Kombucha is a healthful and refreshing beverage made by fermenting tea. Until last summer, most of us assumed that ”fermented” meant that kombucha was something more like sauerkraut and miso than wine or beer. Then we all learned that kombucha did indeed contain more alcohol than was permitted by law for a non-alcohol beverage. And because kombucha contains live cultures the alcohol levels could change after bottling, depending on storage conditions and how long it was stored before being consumed.
Kombucha across the country was removed from shelves for several months as manufacturers grappled with the challenge of how to comply with the law. The dust has not entirely settled, but it is becoming clear that at least for now, almost all varieties of kombucha have been reformulated in some way so that they do not contain more than 0.5% alcohol, the legal limit for a non-alcohol beverage.
At CommuniTea Kombucha, we are concerned about taking any approach that may compromise the essential character of kombucha. We asked ourselves: if so many of the fundamental benefits come from the metabolic activity of the bacteria, could we really have good kombucha if we reduce to almost nothing the alcohol, which is their food source?
So, out of respect for the practice of 2,000 years, we have decided not to change our traditional recipe and procedure. The consequence is that we were required to get alcohol licenses from the federal and state governments. We have now accomplished that.
We are very happy with our decision and excited to be back at Farmers Markets. The five month delay was much preferable to reshaping our kombucha in order to meet some arbitrary regulatory standard.
Our delicious, raw, full-strength kombucha contains 2 to 2½% alcohol.