What Is Raw Kombucha? 10 Reasons Why You Should Drink It

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Raw kombucha is a fermented tea that has not been pasteurized to kill bacteria. Drinking kombucha has several health benefits, and raw kombucha may be even more beneficial than pasteurized kombucha. 

What Is Raw Kombucha?

Raw kombucha is traditional kombucha that has not undergone the pasteurization process. Pasteurization involves heating a liquid to kill off bacteria, salmonella, and other pathogens. However, not all bacteria are harmful.

Because raw kombucha has not been manipulated, the good bacteria in the drink are preserved, which harbor several benefits, including probiotics for gut health and the immune system.

Raw vs. Pasteurized Kombucha

Contains millions of live cultures and good bacteriaThe live cultures and bacteria have been removed
Contains some alcohol (less than 0.5%)Does not contain alcohol
Full of natural probioticsSometimes has added probiotic supplements
Acidic and carbonatedLess acidic and bubbly
Expires within 6-8 monthsShelf stable for more than 6 months, if correctly stored

Why Do Some People and Companies Pasteurize Kombucha?

Some home brewers may pasteurize their kombucha tea to eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria from forming, as their sanitation precautions may not be up to par with commercially produced kombucha. Unfortunately, getting rid of those unhealthy bacteria also means eliminating the naturally occurring bacteria in kombucha that contain healthy probiotics.

Some kombucha companies choose to pasteurize their kombucha to eliminate alcohol, which naturally occurs during the fermentation process. They will often supplement their kombucha with probiotics after pasteurization to provide the benefits most consumers want, but this is not considered raw kombucha. Once the temperature has been increased and the kombucha has undergone pasteurization, it is no longer raw.

Another reason some companies pasteurize their in-store kombucha is to increase the shelf life. Raw kombucha will expire naturally, while pasteurized kombucha can last over six months.

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Commercial pasteurization process

10 Health Benefits of Raw Kombucha

You have probably heard the hype about the health benefits of kombucha. Whether you realize it or not, most of these benefits are associated with raw kombucha because all the enzymes, organic acids, antioxidants, and good yeast and bacteria are left intact.

Raw kombucha:

  • Helps with digestion
  • Can help rid your body of toxins
  • May help boost metabolism and aid in weight loss
  • May reduce inflammation
  • Can possibly help prevent certain cancers
  • Can help strengthen the immune system
  • Can ward off high blood pressure
  • Undergoes fermentation, which aids in gut health by producing probiotics
  • Can ward off heart disease
  • May aid in constipation

Because raw kombucha still contains live cultures and probiotics, it is excellent for you and your digestive health.

Are There Any Dangers of Drinking Raw Kombucha?

Generally speaking, the benefits outweigh the risks when drinking raw kombucha. However, there are some factors to take into consideration, such as:

  • People with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible to the bacteria growth in raw kombucha.
  • Because unpasteurized kombucha contains small amounts of alcohol, some people prefer to avoid it.
  • Though rare, some people have reported severe allergic reactions, acidosis, and liver complications due to potentially contaminated kombucha batches.

Can You Drink Raw Kombucha Every Day?

Drinking raw kombucha daily does not typically present risks, but there may be a few side effects if you consume it regularly.

Some side effects may include:

  • Excess calorie consumption
  • Potential digestive tract issues and bloating
  • Increased sugar intake
  • Excessive caffeine intake

What Does Raw Kombucha Taste Like?

Kombucha is a fizzy, tangy drink with a hint of vinegar (like most fermented foods). Depending on the added flavors, it may be sweet (think strawberry or mango) or tart (like passionfruit or lime).

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Various kombucha flavors

Of course, the type of tea you use can affect the taste slightly as well. Black tea will have a bold, malty flavor, while green tea will have an earthy, grassy flavor.

Is Raw Kombucha Alcoholic?

Like other fermented foods and drinks, including sauerkraut and water kefir, raw kombucha naturally contains alcohol. However, this isn’t a drink you will sit around drinking to the point of intoxication.

Usually, the percentage of alcohol is very low. A typical commercial brew contains around 0.5% ABV, which technically makes it non-alcoholic. Generally speaking, homebrewed kombucha will have a slightly higher alcohol content.

Is Raw Kombucha More Expensive?

In-store kombucha ranges in price and quality. If you are drinking raw kombucha, you can expect to pay more than you would for pasteurized kombucha because you are paying for a higher-quality product yielding significant benefits.


Margaret has been drinking kombucha for its health benefits since 2010. Not only does she love drinking it, but she also enjoys brewing her own homemade booch. Her favorite combination so far is mint-strawberry, but she is always experimenting with new recipes.

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