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Part One - Kombucha FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions


(Part 1 of 2 - 6.1 - 6.50)

© Copyright  1995 - 2000 Colleen M. Allen







Miscellaneous (part 1 of 2 -  6.1 - 6.50 )

Miscellaneous (part 2 of 2 -  6.51 - 6.96)

Kombucha Colony



Kombucha FAQ Home Page

6. MISCELLANEOUS (part 1 of 2 - 6.1 - 6.50)



6.1 Have there been any reports of unusual reactions from drinking Kombucha Tea?

There have been a few reports posted over the Kombucha Mailing List by a very small percentage of people--just starting to drink Kombucha Tea--who appear to have experienced unusual reactions such as headache, rash, wakefulness, intestinal gas, and nausea. However, most symptoms have been alleviated by increasing their intake of fresh water; while in some cases--such as headache for instance--by also cutting back on the amount of Kombucha Tea consumed daily.

In cases of wakefulness, they had been advised to drink their Kombucha Tea earlier in the afternoon--rather than just before bed--or to switch to a decaffeinated tea as a substitute for a caffeinated tea.

In the very few reports of having developed a rash, usually an increase in the intake of water appears to alleviate this symptom.

As far as I know, there have been no reports of true allergic reaction to Kombucha, however, since it is a food it isn't impossible. If you have a prior history of "true food allergy," or "food sensitivity," you may be wise to start drinking Kombucha at the rate of a tablespoon a day, to see if you develop a sensitivity, then begin increasing your intake only after it has been established that you are not sensitive to any of the components in Kombucha. If any irregular manifestations continue, I would suggest that you stop drinking Kombucha Tea for a few days to see if they stop, then start again more slowly-- drinking only an ounce or less a day and begin working up from there.

The majority of antipathetic symptoms which have been reported while drinking Kombucha Tea, appear to be due to over-consumption without adequate intake of fresh water. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of water per day is 64 fluid ounces.

This information should not be construed as "medical advice," simply a few suggestions which may prove helpful in eliminating these undesired results.

Colleen Allen

6.2 Should I store sealed bottled Kombucha Tea in the refrigerator?

It should be kept cool.

6.3 What temperature has been used to store bottled Kombucha Tea?

Normal refrigerator temperature is sufficient.

6.4 Should I stop fermentation before bottling Kombucha Tea?

No. Capping right away will keep the effervescence (CO2) in the bottle. As long as the bottled Kombucha is kept cool in a refrigerator, the fermentation process will be slowed way down, and excessive pressure should not build up inside the bottles.

6.5 How long will bottled Kombucha Tea keep?

There have been some reports stating that bottled Kombucha has remained viable for up to one year, as long as it is kept in the refrigerator, or another type of cold storage. If not kept in cool, the microörganisms will not survive, although many of the other components found in the ferment will remain stable.

6.6 What does one year old bottled Kombucha Tea taste like?

According to various reports I've read from people who have kept Kombucha bottled for that length of time, they say it tastes smooth and mellow, and not the least bit vinegary.

6.7 Has there ever been a death officially attributed to Kombucha Tea?

No, there has never been a death officially attributed to drinking Kombucha Tea.

6.8 What can make Kombucha Tea toxic?

Kombucha Tea can become toxic if it becomes contaminated by pathogenic moulds or bacteria, such as C. botulism. However, these organisms will not grow in an acidic medium below pH 4.

See also:

6.9 Can people with diabetes drink Kombucha Tea?

Many diabetics report they have had absolutely no problems drinking it; while others may need to reduce their intake of sugars, or adjust their insulin to compensate. One way to reduce the sugar content is to ferment for a longer period of time. A recent lab test done confirmed a sugar value of 1.65 grams in one ounce of Kombucha Tea that had been fermented for 15 days. Keep in mind however, that a long fermentation period will result in an acidic (vinegary) tasting beverage which many people find totally unpalatable.

6.10 Is the caffeine in Kombucha Tea all used up by the colony?

No. The caffeine content of Kombucha Tea remains unchanged by the fermentation process.

6.11 Can you drink Kombucha Tea hot?

Although heating will destroy the enzymes, microörganisms and some of the vitamins which are found in Kombucha Tea, many of the other components remain stable.

6.12 What is the shelf life of bottled Kombucha Tea?

At least one year, if stored properly in cold storage, according to Günther Frank.

6.13 Can I make Kombucha Tea in large amounts?

Yes. Just use a larger container and double or triple the ingredients.

6.14 Do I have to ferment Kombucha Tea in the dark?

No. It doesn't appear to make any difference. Kombucha can be fermented in full daylight, total darkness, or anywhere in-between. Some people living in far Northern climates such as Alaska, have reported very good results when fermenting their Kombucha Tea in full morning and afternoon sunshine during the winter months. Avoid placing your fermenting containers in a spot that receives full afternoon sunlight during the late spring, summer, and early fall months because the contents of the jar will heat up very quickly, and destroy the microörganisms which are needed from proper fermentation.

6.15 How much Kombucha Tea can I drink daily?

Some people only drink 4 ounces once or twice daily others are drinking 30 ounces or more per day without any ill effects.

6.16 How much Kombucha Tea is drunk daily to start?

It is a personal choice. Some people only drink 4 ounces once, or twice daily, others are drinking 30 ounces, or more, per day. However, most new Kombucha drinkers are advised to start out with an ounce or two and increase gradually over several weeks.

6.17 How much alcohol is in Kombucha Tea?

The amount will vary, depending on growing conditions and amount of sugar used. Usually less than .5% on up to 1.5%.

6.18 What does mould look like?

Mould usually is hairy or fuzzy looking and can be black, green or white and usually grows in circular patches. If mould should develop in your Kombucha Tea, throw everything away, sterilize the equipment and start over with a Kombucha colony from a new source.

See also:

6.19 Is it necessary to strain Kombucha Tea before drinking it?

No, the fibers found in the tea after fermentation will not hurt you. However, if you feel you really don't want to drink them, just filter them out. Most people find filtering to be more trouble than it's worth, and just drink the tea--fibers and all.

6.20 What can I use to strain my Kombucha Tea?

Clean cotton muslin, cheese-cloth, unbleached paper coffee filters, fine plastic strainers, or anything of this nature will work equally well.

6.21 Why must I add 10% fermented tea to start of each new batch?

This is done to acidify the new solution right at the very beginning, (to lower the pH.) Most moulds and pathogenic bacteria will not grow in an acidic medium below 4.

6.22 Can children drink Kombucha Tea?

Michael Roussin, Director of the Kombucha Consumer Research Group ™ says: "Until today (4 Jan 1996), I would have recommended that Kombucha not be given to pre-puberty children. The reasons are iffy, and propounded in several books and papers, but the basis for those iffy suggestions are not valid, therefore, the suggestions are not valid either. In short, there is no reason (except concerns about caffeine) not to give Kombucha to children. I would suggest small amounts (less than 2 ounces per day per year of age), since we have not fully researched the effects of some of the compounds we've identified on human physiology. While our initial impressions are that they are very favorable to the human body, that is also an observation on probable interaction with a healthy adult."

6.23 Should lactating women drink Kombucha Tea?

Since lactating mothers pass on substances through the breast milk to their infants, most people feel that it would be a good idea to wait until the child is finished breast-feeding before starting to drink Kombucha Tea. However, whether or not to drink Kombucha while breast-feeding, has to remain a personal decision for the mother to make. Remember, that the caffeine is not used by the colony while fermenting, and remains in the finished Kombucha Tea.

6.24 Is flatulence common when starting to drink Kombucha Tea?

Some new Kombucha drinkers experience intestinal gas. It generally lasts a week or so then stops. However, you can reduce the amount of tea you consume, to help relieve the problem.

6.25 Can I dilute the Kombucha Tea if I find it too strong tasting?

If you notice the tea becoming too strong or fermented, dilute it with freshly-brewed tea or add fruit juice to it just before you drink it. Add the juice to the glass, not the container of fermented tea.

6.26 How can I make a warmer micro-climate to ferment my Kombucha Tea when during cool weather?

A very simple inexpensive solution is to place your container in a wooden or cardboard box with a 15 watt light bulb, then cover the whole thing with a cloth to keep in the heat.

6.27 What is acidosis?

Acidosis is excessive acidity of body fluids due to an accumulation of acids (as in Diabetic acidosis or renal disease) or an excessive loss of bicarbonate (as in Renal disease). The hydrogen ion concentration is increased, and thus the pH is decreased.

Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 1993

6.28 What does pH stand for?

pH stands for potential of Hydrogen.

The acidity and alkalinity of a substance is referred to as its pH value. A neutral substance has a pH of 7, a substance with a pH above 7 is considered alkaline and a substance with a pH below 7 is considered acid. The term acidosis is used to describe a state of excess acidity in the body fluids whereby the term alkalosis describes a state of excess alkalinity.

6.29 Does length of brewing time effect the benefit?

A person posted over the Kombucha list, that whenever fermentation went much over 10-11 days, Kombucha Tea seemed to not have the same positive benefits for them , which usually resulted in headaches. This person said "he supposed that with colder climates and slower fermentation it could go a little longer, perhaps 7-10 days seemed like ideal--then stick it in the refrigerator to slow fermentation way down."

6.30 What do other health departments have to say about Kombucha Tea?

The "German FDA" states, "Kombucha is a vitalizing and completely harmless beverage. Especially in health shops, the Asian tea mushroom "Kombucha" is praised as a universal panacea. But are there some hidden negative side effects involved as well? Prof. Dr. F. Staib (Robert-Koch-Institute of the German Public Health Department*) answers this question of a worried doctor: "Kombucha" consists of a jelly-like substance which develops from a sort of a symbiosis of fermenting yeasts and acetic acid bacteria in sugared black tea. The resulting products are alcohol, carbonic acid and variousorganic acids, which can be enjoyed as a vitalizing beverage known in known in Russia as 'tea-kwass'. No harmful effects on health have been discovered so far. And what is more, such effects are highly unlikely due to natural preservation substances which also develop during the short fermentation process."; *). The German Health Department is the corresponding organization to the American FDA. Translated by Günther Frank from Hessische Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung Nr. 24, June 14, 1992, page 24.

6.31 How does the Kombucha colony protect itself?

According to Russian reports no special precautionary measures are needed because the Kombucha protects itself against impurities. Some of these protective features include the organic acids, low alcohol content, and carbonic acid. These all jointly block the development of all foreign microörganisms not belonging to the Kombucha. The Russian researcher IN. Konovalow mentions in his report of 1959, "that the intensive growth of the Kombucha colony's yeast and bacteria distinctly suppress the spreading of other yeast and bacterial varieties." Also the Russian Professor G.F. Barbancik (1958) reports of tests which showed that the Kombucha microörganisms are energetically antagonistic to all other microbes.

6.32 Does fermentation time affect the taste of the fermented tea?

Yes. The longer you ferment Kombucha the more acidic (or vinegary tasting) it will become.

6.33 Is there any heparin found in Kombucha Tea?

No. It was previously believed Kombucha ferment contained heparin (a compound found especially in liver that slows the clotting of blood and is used medically), however, according to recent scientific research reported by Michael R. Roussin, Director of the Kombucha Consumer Research Group ™, there is no heparin found in Kombucha.

6.34 Does Kombucha Tea thin the blood?

No. It was thought previously that Kombucha ferment contained heparin (a blood thinner). According to the latest Kombucha research done by Michael Roussin's Kombucha research team, there is no heparin in Kombucha. (See http://www.geocities.com/mikeroussin/)"Mythology".

6.35 Are any components in Kombucha Tea lost during lengthy fermentation times?

Michael R. Roussin, author of the Research Paper "Analyses of Kombucha Ferments: Report on Growers" says : "The common ferment will have everything in balance at around 7 or 8 days, after that you lose many of the benefits to excess oxidation and conversion. When it tastes good, it is good. There are no less than 30 compounds produced by this ferment, and many of those are transitory. You want to drink this ferment when it's drinkable, otherwise several compounds have been fermented out."

6.36 Can one produce Kombucha Tea without using a colony?

Michael Roussin, Director of the Kombucha Consumer Research Group ™ says ". . . the colony brings to the ferment everything it needs to reproduce itself. And fermenting without a colony will breed out some of the symbiotes, and it will also breed in new ones." ". . .I strongly recommend that you introduce a colony to each new ferment you start. It has all of the information necessary to replicate itself, and while some of that information is not necessary, much of it is. The colony is not an effect, it's a purpose."

6.37 What do I do to try to prevent mould growth on my fermenting Kombucha Tea?

It is imperative that you add 10% fermented Kombucha Tea at the start of each new batch to help reduce the risk of mould. This fermented tea that is added to each new batch makes the solution acidic, and moulds tend to not grow well in an acidic solution.

6.38 Will cigarette or tobacco smoke harm the fermenting Kombucha Tea?

It is recommended not to place the Kombucha in a room where smoking takes place because tobacco smoke tends to produce mould on the Kombucha and in the fermenting tea. This happens because this smoke is very alkaline and when it settles on top of the fermenting Kombucha, mould will be able to grow because of the change in pH . Mould will grow under alkaline conditions.

See also:

6.39 Is it necessary to sterilize containers before making Kombucha Tea?

It is a good idea to sterilize your containers before using, but practically speaking this isn't easy to do if you are using plastics, and all glass isn't heat resistant and will crack if water that is too hot is used on them. If your containers are washed in hot soapy water and rinsed very well with hot water, this should be sufficient. Some people add a little bleach to this water, ( 1 tablespoon per gallon of water) but be very careful if you do this because bleach will ruin some plastics and the smell of the bleach be absorbed into the plastic container. Also, if you don't get it all off, it will be very harmful to your Kombucha colony. After washing and rinsing, swishing an ounce or so of distilled white vinegar around in the container will help sanitize them too.

6.40 Can I use metal with my fermenting Kombucha Tea?

Never use metal containers to ferment your Kombucha colony, because the Kombucha Tea is very acidic and could react with the metal and cause some of it to leach into the tea and cause heavy metal poisoning.

6.41 Why do I have to cover my Kombucha Tea during fermentation?

This is done to prevent air-borne contaminants from getting into your fermenting container and contaminating the contents. Never use a solid lid, (the bacteria and yeast are aerobic--need oxygen to survive) use only a tightly woven cloth, disposable unbleached paper coffee filter, unbleached paper toweling or similar material held closely to the edges of the container with a rubber band. This way oxygen can enter the fermenting vessel and carbon dioxide--which is produced during the fermentation process-- can escape back out into the atmosphere.

6.42 Are there any special precautions one should take when making Kombucha Tea?

It is very important to wash your hands well with soap and water before handling the Kombucha colony, so that foreign bacteria and mould won't contaminate your fermenting tea or Kombucha. The use of disposable plastic surgical gloves are recommended. Also be sure to wash all counter-tops, utensils and equipment with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly with boiling or very hot water. Do not place your Kombucha colony onto a porous wooden cutting board which has previously been used to cut up poultry or other meat or animal products. These cutting boards may harbor salmonella and other pathogens which cause food poisoning.

6.43 Has there ever been any official reports of allergy to Kombucha Tea?

No. There have never been any reports of allergic reaction attributed to drinking Kombucha Tea.

6.44 Should I be drinking extra water when drinking Kombucha Tea?

Clark, a former subscriber to the Kombucha list, says: "My only experience so far after about 10 weeks of drinking the K-tea was to become dehydrated after about 5-6 weeks. This manifested itself as constant physical and mental fatigue (my chiropractor aptly described it as brain fog) and finally my lips became dry and cracked. After my chiropractor defined the problem to me ( I had no idea what was wrong ) I started drinking a minimum of two quarts of oat water ( at his suggestion ) a day in addition to all other beverages. Oat water is 2 tablespoons oatmeal in a quart of water left overnight in the refrigerator. The brain fog left in two days, it took a full two weeks for my lips to re-hydrate. I stopped the tea for a week and a half, resumed about two weeks ago. I read it over and over--all the experts cautioned about drinking sufficient water but I didn't listen well enough. If you drink the tea, drink the water."

6.45 Does Kombucha Tea act as a diuretic?

Kombucha has been known to have a mild diuretic effect on some people.

6.46 How long does the k-tea have to ferment to use up all the sugar?

A colony usually has to ferment for about 3 weeks in order to consume most of the sugar. (depending upon how much sugar was added at the start of fermentation.)

6.47 When the recipe calls for one cup, what size cup does that mean?

A standard measuring cup used in recipes is based on 8 fluid ounces = 1 cup. An alternative metric measure would be 8 ounces = 250ml. An alternative would be to weigh sugar etc., in that case, 8 ounces would equal 226.80 grams.

6.48 If the Kombucha Tea went bad, how could I tell?

One way to tell is to look for any mould growing on the surface. Mould usually grows in circular patches, and could be white, gray, green, black etc., and usually hairy. If you see mould, throw it all out, don't try to salvage any of it because the mould could have infiltrated the colony and will show up again in your next batch of Kombucha Tea. Throw it out if it smells bad too. The bad smell could indicate a foreign bacteria growing in it.

See also:

6.49 Can Kombucha Tea cause poisoning and allergic reactions?

Nothing has been substantiated on any poisoning by Kombucha Tea. Allergic reactions are rare, however, not impossible, since Kombucha is a food.

6.50 Is low pH needed to stop pathogenic bacteria from contaminating the colony?

Yes. It is important to add enough of the fermented k-tea to bring the initial pH down below 4. Adding 1 1/2 cups of previously fermented Kombucha will help to acidify the solution right from the start. If you don't have any fermented Kombucha to add, then add about 3 tablespoons of distilled vinegar for the first batch only. After that save enough fermented Kombucha to add to the next batch.


This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is based, in part, on the personal experiences of the members of the Kombucha mailing list. It should not be regarded as a complete or definitive manual on Kombucha but rather as a collection of practical everyday answers to questions that come up when starting to make Kombucha Tea. This article is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, the authors/contributors assume no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

Permission is granted to freely copy this document in electronic form, or in print if the publication is distributed without charge, provided it is copied in its entirety without modification and appropriate credits are included. On the WWW, however, you must link here rather than copy it. Any other use requires explicit permission by the author.




Designed Colleen M. Allen

Copyright 1996 - 2000 Colleen M. Allen  

Maintained by: Bob Williams [E-MAIL]
UpDt: 12/17/2000