How much kombucha should I drink?
I know this is a really annoying answer, but it depends.
How much kombucha you should drink depends on a lot of things:
Where did you get it? Homebrewed? Store-bought?
How long was the brew fermented? A week? A month?
Where was it kept? Clean space? Moldy cupboard?
What type of tea was used?
How much sugar was used?
Do you have any medical conditions that might be affected by sugar intake? Acidic foods? Caffeine? Trace amounts of alcohol?
Have you had kombucha before?
Do you like the way kombucha tastes?
This question is sort of like asking someone “How much milk should I drink?” There are a lot of variables that play into the answer. Like if you have too much/too little calcium in your system, if you’re lactose intolerant, if you’re vegan, if the milk is spoiled or mishandled…
But I think with kombucha in particular, people really fixate on how much to drink as if it’s some type of “dosage” or as if drinking too much of it could poison you. I don’t think kombucha is any different from other foods. We don’t need to dose it out because it’s not medication. And it’s definitely not poison.
The bottom line is that it’s just fermented tea. And like with literally every other food we consume, it’ll affect us all slightly differently. If you haven’t already, I recommend that you check out my post on “Is kombucha good for you?” for more info on this.
You should also note that not all kombucha is created equal — what you buy at the store will be different than my homebrew and different than his, hers, their homebrews. How you react to one kombucha may not be how you react to all kombucha.
That’s why all the questions I posed above are so relevant. If you’re drinking kombucha that was not properly made, it could bring out negative reactions in your body that is more the brewer’s fault than kombucha’s fault. (Spoiler alert: If anyone’s giving you kombucha that was brewed in a moldy cupboard, don’t drink it.)
You can jump down to any of the sections that apply to you, or just keep scrolling:
If you’ve never had kombucha…
And if you’re concerned about how it might react with your body, start out with just drinking 2-4 oz. per day. Drink at least an equal amount of water with it and see how you feel. Like it? The next day, start drinking 6 oz. The day after that, try 8 oz. Make sure you’re staying hydrated (though we should all be drinking lots of water whether we consume kombucha or not).
If you like the way it makes you feel, keep drinking it.
I’ve never had any ill-effects with drinking kombucha, whether store-bought or homebrewed. So there’s definitely a portion of the population that takes to it immediately even without easing into it.
Some people claim that they experience some “detox” symptoms as the body supposedly cleanses itself of toxins — these symptoms can include tummy issues or even headaches. They’re usually very mild (if they happen at all) and in most cases, they go away. But everyone is different, and everyone has a different level of tolerance for these things. So you have to decide for yourself how to best handle it.
I’ve also found that a lot of people like to point the finger at kombucha (because it’s the “new kid on the block”) and blame kombucha for tummy troubles when they don’t consider that it might be something else they ate that caused their problem. If you have a bottle of kombucha along with some pizza, ice cream, chips and an iced coffee — and you have a stomach ache. Does kombucha really seem like the most likely suspect here? Or is it overeating? So oftentimes, we just need to look at what we’re consuming holistically.
If you’re pregnant or nursing. Or if you want to avoid alcoholic beverages for any reason…
There’s a lot of debate about whether or not kombucha is alcoholic or contains trace amounts of alcohol. You can read more about this on my post on “Is kombucha alcoholic?”
I believe that it’s really difficult for home brewed kombucha to ever exceed 2% ABV (alcohol by volume) and that’s on the high-end — say if you’ve accidentally left an airtight bottle fermenting in a hot car for about a month. But honestly at that point, the kombucha will likely be too vinegar-y and too fizzy to even be drinkable.
But the truth of it is that the longer kombucha ferments, the more potential it has to have trace amounts of alcohol. (And I really mean trace.) But just because it has the potential to do that, doesn’t mean it actually happens. It depends on so many factors (including the brewer’s unique culture/SCOBY, ingredients and environment). Some SCOBYs will produce no alcohol at all, no matter how long you ferment with it. And some SCOBYs with specific alcohol-producing yeasts may be more prone to producing alcohol.
There are a lot of pregnant or breast-feeding women who like to drink kombucha, and others choose to steer clear.
Recovering alcoholics may choose to not drink kombucha because even trace amounts of alcohol could affect them, whether physically or mentally. But there are also recovering alcoholics who prefer to drink kombucha because it does not give them any alcoholic buzz and because the bubbliness and flavor is a good replacement for/helps curb cravings for beer or wine.
Parents can determine for themselves if they want to give kombucha to children. Some parents say it helps with kids’ upset tummies, some can’t even get their kids to try it.
And people who take medications which may have ill-effects from the consumption of even trace amounts of alcohol should also factor this info into their decision-making.
Kombucha is also considered halal by the Muslim faith (which prohibits the consumption of alcohol).
You should make your choice on a case-by-case basis with your own, unique body.
If you’re diabetic…
Again, this depends on how sensitive your blood sugar levels are. Kombucha generally does not contain any more sugar than other fruit juices on the market (and oftentimes much less). And the good thing about home brewing is that you know exactly how much sugar you’re putting in. Plus — the yeasts eating the sugar will actually eat a good amount of that sugar during the fermentation process.
There will of course still be some residual sugar left in the end product, but if given the choice between a soda (or even a chemical-laden diet soda) and a homemade bottle of kombucha, I happen to think the kombucha is the better option for wellness. But that's just my opinion.
Both my parents have Type II diabetes, and they both consume my home brewed kombucha, drinking about 4-8 oz. per day. They say that it gives them energy and it helps curb their sugar + soda cravings. And these are two people who love drinking their Diet Cokes. So I’m a lot happier with them drinking my kombucha than a canned soda.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. Listen to your body. Consume what you like and what contributes to your overall wellness.
I have to put this disclaimer here because this is the internet and people like to nitpick, but we make no medical claims about kombucha. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.