombucha may be beneficial to gut health due to these probiotics, though they say more research is needed.

“Some sources claim that kombucha can positively impact gut health decreasing inflammation and providing antioxidants because of the probiotics, however more research needs to be completed to confirm this claim,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietitian in New York City.

Maria Zamarripa, a Denver-based registered dietitian, says kombucha and its beneficial probiotics can support gut health, but she stresses that the drink is not a substitute for a healthy diet. “Consuming a diet rich in fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds is the most important factor in order to promote a healthy gut environment for these probiotics to flourish,” she says.

Does kombucha have caffeine?

Kombucha usually contains a bit of caffeine (since it’s made with tea), but the amount is small when compared to coffee, tea, soda and other popular caffeinated beverages. Typically, about one-third of the tea’s caffeine remains after it’s been fermented, which is about 10 to 25 milligrams per serving for black tea, says Colleen Chiariello, chief clinical dietitian in the department of food and nutrition at Syosset Hospital in New York. This is generally not enough caffeine to have an impact on most people, but the response can vary from person to person.

How much alcohol is in kombucha?

All kombucha contains a small amount of alcohol that is created during the fermentation process, but usually it’s not enough for a person to feel its effects. The commercially available varieties sold in the U.S. must contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume to be sold as non-alcoholic beverages, as mandated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. (A beer typically contains around 5% alcohol, and a 5-ounce glass of wine has around 12% alcohol.)

Is kombucha bad for your teeth?

Kombucha’s acidity is potentially problematic, but further studies are needed to learn more about how the drink impacts oral health. “We can speculate that kombucha’s low pH, which is similar to that of soda, can have a comparable effect,” says Clarisa Amarillas Gastelum, assistant professor in the Department of General Dentistry at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine.

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Low pH beverages may compromise the tooth enamel and increase the likelihood of tooth discoloration when drinking highly pigmented beverages, she says. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to ditch kombucha altogether. To protect your teeth, Gastelum recommends drinking your kombucha in one sitting rather than sipping throughout the day, using a straw and rinsing your mouth with water after finishing.

Is it safe to drink kombucha regularly?

Nutrition experts say it’s fine for most people to sip on kombucha every day, but to check with your doctor if you’re unsure about drinking it. Some recommend that pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with compromised immune systems should stay away from kombucha because the drink’s live bacteria could be harmful.

“When you are pregnant or you are in an immunocompromised condition, those live bacteria can get into your blood, causing disease,” Li says. ”It’s almost the same as when we tell a pregnant woman and immunocompromised patient don’t eat raw fish. That’s the same concern.”

Be mindful of how much you drink, too. “Some people may not tolerate large amounts of kombucha right away,” Zamarripa says. “Start by drinking 4 ounces or less per day, and increase the volume based on your tolerance.”

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Hey gang.. lot’s of people have been asking me this question and as much as I love to respond to each of you personally, I figured “Hey, I should make a new kombucha video for everyone!”. (yes, I actually say “hey” when I am talking to myself).

How many calories are in Kombucha?

First off, if you are asking this, my guess would be that you are either focused on weight loss or you just love learning about all aspects of kombucha! And of course, if you are looking for a true zero sugar solution for your kombucha, I highly recommend grabbing a bottle of our sugar free kombucha extract. Well I will tell you this, the good news is that it’s a heck of a lot less than what you were probably going to drink had you not selected the choice of drinking Kombucha, what do I mean? Well a lot of people chose to drink Kombucha in replacement of soda, and soda I believe ranges from, I don’t know maybe 120 calories per 12 ounce and a heck of a lot of sugar, maybe 35 – 40 grams of sugar depending on the type of soda.

Kombucha ranges in calories based on several factors?

I can not give you a specific number because when you home brew there are other variables, for instance, the longer you ferment, the less calories your Kombucha will have, also the less sugar and it happens, what happens after you ferment when you go to bottle? What I mean by this is are you adding fruit juices and stuff to your Kombucha when you bottle, or when you enjoy it? Because if you are, these will also contribute to the amount of calories in a kombucha tea. And yes, those will actually increase calories as well as sugar. I will tell you that a good range would be per serving, we’re looking at 8 ounces per serving, though when you drink your Kombucha, if it’s the first time you’ve ever enjoyed Kombucha, or if you’re drinking Kombucha for specific reasons and also if you’re slowly incorporating Kombucha into your body, you might want only to drink 4 ounces per serving.

Calories in store bought kombucha tea

If you’re having a bottle of Kombucha, at the store they sometimes sell it in 16 ounces, I would recommend drinking that 4 ounces, 4 times a day, so you’re consuming one bottle a day, broken up. Myself, I sometimes drink a gallon of Kombucha a day, so there’s no right or wrong, it’s how you react, listening to your own body and seeing what works for you.

Blackberry Kombucha.. I know you love this..

To answer your question though, kombucha tea typically has about per 8 ounce serving about 5 grams of sugar and about 30-40 calories primarily coming from the sugar that has not been converted. We start off with a lot of sugar when we begin our fermentation and at the end of fermentation stage, that sugar gets reduced, organic acids, probiotics, stuff like vitamins and minerals go up and everyone’s happy.

This is taking to account straight Kombucha when we’re looking at the recipe of water, sugar and tea and fermentation, see if you add fruit juice and other things when you go to bottle it will change the amount of calories in Kombucha, but either way know that it’s a heck of a lot less than the alternative of sugar, and not just from a calorie perspective, but from a nutrient perspective, a heck of a lot healthier for you. Hope this helped answer your question about calories and kombucha. For more info on the amazing health benefits check out our huge top 10 list of kombucha benefits videos on our youtube channel here.

calories in kombucha, kombucha, kombucha caloric content

As someone who is health conscious and slightly overweight, I always try consider the impact something I eat or drink has on my waistline. I was wondering if it’s possible to get a 0 calorie kombucha and what impact drinking kombucha has on my waistline.

Can I have 0 calorie kombucha? The short answer is no. All kombucha teas contain calories unless you leave the kombucha tea to ferment into vinegar. Although there are calories present in kombucha tea, generally it is lower in calories per serving compared to alternative beverages such a beer or juice. Store bought commercial kombucha teas will have nutritional and calorie information on the packaging. For homebrew kombucha tea it is possible to measure the amount of sugar present and therefore estimate the amount of calories per serving.

A standard recipe for kombucha tea is 1 litre of water, 50 g sugar, 5 g tea leaves and 24 g of culture. This recipe is therefore starting out with around 200 calories of sugar in the batch. The kombucha tea will ferment over time and the bacteria and yeasts will feed off the sugar and convert it into different chemical compounds like acids and alcohols. The longer the fermentation time the less sugar will remain in the tea and the more acids and alcohols are produced. This will result in fewer calories in the finished product.

It is preferable to leave some sugar behind to make kombucha tea drinkable and tasty. Without any sugar at all the kombucha tea would taste like pure vinegar and not be drinkable. Some kombucha teas have added fruit put in, this too can added calories.

How many calories are there in my store bought kombucha tea?

Store bought kombucha tea will have the amount of calories displayed clearly on the packaging. Store bought kombucha tea will not have 0 calories for the reason explained above. Sugar is required in the kombucha tea for the taste, who would buy a revolting tasting product…not me!. The amount of calories in store bought kombucha vary between 10 and 50 per 250 ml (8 oz) serving depending on the manufacturer. The variation will come from the recipe followed, the amount of sugar added to the batch, the type of sugar used, the length of the fermentation process, the amount of alcohol present and any other additional ingredients added like fruit or berries. The nutritional information label on the packaging will display how much sugar and carbohydrates there is in your tea.

The calories in your kombucha will primarily come from the sugar that is present. Also, any alcohol that is produced by fermentation in your kombucha will also provide calories. For store bought kombucha, this would be classed as carbohydrates on the nutritional information label. For either sugar or carbohydrate, multiply the number of grammes by 3.87 to give you the amount of calories. However the calorie information should be present on the packaging.

How many calories are there in my batch of homemade Kombucha tea?

As before, the calories present in kombucha tea will come from the amount of sugar and alcohol (alcohol can be considered as carbohydrates). For home brew, the sugar content can be measured using one of two methods. Once the amount of sugar is known, the calories can be calculated. One method is to use a urine sugar testing strip which is available from your pharmacist. This is a test used for diabetes patients. This is a simple dip test with a colour change. Dip the test strip into your kombucha and the colour of the strip will change and allow you to determine the amount of sugar in your kombucha tea.

An alternative method is to use a piece of kit called a hydrometer which is also widely available. A hydrometer can also be used to calculate the amount of alcohol present in your kombucha. Once these two values are known you can easily calculate the amount of calories.

To keep things simple, as a rule of thumb, I use 25 cal per serving if i’m keeping track of my calories. This is very low number of calories and can almost be considered negligible when comparing kombucha tea to other beverages like soda or beer. If you have added a lot of high sugar fruit you can up the estimate to 40 or 50 calories per serving. Doing this keeps things simple and you don’t have to worry about measuring anything. Kombucha tea can be considered as a healthier lower calorie option as a choice of beverage.

Can I lose weight drinking kombucha

Drinking kombucha tea can be a good addition to your diet to support you with weight your loss journey. It is a healthy and nutritious drink packed full of vitamins, minerals and other health supporting nutrients. It is low in sugar (and calories) and will not produce a large blood sugar spike. If you are trying to control your weight and/or blood sugar levels, kombucha tea might be a good alternative for you instead of your usual high calorie drinks such as soda or beers.

As kombucha tea is low in calories you are unlikely to gain any significant weight by drinking it. If you decide to replace your usual high calorie beverage with kombucha tea, this can result in weight loss as your total calorie intake will fall. Just make sure your replacing your usual drink with kombucha and not drinking it as well otherwise you will intake more calories. General health guidelines recommend lowering your sugar intake to reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes, kombucha can be used to support this lifestyle goal.

There is a growing body of evidence and support which indicate that improving your gut micro flora (healthy bacteria) can have a positive impact on your health as well as your waistline. Drinking kombucha tea can add a number of beneficial bacteria to your guts as a probiotic beverage. Probiotics can support healthy digestion, nutrient absorption and aid your body to function at peak performance. All this can help improve your bodies efficiency at burning fat and slimming down. It is generally advised to include fermented products in your diet as a healthy addition to support your gut health.

What else is in my kombucha tea?

Drinking kombucha tea can support a healthy lifestyle, as there are many different types of health promoting nutrients available in you when you drink it. In your tea you will find a number of different vitamins like C and D, amino acids like theanine and proteins like enzymes, as well as polyphenols (tannins) like flavonoids, flavanols, methylxanthines such as caffeine and theobromine and trace minerals like calcium and phosphorus. There are also as many as 700 different pigment, flavour, odour and aroma compounds which give the tea its natural colour and flavour profile. As we can see from this short list of examples, there can be tens of thousands of different chemical compounds in kombucha tea which make it a highly complex molecular mixture. Many of these compounds have been shown to beneficial for your health.

The microbes present in kombucha tea add a number of additional chemical compounds to the mix including a number of different organic acids like acetic and lactic. These are produced during the fermentation process. The microbes also produce different types of proteins and metabolic by-products, all of which are thought to be beneficial, however more research is required in this area.

So..?

Overall drinking kombucha tea is a low calorie nutritional beverage. Although not 0 calories a serving is very low in calories. Swapping your usual choice for kombucha can help you lose weight and control blood sugar.

Sugar is a wondrous, misunderstood building block of life. As nature’s perfect fuel source, it delivers efficient energy that the body can instantly utilize.

The classic Big Brother tries to kill Little Brother with “Pixy Stick Choke Maneuver.” Well played.

And yet, is there a necessary-for-life substance in our society with which we have a more tortured relationship than sugar? How did we end up in such a BATTLE with something we desperately need to survive?

Sugar & Kombucha

While you may have heard that sugar is “as addictive as cocaine”, scientists have debunked that myth. In fact, humans have evolved to crave sweet foods, and a dense source of nutrition could be a great advantage in times of famine. It’s no wonder that children may get a sweet tooth just when they need the caloric boost most, for a growth spurt.

So it seems sugar has a role in our diet and body, in the right amounts and types. (The chemicals, dyes, and other unnatural ingredients often packaged alongside sugar are probably worse.) When it comes to Kombucha, the small amounts of residual sugar left behind helps make the healthy acids palatable. And that sugar is mostly broken down already, easier for the body to process.

That is why misgivings about Kombucha & Sugar are mostly misguided. Without the sugar, there is no fermentation, and without fermentation, there’s no good stuff to feed your body.

KMAMMA SEZ…
A decade or two (or five!) of toxic chemical consumption will eventually take its toll. As a young 20 something, I enjoyed taking my alcohol with lots of sugar. Dessert was my favorite meal. Snacks took their toll. But then something funny happened when Kombucha came into my life. As my Kombucha consumption became more regular, I noticed that my sugar cravings were decreasing. At the same time, the “sour” taste of the Booch dissipated and became more natural to my palate. These days, my sugar cravings are entirely mental. Once I have dessert in front of me, I rarely eat more than a few bites. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is *strong*. In fact, I make the same “sour face” that newbies make when tasting overly sweet things – so disgusting how can anyone eat something this sweet! This is one of the greatest Kombucha benefits I have experienced.Sugar stick dipped in sugar? “Absolutely!” was my answer before Kombucha.

So let’s ask Wiki before we start. Hey Wiki, what’s sugar?

Sugar is a term for a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose characterized by a sweet flavor. In food, sugar almost exclusively refers to sucrose, which primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet. Other sugars are used in industrial food preparation, but are usually known by more specific names—glucose, fructose or fruit sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.

BONUS FACT:

Sugar cane originated in India and the English word for sugar comes via Arabic سكر sukkar from Sanskrit शर्करा sharkara. Sugar has been cultivated by humans for 8,000 years and was considered medicinal in the 1st century AD by the Greeks and Romans.

Okay that sounds about right. Here is a simple Sugar FAQ to settle your nerves once and for all about Kombucha & Sugar:

1. Do I have to use sugar? I never consume sugar so it puts me off Kombucha.

Yes. But the good news is that the sugar in Kombucha is for the culture to consume, not for you. When done fermenting, there will be about 2-6 grams per 8 ounce glass of unflavored Kombucha. By contrast, an 8 ounce glass of orange juice has about 24g of sugar. Natural carrot juices have 13g per 8 ounces. If fermented longer, say for 3 weeks or longer, sugar levels in Kombucha may be even lower – Recommended for diabetics and others with low sugar tolerance.

2. Why does Kombucha need so much sugar?

Without sugar, Kombucha cannot ferment. Sucrose is most easy to digest by the yeasts; they consume the sugar and put out CO2 (carbon dioxide, i.e. the bubbles in your booch) & ethanol (alcohol). Which is nice.

Then, as part of the symbiosis, the bacteria consume the ethanol and express the healthy amino acids, trace vitamins and minerals.

3. Do I have to add all of the sugar?

Yes, at least most of it. The standard Kombucha recipe is 1 cup of sugar per gallon. Too little and you are inhibiting the brew’s normal healthy development; no SCOBY, no acetic acid. Too much and the yeasts will either a) “flush” and overrun the bacteria, or b) fall completely asleep and do nothing. It may be possible to use as little as ¾ cup or as much as 1.5 cups per gallon and have successful brews.

4. What type of sugar should I use to brew Kombucha?

This debate can be heated, but it’s really simple. Most sugars are fine for Kombucha (with a few exceptions, see below), but there are preferred choices:

The color of sugar is determined by how much molasses is left after processing.

  • Plain White Sugar– the Kombucha culture consumes this easiest. Use only “cane sugar” to avoid GMO beet sugar. Concerns about trace toxins in white sugar processing should be considered.
  • Evaporated Cane Juice – My personal choice. Cleaner process but slightly more difficult for the Kombucha to consume.
  • Brown Sugar – Harder for the Kombucha to break down, it will also change the flavor significantly. Experimental batches only.
  • Maple Syrup – A “high-octane” option, use just 1/2 to 2/3 cup per gallon. Also make sure it is real 100% maple syrup, no pancake brands with corn syrup added.
  • Honey – A wonderful choice but DO NOT USE RAW. The bacteria will disturb the Kombucha SCOBY balance and could brew up a dangerous concoction. (Note: For RAW HONEY Brews, try JUN!)

Experimental Brews Only – These sugars can cause issues, try them with an extra culture from your SCOBY Hotel to see if they work for you: Molasses, Coconut Water, Coconut Sugar, Liquid Cane Juice, Invert Sugar, Agave (must be blended with regular sugar)

For more details including ratios for how much to use per gallon, check out Types of Sugar to Use for Brewing Kombucha.

Evaporated Cane Juice and brown sugar have higher levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. These healthful elements are then present in the Kombucha.

5. What types of sugar must be avoided when brewing Kombucha?

  • Raw Honey – The naturally occurring bacteria will battle the SCOBY for dominance. It sounds bad because it is.
  • Stevia – Stevia is a plant sugar and will not ferment.
  • Xylitol (and it’s precursor Xylose) – What makes Xylitol great for chewing gum and teeth is that it’s “non-fermentable,” which makes it useless for the booch.
  • Lactose – Kombucha is not lacto-fermentable.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup – Must I explain? Your body can’t even break this stuff down.
  • Any Artificial Sweetener – I have heard some crazy ideas: Erithritol, Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin?! Someone asked if they can use Mountain Dew as starter. No. No you cannot.

(*Note: you can use anything to flavor Kombucha, including these sugars, after the batch is brewed and the SCOBY(s) and starter liquid have been removed. Just don’t add them to the first ferment.)

High Fructose Corn Syrup caused a higher incidence of obesity and metabolic diseases in rats than sugar (sucrose) in a study done by Princeton.

6. Is it okay to combine multiple types of sugar into one Kombucha brew?

Absolutely! Just as with tea blends, sugar blends can add flavor and depth to your brew. Have fun and experiment!

7. Organic? Fair Trade? Do these things matter?

Not to the Kombucha. Only to me. I make these (slightly more expensive) choices for my physical and mental health. However, no one should ever put off brewing Kombucha for fear of expense. Lipton tea bags and plain white sugar do the job just fine.

8. What if I forget to add the sugar? Can I add it after without harming the SCOBY?

Yes. If it has only been a few hours to a few days, remove the SCOBY, add the sugar to the brew, stir and then return the SCOBY to your vessel. The sugar will be consumed by the yeast eventually, but the process may take a few extra days.

If it’s been longer than a few days, the results may be more hit and miss. The longer the batch has been without sugar, the more likely it is best to simply toss it and start over with a new culture and liquid from your SCOBY Hotel. That said, if you only have one SCOBY, keep it and give it a try!

9. The science is confusing. What are fructose, sucrose & glucose?

  • Sucrose (C12H22O11) = Regular Table Sugar = Fructose + Glucose
  • Fructose (C6H12O6) = Natural Fruit Sugar
  • Glucose (C6H12O6) = The most commonly used energy source in the biological world. Also known as dextrose.

Kombucha fermentation breaks down sucrose into fructose and glucose which feed the yeast which feeds the bacteria which feeds you. Awesome!

10. Is there a way to test for how much sugar remains in my brew?

Yes! You can use a refractometer to measure the amount of sucrose dissolved in the solution. Refractometers measure the amount of sugar in degrees Brix. One degree Brix is equivalent to 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution. This tool is often used in several industries where knowing the strength of the sweetness of the product is vital such as in the wine, fruit juice and honey industries, as well as by commercial Kombucha producers. It also measures nutrient density in vegetables and fruits – the higher the Brix, the more nutrients present.

There are two types of refractometers – analog & digital. The basic concept is that the amount of sugar in a solution causes light to bend at different angles. In the analog version, we add the Kombucha to the device and hold it up to a light source. Determine the reading by where the meniscus (top edge of the liquid) touches the scale. We prefer to use the Digital Refractometer because it eliminates potential for human error.

Sugars Can be Hard to Measure

Keep in mind when testing Brix that the number will not always go down immediately. As the sugar aka sucrose is split into its monosaccharide components – fructose & glucose – the numbers will actually be higher, later in the process when more of the sugars are converted, the number will drop. A refractometer is not sensitive enough to measure individual types of sugars expressed in the Kombucha. The presence of yeast, acids, and other elements can also potentially distort readings.

For homebrewers, we generally do not recommend worrying about measuring the sugar as our tastebuds do an expert job of indicating the right balance of sweet and sour. The longer you ferment, the lower the sugar, but a little balances the flavor, so don’t let it go too long. Trust YOUR gut!

If it gets really sour, start a SCOBY Hotel with it or use it as Kombucha Vinegar!

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Have any other questions about sugar?

Experimented with types and combinations and want to share your knowledge?

Leave a comment below!

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