Is "Hard Kombucha" ... healthy?
Regular kombucha of course, does have trace alcohol produced during the fermentation process. In fact, the alcohol content in most kombucha drinks is less than 0.5 percent and therefore not enough for you to feel its effects and you do not have to be of legal age to purchase it. That’s why most kombucha is categorized as a non-alcoholic beverage.
Some people are posting videos of themselves with Breathalyzers trying to determine how fast they will "get drunk" on hard kombucha. Hmmm.
But the bit of alcohol in some kombucha brands that was not well-measured or regulated led to problems for some companies which unintentionally had as high as 2.5 percent alcohol by volume. That led to stricter testing standards of regular kombucha. But some brands got an idea from that controversy: intentionally over-ferment their kombucha to make it alcoholic ... on purpose.
Boom: a new product was born.
- Blood Orange Mint
- Hopical Citrus
- Cran Apple Cinnamon
Holly Lyman, founder of Wild Tonic which brews 5.6 – 7.6 percent kombucha, says, “Probiotics don’t like alcohol, period. We don’t pretend to have any probiotics in our high-alcohol [kombucha] because alcohol killed them.”
"And we’ve done a lot of testing on products out on the market, and there’s not a lot of viable probiotics in even lower-alcohol versions, even though companies claim that there are," Lyman told The Washington Post.
A spokeswoman for Tura Hard Kombucha, which is produced by Boston Beer, the owners of Samuel Adams beer, told the Washington Post their drink contains shelf-stable probiotics, meaning it does not have to be refrigerated, unlike other drinks.
“We experimented with a number of probiotics and selected one that remains viable in varying conditions such as wide-ranging temperatures,” the spokeswoman said. “When the probiotics are added to Tura, they’re in a dormant state and then activate when they are consumed.”
It’s hard to say whether it's "healthy," but hard kombucha is fermented from tea.
But according to their quotes in this Washington Post article about hard kombucha, some say it does contain great health benefits.
“It’s definitely a healthy beverage,” said Tarek Kanaan, who co-founded Unity Vibration, an early producer of high-alcohol kombucha, with his wife, Rachel. “When I drink a gluten-containing beer, I feel a lot heavier and a bit more affected,” Rachel Kanaan said.
Therefore, it's likely to harbor at least some similar benefits to those of regular kombucha, which contains plenty of bioactive compounds including polyphenols. But, hard kombucha should not be viewed as a 'health beverage" and you won't get the helpful probiotics you find in whole food sources of probiotics or in a probiotic supplement.
Ok, so what's the bottom line on Hard Kombucha?
While there is scant evidence to back up the health claims of hard kombucha purveyors, it is still bursting in popularity because of buyers' growing awareness of healthier products and continued interest in kombucha overall. It's likely also fueled by the desire to consume more probiotics in more convenient ways.
Again, the best way to ingest probiotics is through whole food sources like sauerkraut or kimchi. Another great way is through a trusted probiotic supplement like this new HMO Probiotic + Prebiotic available for pre-order now.
So by all means, take part in the hard kombucha trend if you're of legal drinking age, but don't expect to get any helpful probiotics from your bottle!