Can You Drink Kombucha While Pregnant?
Kombucha and Pregnancy
If you love kombucha, you may wonder if it’s safe to drink when you’re pregnant. Drinking kombucha while pregnant isn’t a cut and dry issue. Let’s first talk about what kombucha is.
Just like any fermented beverage, kombucha contains yeast, certain bacteria and sugar to feed those organisms so they can develop colonies of live and active cultures. The fermentation process gives the tea base a slightly effervescent, vinegary flavor so unique to kombucha. Depending on the brand of kombucha you choose, the flavors of kombucha can be made from fruits, fruit juices, herbs and botanicals, spices, additional sweeteners and some artificial ingredients.
Of course, at Brew Dr., our kombucha never adds any artificial ingredients, sweeteners to our proprietary teas beyond the fermentation process, juices or concentrates. All of our flavors come directly from the actual fruits, herbs, botanicals and spices that we include in the brew during the fermentation process.
The Good and The Bad Bacteria
We closely monitor our fermentation process to make sure the product is safe. By doing so, we can keep the temperature of our brews at just the right level to keep the good bacteria alive and well. This keeps our kombucha “raw,” the way traditional kombucha was meant to be. Raw kombucha contains all of the live and active cultures that are formed during the fermentation process. While this is the preferred method of brewing, it does result in an “unpasteurized” product which many doctors advise their pregnant patients to avoid.
Related: Kombucha 101
One of the biggest issues with drinking kombucha while pregnant is with harmful bacteria that can be introduced during the fermentation process. Most commercial kombucha manufacturers adhere to strict sterilization, sanitation and brewing practices to eliminate the risk for contaminating brews with bad bacteria.
Homemade kombuchas, on the other hand, are made in home kitchens. As we all know, kitchens can harbor more germs than anywhere else in the home and if the home brewer isn’t extremely diligent in cleaning the kitchen, every tool used and themselves, as well as keeping the brew temperature at precise levels during fermentation, that bad bacteria can easily make its way into the brew.
What About The Alcohol?
This isn’t the only reason drinking kombucha while pregnant can be an issue. The fermentation process naturally produces alcohol. In order for commercial kombuchas to be sold in retail establishments, it must contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol (a can of light beer has around 4.2 percent and a can of non-alcoholic beer has 0.5 percent, by comparison). While 0.5 percent alcohol is generally considered safe for pregnant women, most doctors still advise their patients to avoid any and all alcohol while pregnant to be safe. It is still unknown if even this small amount has any impact on the developing fetus.
The main issue, again, arises with homebrews. They type of yeast used, the length of time for fermentation and the process they use can increase the alcohol content considerably. Many home brewers, for instance, want to decrease sugar and increase the carbonation in their brews so they conduct a secondary fermentation. This process increases the alcohol content as well to as much as 2 percent.
At Brew Dr., we must adhere to those alcohol regulations and, therefore, leverage technology that removes excess alcohol without the use of heat. We actually distill our kombucha in a relatively complex method you can read more about here. In a nutshell, this process ensures our kombucha has around 0.1 percent alcohol, much less than the required 0.5 percent, and it still contains all of the naturally-occurring live and active cultures.
Does Kombucha Contain Caffeine?
Finally, kombucha does contain a small amount of caffeine because it is a tea beverage. Of course, the type of tea leaves used will dictate how much caffeine is in the product. Caffeine Content says the brewing process changes the amount of caffeine as well, but for reference:
- Black tea contains around 50 mg of caffeine per cup
- Oolong tea contains about 34 mg of caffeine per cup
- Green tea contains 30 mg of caffeine per cup
- White tea contains 15 to 20 mg of caffeine per cup
- A cup of coffee contains between 65 and 150 mg of caffeine per cup
If caffeine is a concern for you and your doctor, be sure to check the type of tea used in the kombucha and read the ingredients label to ensure additional caffeine hasn’t been added.
The Bottom Line
While kombucha may be perfectly safe to drink when you’re pregnant, there are at last a couple of reasons why you may want to take a sabbatical until after you deliver. It’s important for you to discuss your concerns with your doctor before you make any decision. Don’t worry! We’ll save some bottles (or cans!) for you to enjoy post-delivery. In the meantime, congratulations on your new addition and cheers to you being a great mom who does her homework!