Do You Have To Be 21 To Buy Kombucha? Your Quick Guide – Grow Your Pantry

Do You Have To Be 21 To Buy Kombucha? Your Quick Guide

by Susan Grey on October 17, 2019
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In most cases, somebody aged under 21 can buy kombucha. Most commercially produced kombucha is non-alcoholic. Non-alcoholic drinks do not have an age requirement to purchase. There are some varieties of kombucha that can contain higher volumes of alcohol, which would require you to be over 21 to purchase.
Kombucha & Alcohol
 What Is An Alcoholic Drink?
 "Alcoholic drinks contain the chemical ethanol. This form of alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation process, which is the reaction of sugars and yeast. These sugars are sourced from foods rich in starch, such as maize, wheat, molasses, barley and potatoes." Source: DrinkCoach.
 
 Does Kombucha Contain Alcohol?
Yes, kombucha does contain alcohol. Most kombucha labels on kombucha state that they're "non-alcoholic" or contain trace amounts of alcohol. Homebrewed Kombucha contains a higher amount of alcohol.
 During the fermentation process, the yeast eats the sugar-producing more yeast and also alcohol. The quantity of alcohol produced depends on the conditions of the brew and the type of yeast used.
Is Kombucha An Alcoholic Drink?
It could be. Most kombucha brands that are in grocery stores are not alcoholic drinks. However, kombucha brewed at home is likely to be an alcoholic drink.
Legal Definition Of Alcoholic Drinks
Legal definitions of what is and what an alcoholic can be slightly confusing. Countries issue regulations that contain the terms, such as dealcoholized, alcohol-removed, non-alcoholic, and alcohol-free. All have slightly different meanings. This segment looks at the laws in the context of kombucha brewed with low-alcohol production methods.
US FDA Regulation states that for all drinks sold with less than 0.5% ABV contents are classified as non-alcoholic. Therefore brands of kombucha with less than 0.5% ABV are labeled and sold as non-alcoholic. Minors in the USA can purchase kombucha under 0.5% ABV.
The U.K.'s regulations state that for a beverage sold as alcohol-free, it has to contain less than 0.05% ABV. This is very low; fruit juices often will contain more than 0.05% ABV. A low-alcohol ABV would be less than 0.5%.
 Often this can cause confusion for bar and grocery store workers as the legal definitions of non-alcoholic seem surprisingly low. This could mean that depending on the specific brand, it may be sold to minors, and others may not be. In the U.K., a minor (aged under 18) could purchase kombucha under 0.05% alcohol.
The European Union class alcohol-free to be less than 0.5% ABV for beverages. This is the same as the United States' FDA regulations for non-alcoholic classifications. Hence minors can purchase most commercially produced kombucha. Just like the USA, a minor in the European Union can purchase kombucha, which contains less than 0.5% ABV.
Colorado, Kombucha, And Alcohol
In Colorado, they've reviewed the law that put kombucha in the same alcoholic tax bracket as hard liquors such as vodka and gin. "U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, called it a "complete misclassification" to label kombucha as alcohol." - Source: CNN. Members of Congress are pushing for kombucha to be exempt from alcohol taxation for all brews under 1.25% ABV. It has been nicknamed the "Kombucha Act." 
They view kombucha differently from other alcoholic beverages that fall under the higher tax bracket. Citing potential health benefits and also the ingredient used to brew the tea is wholesome.
G.T.'s And Whole Foods Scandal Of 2010
In 2010 Whole Foods removed all kombucha products from their shelves. This was after the Alcohol, And Tobacco Tax And Trade Bureau tested bottles of kombucha in 3 different locations. Their findings were that the alcohol content was between 0.5% to 2.5% ABV. All of the bottles of kombucha were labeled as "non-alcoholic." They broke the 0.5% ABV non-alcoholic FDA regulation Whole Foods removed them from the shelves.
 Can Minors Now Buy Gt's Kombucha?
After kombucha was removed from the shelves of Whole Foods, commercial producers were starting changing their production methods to reduce the ABV. Coming up with a new method of brewing, they returned to the grocery store shelves. 
Kombucha brands that are in the supermarkets almost all have non-alcoholic status, with less than 0.5% ABV. It's thought that the yeast and bacteria used in brewing changed, causing a lower amount of alcohol to be produced. 
Low Alcohol Homebrewed Kombucha
If you're looking to make homebrewed kombucha that has a low ABV, there would be a few options. The first suggestion would be to get an alcohol hydrometer, either digital or manual. This will measure the ABV content for your brew.
Here Are Two Ways To Reduce The ABV Of Your Batch:
 Let The Brew Ferment For Longer - The longer that you leave the brew, the less alcohol content there will be. Alcohol, after it has been produced, will react overtime slowly to produce vinegar. By leaving your brew out longer before you consume, you will get more of a vinegary taste.
 
 Decrease ABV By Mixing - If you test your ABV with a hydrometer and see it's on the high side. You can then mix it with another drink to bring the ABV down. Suitable mixing drinks could include juice or carbonated soft drinks.   
After using these two methods for reducing your ABV, retest your brew if it's still higher than you'd like to keep on repeating the process until you're happy.
Common Questions
Can You Get Drunk Off Kombucha?
Probably not. Because the store brought kombucha is very low in alcohol volume, you would have to drink a very vast quantity of alcohol within a short period. A reporter from Vice News tried to get drunk from drinking kombucha and was unsuccessful. He concluded that the drink was far too mildly alcoholic to have an intoxicating impact.  
How Old Do You Have To Be To Drink Kombucha?
To legally buy non-alcoholic kombucha, you can be any age, as it's a soft drink. To drink kombucha, it isn't recommended for any under 12's due to containing caffeine. According to health experts, caffeinated beverages should not be drunk by anybody under the age of 12. After 12, a child can consume up to 80mg of caffeine per day.
Can You Drive while Drinking Kombucha?
It's common knowledge that if you're driving with a beer in the front seat, you'll be breaking the law. With kombucha, the line is a little more blurry. This is because some kombucha would be classed as containing-alcohol, whereas other varieties of the drink will non-alcoholic how this is likely to be treated in the same way as the FDA has categorized the drink. If the ABV is less than 0.5%, then you're not breaking the law.
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