How safe is Kombucha?
How safe is Kombucha?
Kombucha or Mushroom Tea is simply tea, sugar and a SCOBY. Making Kombucha is easy as boiling water, add sugar, add tea, cool, add SCOBY, cover and wait a few days.
As Kombucha ferments it goes from very sweet to a very sour drink. When fermenting your own you can drink it whenever it is to your liking. On the first day of brewing the pH is usually just under 7.0. Each day the pH should drop slightly as the sugar converts to nutrients and beneficial acids. The ideal ferment should end up around pH 2.5- 3.0.
You can use pH testing strips to monitor this
If under fermented the Kombucha may contain pathogens or fail to produce the beneficial nutrients. If over-fermented it will be higher in acetic acid which can overburden the stomach’s digestive juices.
The acidity aids the stomach’s digestive juices and helps break down food and prevent stagnation. Acetic Acid from Kombucha and Lactic Acid from kefir are weak acids. When ingested, they react with minerals such as Calcium, Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium in the body tissue and blood, to form alkalies. This reaction is termed Alkaline-forming foods. That is how an acetic Kombucha tea actually helps alkalize the body. However you have to be very careful in not over doing this. An excess will rob your body of ionic minerals. As such one or 2 cups a day is plenty.
How much is too much?
For a normal healthy adult the amount is thought to be 4-8 fluid ounces daily. Kombucha tea is not leeching because it is alkaline forming so it will not create acidosis in a healthy person. If it does then this points to a much deeper issue in the body.
Kombucha is completely safe when properly fermented. As mentioned before pH testing with strips are a good indicator as is taste. A sour, vinegary taste is a good indication as well.
Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidus, and common yeasts such as saccharomyces boulardii are commonly found in a typical Kombucha ferment. However effects found from one species or strain of probiotics do not necessarily hold true for others, or even for different preparations of the same species or strain.
Care and preparation of a Kombucha ferment is more critical at this time.
Wild and airborne bacteria and yeasts which probably inhabit a typical ferment and which does not present any threat to a healthy adult may be intolerable in certain circumstances. Probiotics do have a long history without causing illness in people, and have recently been introduced in foods directed at helping certain disorders. However more information is especially needed on how safe they are for young children, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems.
Children and pregnant women - Alcohol, sugar and caffeine are all things that children should avoid.
Kombucha tea can have a varying amounts of alcohol in it. The typical amount is 1/2 of 1%. However It depends upon the length of ferment and other factors. In the first few days or in a cooler temperatures, the alcohol content will be higher with the highest level about 4%. The longer you ferment the less alcohol sugar it will contain. However it will always contain some alcohol and sugar. The sugar will be in the form of fructose. Caffeine levels depend upon the tea used. Kombucha tea usually has around 30% of the caffeine that is listed for the particular tea per serving. For a normal healthy adult these levels are not problem and actually are beneficial. Yet for many alcoholics, diabetics and those with severe caffeine sensitivity those levels are still too high or have to be carefully monitored.