Kombucha tea, considered an “immortal health elixir” by the ancient Chinese for over 2,000 years, has brewers scrambling for an alcohol tester specialized for fermented drinks in order to avoid fines.
During the first half of the 20th century, Russian and German scientist invested thousands of hours into the search for a possible cure for cancer using kombucha tea. They noted that people indigenous to the areas where the tea first originated were seemingly immune to cancer. Unfortunately, research was discontinued due to the tea’s low profits.
This “immortal health elixir” claims to:
- Detoxify the liver and aid in cancer prevention through rich enzymes.
- Increase glucosamine, which can lead to better joint health and improve the lives of those with arthritis.
- Help with digestion and stomach health.
- Fight and allegedly cure fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety.
- Boost the immune system through rich antioxidants.
Kombucha tea grew in popularity from the 1950s to the 1960s within in the U.S. market, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau developed an interest in the tea and its alcohol content.
Federal authorities warn brewers to ensure their labels advertise its alcohol content or face fines.
Brewers disagree with these mandates, noting that many fruits naturally ferment on shelves to the same level of alcohol concentration as that which exists within kombucha tea. Fermentation is a process involving one or more types of bacteria acting on a substance when the substance has no exposure to oxygen, making it the perfect environment for aging.
Brewers are requesting a new test, one that’s specific to fermented drinks. Current alcohol testers don’t take naturally occurring sediments, tea leaves, and stands of yeast into consideration. Federal authorities are interested in a new test but will continue to hand out fines for improperly printed labels until then.
To compare, the average beer contains 4.2% for its alcohol concentration, whereas kombucha tea sits at 1%. Kombucha only contains alcohol if it is aged and not refrigerated. Although the percentage is low, it’s too high for minors.
This “immortal health elixir” claims to aid in a variety of medical capacities, but claims are not yet supported by hard scientific evidence or research. There are, however, reports of:
- Upset stomach
- Allergic reactions
Do you think there’s a need for new alcohol testing technology to target fermented products?
- A. Bauer. (2014, June 4). What is kombucha tea? Does it have any health benefits? [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert- answers/kombucha-tea/faq-20058126
Fox News. (2015, Oct. 12). Kombucha makers want new alcohol test for fermented tea. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/10/12/kombucha-makers-want-new- alcohol-test-for-fermented-tea/
- Michaelis. (2015). Kombucha Health Benefits. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.foodrenegade.com/kombucha-health-benefits/