Many people nowadays consider switching from beer to hard kombucha. So, is hard kombucha alcoholic? How much alcohol does it contain? Keep reading to find out.
Kombucha is made by combining black tea or green tea with specific strains of bacteria, yeast, and sugar. The mixture is then allowed to ferment at room temperature for a few weeks.
During this time, bacteria and yeast create a mushroom-like layer covering the tea’s surface.
The fermentation process gives kombucha its distinct flavor and characteristics. Aside from the probiotic bacteria, it also has a little bit of alcohol, carbon dioxide, acetic acid, and other acids.
So, when it comes to this fermented beverage, one of the most common questions is: is hard kombucha alcoholic? The short answer is yes — kombucha contains some alcohol, but it is not technically considered an alcoholic drink.
How Much Alcohol Is In Hard Kombucha?
Kombucha is not created to be intoxicating, although there are some alcoholic kombuchas available on the market. However, commercial kombuchas have varying alcohol content — and this alcohol is naturally occurring, not added. This is because a small amount of alcohol is produced due to the fermentation process.
Brewers can even reduce the alcohol content of kombucha using different methods, but still, the actual alcohol content varies depending on several factors. The alcohol in kombucha is produced when the yeast consumes the sugar and then ferments it into CO2 and ethanol. The amount of alcohol in each batch of kombucha varies since traditional kombucha is naturally fermented and not pasteurized.
In other words, alcohol is produced naturally during fermentation and cannot be prevented. All fermented products, like vinegar, soy sauce, sauerkraut, and kefir, contain alcohol.
Different kombucha brands may have different alcohol content. Check the product’s label first and ensure it is unpasteurized and organic since each type of kombucha is made differently.
Homemade kombucha tends to have a higher alcohol content, so be mindful when making it, or you may end up making a vinegary moonshine. The length of the fermentation process will affect kombucha’s alcohol content.
The type of yeast used to make kombucha also affects its alcohol content. Yeasts that can ferment at lower temperatures will produce kombucha with lower alcohol content.
Is Hard Kombucha Healthy?
Hard kombuchas have lower calories, carbohydrates, and sugar than other alcoholic drinks. An average hard kombucha contains 100 to 150 calories, five to 13 grams of carbohydrates, and two to ten grams of sugar per serving. These amounts may vary depending on the brand, though, but hard kombuchas are still considered to be a pretty light drink.
Hard kombucha is also gluten-free — the recipe does not include any ingredients that contain gluten. In addition, unlike beer, it is not made from barley or wheat. However, you should always check the label first, just to be safe.
Hard kombucha also offers other health benefits. Both hard kombucha and regular kombucha are made from black tea or green tea, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Furthermore, it also contains polyphenols and some acids that can help maximize the nutritional potential of food and improve your digestion.
How To Make Hard Kombucha
In this section, we will show you how to make hard kombucha using the traditional method.
- Gallon jar
- Rubber bands
- Nine to 18 g of green tea or black tea
- 500 ml of hot water
- 250 g of cane sugar
- Two liters of cold water
Step 1: Brew The Tea
Brew tea in hot water for about 15 to 45 minutes.
Step 2: Add Sugar
Add the sugar, then stir to dissolve.
Pour the sweet tea into the jar.
Step 3: Add The Other Ingredients
Add the cold water and kombucha SCOBY.
Step 4: Ferment
Cover with a cloth and secure it using a rubber band. Let it ferment for about five to 14 days at room temperature.
Set aside 500 ml of the liquid and the kombucha SCOBY in a container and put it in your fridge. You can use this to start your next production of hard kombucha.
Step 5: Flavor
Flavor the remaining kombucha. Hard kombuchas are usually low in sugar, so you can add 50 ml of honey or 200 ml of fruit juice if you prefer a sweeter taste.
Step 6: Filter
Filter the kombucha using a cloth or strainer to remove the particles. Then, stir the bottom of the jar to collect all the yeast.
Place the bottles in your sink. Fill them up using a funnel (up to one centimeter from the opening).
Store the bottles at room temperature. Remember that kombuchas with high yeast content will ferment faster in bottles. Taste the kombucha to check if the quantity of fizz is enough for you.
You can slow down the second fermentation process by storing the bottles in your fridge.
This hard kombucha can be kept for one to two months since fermentation will continue because of the yeast. It will still be good to drink, though, but it will become more sparkling over time.
You may also be interested in reading our guide on how to make hard kombucha at home.
5 Best Hard Kombucha Brands
If you do not have the time to make your own drink at home, here are some of the best hard kombucha brands.
1. Flying Embers
Flying Embers, a favorite among bartenders, has a wide range of flavors, from Berry and Ginger to more unusual combinations like Pineapple Chili and Watermelon Basil. Additionally, it is available in different ABV levels, from 4.5% to 9%. Flying Embers’ hard kombucha still manages to be full of flavor even without sugar or carbs — and it works well in cocktails, too!
Boochcraft is a certified organic brand that uses only fresh, cold-pressed fruits, and botanicals and herbs in its kombucha. In addition, it composts paper towels, tea bags, herbs, fruit peels, and even SCOBYs that are past their prime. The company also works to avoid water waste as much as possible.
Boochcraft is also worth checking out for its many flavor options and very attractive can designs. The core flavors includes unique flavors such as Apple Jasmine, Grapefruit Hibiscus, and Strawberry Lemonade — all of which are available in 7% ABV.
Jiant brewers use Dragon Well (or Longjing) green tea, which is known for its low amounts of astringency and tannins, to make their hard kombucha. The tea is combined with water and acacia honey like the Heavenly Organics Acacia Honey to create the kombucha that serves as the base of the hard drink. The honey can be tasted on the first sip, which gives this drink a sweeter taste and creates a mellow drinking experience.
These easy-going hard kombuchas have a 5% ABV — the perfect drink for a chill afternoon!
Many people prefer JuneShine hard kombucha because of its balanced acidity, low sugar levels, and natural fermentation. It is also made with jun tea as its base — a kombucha-like tea made from green tea that is sweetened with honey.
JuneShine offers flavors like Blood Orange Mint, Honey Ginger Lemon, and Mango Daydream. However, the cocktail-based flavors distinguish this brand — like the Midnight Painkiller and Grapefruit Paloma.
Furthermore, this hard kombucha brand is also environment-friendly. They are carbon neutral and donate 1% of all sales to 1% For The Planet, an international organization that supports environmental solutions.
5. Dr. Hops
The alcohol content of Dr Hops hard kombucha ranges from 9% to 11% — one of the booziest kombuchas available on the market. However, you cannot tell that it has a high alcohol content from its taste, so drink slowly!
There are a lot of flavors to choose from, including the luscious Kombucha Rosé (11% ABV), which is perfect for wine lovers. If you want to switch from beer to hard kombucha, the Kombucha IPA (9% ABV) is an excellent option. It tastes similar to a shandy with just a hint of the kombucha’s distinctive tang.
Even if they offer an IPA flavor, Dr Hops’ hard kombuchas are more like a cocktail than a beer because of their fresh fruit flavors and relatively high alcohol content.
You may also be interested in reading our guide on where to buy hard kombucha.