Does Kombucha Have Caffeine? Nutritionists Explain
Most often made from a base of green or black tea, kombucha offers health benefits that include improved gut health thanks to probiotics and a good dose of antioxidants thanks to the teas it's made from. The fermentation process also means that your glass of kombucha will have a touch of alcohol—"typical amounts of alcohol in kombucha are around 0.5%, with 3% as the highest amount if it's home-brewed," explained Isabel Smith, R.D., CDN—but what about caffeine? Here we get to the bottom of it.
Does kombucha have caffeine?
"Fermented tea has been consumed in China since 5,000 years ago," Ella Davar, R.D., CDN, told mindbodygreen. And because kombucha starts with a tea base, there will likely be some caffeine in the final product—but there are a few factors that can affect just how much.
"Unflavored kombucha generally contains a small amount of caffeine per 8 ounces," says Davar—but not all kombucha is left unflavored, nor is it all processed the same exact way, which can affect the final caffeine and nutrient profile. "That's why the manufacturing technology, its microbiota, byproducts, and physicochemical properties are important facts to consider," she says.
Most importantly, your fizzy drink will not have as much caffeine as the tea it was started with does. The fermentation process will take some of the caffeine with it as it goes, leaving most kombucha with less caffeine than your average cup of decaf coffee.
People who are particularly sensitive to caffeine or who have cut out caffeine entirely may notice the small amounts, but if you're used to having a daily cup of coffee (or two), the low caffeine level in kombucha likely won't be noticeable.
How kombucha may be energizing.
Just because it doesn't have caffeine, however, doesn't mean kombucha won't give you a bit of an energy boost. First and foremost, kombucha does have some sugar content. While it's mostly consumed in the fermentation process, there will be some sugar left over that will give you some energy.
Another component that may influence your energy levels when drinking kombucha is the other micronutrients present. "Kombucha has antioxidant potential and free radical scavenging ability, which in turn ameliorates the damage induced by oxidative stress," explained Davar, "This detoxing property of kombucha in addition to its contribution to a healthy gut microbiome can potentially affect energy levels in healthy individuals."
The bottom line.
Your favorite kombucha probably does have some caffeine in it, but not enough to worry about unless you're particularly sensitive to caffeine content. Other factors, however, may mean that your favorite fermented tea may lead to increased energy over time—which is probably preferable to caffeine anyway.
Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.