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Kombucha Withdrawn From Stores

I’ve always been a fan of kombucha, the fermented tea touted for its health benefits.

But the buzz I would get from store-bought kombucha always made me feel like a light-weight. The labels claimed that the tea had less than a 0.5% alcohol content, but drinking a bottle of kombucha would make me feel like I’d had half a glass of wine.

Well, apparently I had no reason to feel embarrassed by my reaction to kombucha. In mid-June, suppliers of unpasteurized kombucha agreed to a voluntary withdrawal of the tea after tests indicated alcohol levels as high as 3% – the same alcohol content as a light beer.

Kombucha makers insist that the tea leaves production with only a trace amount of alcohol. But raw kombucha might continue to ferment in the bottle after it has left production facilities as live yeast continue to convert sugars into alcohol.

Interestingly, the removal of raw kombucha from Whole Foods and other stores has been linked to tabloid star Lindsay Lohan, after rumors surfaced that kombucha set off Lohan’s alcohol monitoring bracelet. Lohan was recently sentenced to jail time for unrelated probation violations in a drunk-driving case.

The government is currently testing samples of unpasteurized kombucha to determine how it should be labeled. In the meantime, kombucha producers are weighing their options. Obvious solutions include pasteurization, which fans fear would inhibit health benefits, or marketing the tea as alcohol, which would add taxes and government regulation.

If you’re missing your kombucha, you can still find pasteurized versions of the beverage in stores. Or you can always try to brew your own raw kombucha at home!

Images courtesy of saeru via a Creative Commons license.

10 comments
    1. rachelshulman

      I know! I noticed a week or so ago that kombucha wasn't in stock at Whole Foods, but my brain didn't process that something was up. Then one of my friends mentioned the whole Lindsay Lohan rumor, and I was like, what the heck how did I miss this? But now I'm missing my kombucha! Guess I'll have to start my own brew!

  1. yelena

    its completely different type of alcohol.don't compare it to bear and vine.my kids use to drink it. and i have my own kombucha and home i cook it by my self.but its not enough for our family.
    any cola sprite this is enemy for your body and for your kids.somebody was just really jealous to kombucha:((((sorry for my English.

    1. rachelshulman

      What do you mean that kombucha has a different kind of alcohol? I was under the impression that alcohol is alcohol. Can you elaborate?

      However, I agree with you that kombucha is probably better for children than soda!

  2. yelena

    like marijuana when its grow organically,its different.and when you buy it from drug dealer its become a heavy drug. Don'T take me wrong ,i don't smoke and don't drink .even if you drink 5 bottle of kombucha you not gonna feel the same what you feel after on bottle of bear.chemical process make alcohol more danger.its such a small amount of alcohol in side kombucha .kombucha become a strong concurrent to soda this is the reason why we don't see kombucha now.

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