Kombucha​​ Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Kombucha

Kombucha nutritional facts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Kombucha, described as "fermented tea" or even mushroom tea even though it doesn't have any mushrooms, has surged in popularity in recent years. Many believe kombucha offers health benefits, including probiotics and antibacterial properties. Here, we investigate the facts and research behind the beverage.

Kombucha Nutrition Facts

The USDA logs nutritional stats for most foods, including kombucha, but the numbers can vary depending on a brand's recipe. Excluding varieties that contain fruit or milk that will add more calories, in general, 8 ounces of kombucha contains approximately 30 calories, 0–1 grams (g) of fat, 2–10 mg of sodium, 4-6 g of carbohydrates (in the form of sugar), and 0 g of cholesterol.

Like many other tea varieties, kombucha may lack significant nutritional value but it does have some B-complex vitamins such as thiamin and niacin.

And since kombucha is made with tea, it usually has some caffeine, but the amount can vary. Kombucha can also have trace amounts of alcohol as a result of the fermentation process—that's one reason to keep it refrigerated—and contains a variety of phytochemical compounds that come from the tea used to make the drink.

Health Benefits

Most of the research on kombucha has been done in laboratory settings or on animals, so it's not known if the fermentation products or bacteria have anything to offer humans. Moreover, any health benefits could be due to whatever type of tea is used to make the kombucha. For example, kombucha made with green tea may offer any of the health benefits of green tea.

That said, raw kombucha has the potential to be a good source of probiotics, which can be beneficial for your digestive health, but some commercial varieties are pasteurized, which essentially kills off the beneficial bacteria as well as the bad. Read the label to see if you're purchasing raw or pasteurized kombucha.

Kombucha may contain compounds such as catechins (from the tea) called isorhamnetin (that's not normally found in tea), which may have antibacterial and antiviral properties. It's possible that drinking kombucha could combat some of the organisms that cause gastroenteritis. More studies are necessary to know for sure.

Common Questions

From kombucha's ancient history to whether or not there's such a thing as drinking too much kombucha, here are answers to some of the most FAQs about the drink.

Where Did Kombucha Come From?

Kombucha tea originated in China over 2,000 years ago. 

Why is It Called Mushroom Tea?

It could be due to the yeast that is used for the fermentation (yeast and mushrooms are fungi). 

How is Kombucha Made?

A blob-shaped colony of bacteria and yeast is combined with cold sweetened tea, then left for about a week or two to ferment. Then the liquid is drained off and bottled. Natural flavorings can also be added for those who don't care for the earthy taste.

Can You Drink Too Much Kombucha?

It's possible, but it's not clear how much is too much. There have been reports of liver damage and metabolic acidosis when the people involved drank large amounts (like one liter in one evening), though it turned out that the people who experienced this had other conditions that made them more susceptible to acidosis. A daily 4-ounce serving of kombucha should be safe, but if you have any health conditions or if you are pregnant, you should speak to your doctor about whether or not drinking kombucha is safe.

It's also possible that drinking kombucha that hasn't been stored properly would result in a foodborne type of illness.

Is Raw Kombucha Safe to Drink?

As long as the kombucha is handled properly under sanitary conditions and kept refrigerated, it should be okay for most people. Pasteurized kombucha is a safer choice because the pasteurization destroys and bad bacteria. Of course, the pasteurization also destroys the good probiotic bacteria. Raw kombucha should be avoided by women who are pregnant.

Another thing to consider is the possible alcohol content. If raw kombucha is left to ferment, the amount of alcohol can increase almost to the levels found in some bottles of beer. That might be a problem for anyone who needs to avoid drinking alcohol.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

You'll find bottled kombucha tea in the natural foods section of most grocery stores as well as in all health food stores. Raw kombucha must be kept refrigerated to prevent bacterial growth and to stop the fermentation process.

How to Make Kombucha

In order to make kombucha, you'll need a kombucha mother, also known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), black, green, or white tea, and some sugar and water. Brew the tea, add the sugar, and let it cool. Pour the tea into a jar and add the SCOBY. Keep it in a safe place and wait for it to ferment. Enjoy your tea hot or cold. You can even make kombucha sangria.

Tea, water, and sugar are all easy to find, but what about the SCOBY? You might find them in health food stores and online, and you can also make your own SCOBY from a bottle of kombucha. Many websites offer recipes.

Allergies and Interactions

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, you should not take kombucha if you have a compromised immune system or if you take any drugs that are sensitive to stomach pH levels, as the tea is acidic.

People with diabetes should use kombucha cautiously. And people who are sensitive to caffeine may want to exercise caution as well.

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Article Sources
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