Kombucha​ Nutrition Facts

Calories in Kombucha and Its Health Benefits

kombucha
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Kombucha can be described as 'fermented tea, 10' and it's sometimes called mushroom tea even though it doesn't have any mushrooms. People who drink kombucha often do so because they believe it has health benefits. It's possible that kombucha may have some antibacterial properties, but beyond that, there isn't much research evidence to support health claims.

Kombucha Nutrition Facts

Kombucha Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 6 ounces (177 ml)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 0 
Calories from Fat 0 
Total Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 5mg 
Carbohydrates 3g 
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugars 3g 
Protein 0g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% · Iron 0%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Kombucha, much like any other tea, doesn't have much nutritional value but it does have some B-complex vitamins such as thiamin and niacin. It's low in calories, too. Plain kombucha tea has less than 10 calories per 6-ounce serving.

It's important to note this nutrition information is for plain kombucha and commercial varieties that contain other ingredients such as fruits or berries may have more calories. Still, they also tend to be low-calorie beverages.

Since kombucha is made with tea, it usually has some caffeine, but the amount can vary. Kombucha can also have trace amounts of alcohol as a result of the fermentation process (that's one reason to keep it refrigerated) and contains a variety of phytochemical compounds that come from the tea used to make the drink.

Health Benefits of Kombucha

Most of the research on kombucha has been done in laboratory settings and not on humans, so it's not known if the fermentation products or bacteria have anything to offer.

Moreover, any health benefits could be due to whatever type of tea is used to make the kombucha. For example, kombucha made with green tea may offer any of the health benefits of green tea.

There are a couple of possible health benefits not due solely to the base tea use to make the drink though. Raw kombucha is a good source of probiotics that may be beneficial for your digestive health, but some commercial varieties are pasteurized, which essentially kills off the beneficial bacteria as well as the bad.

Read the label to see if you're purchasing raw or pasteurized kombucha.

Kombucha may contain compounds such as catechins (from the tea) called isorhamnetin (that's not normally found in tea), which may have antibacterial and antiviral properties. It's possible that drinking kombucha could combat some of the organisms that cause gastroenteritis. More studies are necessary to know for sure.

Common Questions About Kombucha 

Where did kombucha come from?

Kombucha tea originated in China over 2,000 years ago. 

Why is it called mushroom tea?

That's a good question. It could be due to the yeast that is used for the fermentation (yeast and mushrooms are fungi) and mushroom tea sounds much better than fungus tea or yeast tea. 

How is kombucha made?

A blob-shaped colony of bacteria and yeast is combined with cold sweetened tea, then left for about a week or two to ferment. Then the liquid is drained off and bottled. Natural flavorings can also be added for those who don't care for the earthy taste.

Can you drink too much kombucha?

It's possible, but it's not clear how much is too much. There have been reports of liver damage and metabolic acidosis when the people involved drank large amounts (like one liter in one evening).

A serving or two of kombucha should be safe but if you have any health conditions or if you are pregnant, you should speak to your doctor about whether or not drinking kombucha is safe.

It's also possible that drinking kombucha that hasn't been stored properly would result in a foodborne type of illness.

Is raw kombucha safe to drink?

As long as the kombucha is handled properly under sanitary conditions and kept refrigerated, it should be okay. Pasteurized kombucha is a safer choice because the pasteurization destroys and bad bacteria. Of course, the pasteurization also destroys the good probiotic bacteria.

Another thing to consider is the possible alcohol content. If raw kombucha is left to ferment, the amount of alcohol can increase almost to the levels found in some bottles of beer. That might be a problem for anyone who needs to avoid drinking alcohol.

Buying and Storing Kombucha

You'll find bottled kombucha tea in the natural foods section of most grocery stores as well as in all health food stores. Raw kombucha must be kept refrigerated to prevent bacterial growth and to stop the fermentation process.

How to Make Kombucha

In order to make kombucha, you'll need a kombucha mother, also known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), black, green, or white tea, and some sugar and water. Brew the tea, add the sugar, and let it cool. Pour the tea into a jar and add the ​SCOBY. Keep it in a safe place and wait for it to ferment. Here are a few recipes for making kombucha:

Tea, water, and sugar are all easy to find, but what about the SCOBY? You might find them in health food stores and online, and you can also make your own SCOBY from a bottle of kombucha.

Sources:

Gedela M, Potu KC, Gali VL, Alyamany K, Jha LK. "A Case of Hepatotoxicity Related to Kombucha Tea Consumption." S D Med. 2016 Jan;69(1):26-8.

Bhattacharya, D., Bhattacharya, S., Patra, M.M. et al. "Antibacterial Activity of Polyphenolic Fraction of Kombucha Against Enteric Bacterial Pathogens." Curr Microbiol (2016) 73: 885. doi:10.1007/s00284-016-1136-3

Natural Medicines. "Kombucha Tea Monograph." 

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service USDA Branded Food Products Database. "Full Report (All Nutrients):  45137020, GT'S, KOMBUCHA, UPC: 722430000169."

Vīna Ilmāra, Semjonovs Pāvels, Linde Raimonds, and Deniņa Ilze. "Current Evidence on Physiological Activity and Expected Health Effects of Kombucha Fermented Beverage." Journal of Medicinal Food. February 2014, 17(2): 179-188. doi:10.1089/jmf.2013.0031.

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