The Truth About Kombucha’s Alcohol Content

shutterstock 2121645755
Because kombucha is a fermented beverage, it contains traces of alcohol. Some types of kombucha can have extremely low trace amounts of alcohol, about 0.1%, while other types of kombucha could have an alcohol level as high as 11%.

What Is the Alcohol Content of Kombucha?

This fermented tea drink carries faint traces of alcohol, but not to the extent of beer or wine. Most commercial kombucha has an ABV level of less than 0.5%. This ABV content is low enough for the drink to be considered a non-alcoholic beverage—and it will not get you buzzed.

Homebrewed kombucha, on the other hand, carries slightly higher levels of alcohol, ranging from anywhere between 1% to 2.5%. As kombucha goes through the fermentation process, it generates an alcoholic byproduct derived from sugar. The percentage varies from batch to batch but rarely exceeds 2.5%, making it relatively tame in ABV.

What Causes Kombucha’s Alcohol Content to Change?

Many variables affect alcohol content in the kombucha-making process.

Commercialized kombucha is less alcoholic than homemade kombucha because the drink undergoes a non-heat distillation process. Distillation of kombucha at home is complex because the most accessible way to do it is through heat—and heating kombucha isn’t optimal if you want to reap the benefits of the good bacteria in the beverage.

In addition, home brewers may employ different brewing methods, which can affect the resulting kombucha’s alcohol content. Here are some of the factors that can reduce homemade kombucha’s alcohol level:

  • Exposing kombucha brew to oxygen during production
  • Stripping away additional flavors
  • Using high-quality yeast
  • Brewing at cooler temperatures

That said, the most significant factor as to why kombucha carries different alcohol contents lies in the duration of its fermentation process. By allowing the kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to ferment for longer, more sugar molecules convert to ethanol, thus increasing the alcohol content.

shutterstock 1075890566
Fermentation process

In other words, a week-old fermented tea could contain less alcohol than a two-week-old kombucha serving, even if there’s been no ingredient alteration.

Can Kombucha Tea Trigger a Breathalyzer?

Unless the kombucha has been fully distilled and aerated, kombucha tea may trigger a breathalyzer. Even with a measly ABV of 0.5% to 2.5%, kombucha still contains a small amount of alcohol, which is all that’s needed to prompt a positive result from the breathalyzer.

On top of that, breath sprays, asthma medications, oral gels, and a slew of over-the-counter pills can also prompt a positive result. Hopefully, the person administering the breathalyzer recognizes these nuances.

Do You Have to Be 21 to Buy Kombucha?

If you’re under 21 years old, you can purchase any commercialized kombucha classified with an ABV level of 0.5% or lower. Fortunately, most kombuchas on retail shelves fall under this category, so you don’t have to worry about getting reprimanded for illegal activities.

Can Children Drink Kombucha?

Absolutely! This bubbly beverage is a great healthy drink for children four years old and above, thanks to its health benefits and antioxidants.

shutterstock 1722171271
Various flavors of kombucha

That said, toddlers and younger children may be unable to stomach brewed kombucha’s acidic and vinegary flavor. To make kombucha more palatable to children, try diluting the drink with water. This will help reduce its sour flavor while allowing the breadth of this beverage’s refreshing flavors to emerge.

Does Alcoholic Kombucha Exist?

Yes, alcoholic kombucha, also known as hard kombucha, exists. It has fewer probiotics than mainstream kombucha but is still a healthier alternative than most hard beverages like beer and wine.

Hard kombucha has an ABV content of anywhere between 3.5-11%, which is a higher alcohol content compared to beer or seltzer. Most hard commercialized kombuchas have an ABV of 7%. Unlike regular kombucha, hard kombucha can get you tipsy or even drunk if you drink too much at once.

Due to its higher alcoholic content, this type of kombucha is off-limits to anyone under the age of 21. If you’re of legal drinking age, you could find and buy boozy booch on the same shelves as other alcoholic beverages.


Joshua recently discovered flavored kombucha and has since become a fan of its taste and health properties. He's currently attempting to taste test at least 20 different kombucha flavors, and his current favorite is apple kombucha.

Recent Posts