Why Is There a Controversy of Kombucha Tea?
Over-the-counter health products are not always safe. Kombucha tea has been around for nearly 2,000 years. It was first brewed in China and then spread to Japan, Russia, Europe, and the U.S. This is a fermented and sweetened tea that is made with black or green tea. While this drink is known for having many health benefits, there has been plenty of controversy over this tea because of the alcohol levels that the drink contains.
Kombucha tea has vitamins, amino acids, and other nutrients that are good for your body. A symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast is placed in the sweetened tea mixture and left at room temperature for one to three weeks, and then bottled for one to two weeks to contain the released CO2 to carbonate. This tea must be refrigerated to slow down the carbonation and fermentation process. Pasteurization needs to occur because any bottle that is in the refrigerator for too long or unrefrigerated for too long can raise alcohol levels. In fermentation, the yeast consumes the sugar and is fermented into carbon monoxide and ethanol.
There are many health benefits that come from Kombucha tea such as probiotics which provide your stomach with healthy bacteria which improves digestion, inflammation, and weight loss. There are also antioxidants that fight molecules that damage cells. While there have been no human tests yet, this could be promising towards liver disease. Kombucha tea can also reduce liver toxicity that is caused by toxic chemicals as well as lower chances of heart disease. This tea is rich in tea polyphenols and acetic acid to kill off bacteria and prevents the growth and spread of cancerous cells.
Controversy started in 2010 when it was discovered at a Food Sciences Lab at the University of Maine that the bottles contained alcohol levels over 0.5%-2.5%. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, there should be less than 0.5% of alcohol in fear of kids getting a buzz from drinking it. On June 15, 2010, Whole Foods temporarily removed Kombucha tea to change the bottles. Currently, PepsiCo is making a Kombucha tea brand to introduce millions to the health benefits of the tea called KeVita. It is best to check the labels at health food stores or online to make sure that the alcohol levels in the tea are less than 0.5%.