Is Kombucha Paleo? The Quick Guide – Grow Your Pantry

Is Kombucha Paleo? The Quick Guide

by Susan Grey on November 20, 2019
is_kombucha_paleo
Commercially produced kombucha is probably not paleo. There are varieties of kombucha that are 100% paleo, leaving a large grey area. It's hard to give a definitive answer as much debate exists. Kombucha tea is brewed with sugar. Although our hunter-gatherer ancestors could have conceivably brewed kombucha it's argued that how it is now produced is not paleo - we'll breakdown the arguments in this article. 

 

What Is Paleo?

Paleo is a strict diet that tries to mimic what cavemen ate. By only eating foods that were available for humans before industrialized farming. Examples would be meat, fruits, eggs, nuts, and certain oils. There is no specific ratio that you must eat these foods in. It's thought that our ancestors would have had lower levels of lifestyle related disease, obesity, and dietary related health issues. 
 Many foods that are currently available in grocery stores would be restricted on a diet, such as sugary soft drinks, deep fried foods, most grains, beans, and vegetable oils. These foods would not have been available to hunter-gatherers. 
 There are a lot of variations available within this diet, with some people eating grass-fed butter, full-fat milk, and rice. 

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a sweet, slightly fizzy, fermented tea drink. Thought to have originated over 2000 years ago in China, it has become a lot more mainstream in the past 15 years. It is becoming available to buy in most grocery stores and corner shops. After enjoying kombucha many want to learn how to make it, infuse with flavors and brew their blend, leading to the popularity of kombucha kits and homebrewing.

 

Is It Ok To Drink Kombucha If You're Paleo?

After researching all of the popular brands, very few had information regarding whether or not kombucha would be considered paleo. We've compiled a table to show you what we have found. 
One factor seems to be the ingredients listed as not all kombucha brands list sugar on their ingredient list. This is determined as to whether or not sugar is added after the brew. 
Kombucha Brand
Are They Paleo?
Brew Dr.
Yes!
GT’s
Unsure - No Information On Website
KeVita
Unsure - No Information On Website

 

Another Perspective

The Paleo Foundation
Most kombucha is made using cane sugar as a primary ingredient. Cane sugar can not be considered paleo; therefore, kombucha can not be paleo certified.

Kombucha Ingredients

Kombucha is made up of 4 main ingredients, which we will review and breakdown. The breakdown shows that there are paleo variations of each ingredient allowing for kombucha to have been brewed in prehistoric times. 
SCOBY 
What Is A SCOBY?
A SCOBY is a Symbiotic Culture Of Yeast And Bacteria. It feeds on sugars causing it to grow and help form new SCOBYs while brewing. A SCOBY plays an essential role in fermenting the batch of tea.
Is A SCOBY Paleo?
Yes, a SCOBY would be considered paleo as it's a fermented clump of strains all mixed that would've been possible to grow in caveman times. Is it likely they grew SCOBYs? Probably not. 
Tea  
What Is Tea?
Tea is the leaves of a plant that have been picked, allowing us to brew them. Often tea varieties will have distinctive flavors and aromas. Popular teas for brewing kombucha include black and green tea.
Is Tea Paleo?
Herbal teas are considered paleo as they would've been around for hunter-gatherers to pick, brew, and enjoy. An example of a variety of tea that is considered paleo is green.
Sugar 
What Is Sugar?
"Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food" - Source Wikipedia. The most common variety to be used to brew kombucha would be cane sugar.
Is Sugar Paleo?
Most sugars are not paleo. As the growing, cultivation and production methods would not have been available thousands of years ago. Examples of sugars which are considered paleo are Coconut sugar and raw honey. Jun Kombucha is an example of fermented tea that is produced using honey.
Water 
Water has been around since the beginning of life. Being essential for life makes is 100% paleo!
How Can You Make Kombucha Paleo?
To be considered paleo, you would need to brew the beverage using either coconut sugar or raw honey. The variety of kombucha that is brewed with honey is called Jun Kombucha. Jun Kombucha requires a specific SCOBY that can convert the honey into energy to feed on. The honey will cause the ferment. 

Conclusion

If you're on a strict paleo diet, it is best suggested that you brew Jun Kombucha at home, as this could be considered the most likely to be paleo compliant. If you're on a less strict diet, you could opt for commercially produced varieties such ad Brew Dr. or regular home brewed kombucha. 

Common Questions

Is Kombucha Whole30 Approved?
Similar to paleo, most commercially produced kombucha is probably not Whole30 approved. This is due to the sugar. If you're following a Whole30 diet and looking to drink kombucha, it would be recommended to brew your batch at home.
Does Kombucha Eat All The Sugar?
When the tea is brewing, the SCOBY will "eat" sugar. A typical brew does not eat all of the sugar, leaving that distinct sweet tea taste. The typical amount of sugar in commercially brewed kombucha is 2-6g per serving. For more information about sugar and kombucha, check out our comprehensive write up. If you leave the kombucha tea to carry on fermenting, it turns into kombucha vinegar, whereby almost all of the sugar has been absorbed.
Is Kombucha Keto Friendly?
Most commercial brands would not be considered keto friendly. This is due to the sugar content within the bottled brew.
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