What Is Hard Kombucha Made Of?

You’ve probably seen it on trendy restaurant menus. Or spotted it in the cooler of your local supermarket. Maybe your friends have been talking about it, or maybe you’re one of those people who have already fallen in love with kombucha.

However, like many things these days, you might not be entirely sure how your new favorite drink is made. If you’ve considered trying hard kombucha, you might be wondering: what is hard kombucha made of?

Read on to dig deeper and learn more.

What Is Hard Kombucha Made Of? The Fermentation Process

You can’t answer the question what is hard kombucha made of without first taking a closer look at the process of making kombucha.

Kombucha is a fermented product, like kefir or kimchi— or, since it’s a drink, like wine or beer. The fermentation process makes kombucha from tea, sugar, and SCOBY (a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.) Like wine and beer, the fermentation process produces some alcohol too. 

Yep, that’s right —This means that after brewing and before bottling, all kombucha is already  “hard kombucha.” The alcohol percentage may not be as high as you find in beverages that are brewed to be alcoholic, but it’s definitely there. The alcohol content will vary depending on the amount of sugar used and the length of ferment.

JORDANHUGHES BDK 06375 1 copy scaled

Removing the Alcohol

Even though the fermentation process typically only results in 1 - 3% Alcohol by Volume (ABV), kombucha must be <0.5% ABV to be sold as non-alcoholic and considered safe for all ages. 

This means kombucha brewers and manufactures need to remove the alcohol from their freshly-brewed kombucha before they can bottle and sell it. 

There are a few ways of doing this, some of which involve high heat. Another gentler, non-heat method uses a technology called a Spinning Cone Column, which is essentially a large centrifuge. Technicians adjust the temperature until ethanol (alcohol) atomizes or becomes a gas. When the machine spins quickly,  the alcohol separates from the rest of the kombucha and voila! You have non-alcoholic kombucha..

This non-heat method of distillation ensures that the liquid is still raw and unpasteurized, preserving all the beneficial live and active cultures naturally produced during fermentation. Now, the final kombucha has about 0.1% ABV and is safe for all ages to enjoy. 

Related: Alcohol in Kombucha: What You Need to Know

So What Makes Hard Kombucha “Hard”? 

A “hard” drink is any beverage that has alcohol in it – whether it’s naturally present or added later. So the question is, what is hard kombucha made of?

Unsurprisingly, the answer begins and ends with fermentation.

As just discussed, in most cases kombucha brewers need to stop the fermentation process and remove the alcohol to make the beverage non-alcoholic, since alcohol is naturally produced by fermentation. For hard kombucha though, brewers simply do the opposite. To produce a hard kombucha, the brewers will add some additional yeast and sugar to the brew. This allows the brew to ferment longer, ultimately increasing the ABV and producing the hard kombucha.

Is Hard Kombucha Healthier?

Most people who choose to drink kombucha are looking for great taste combined with health benefits. The same is true for many people who enjoy hard kombucha.

The alcohol in hard kombucha is much like any other alcohol you would find in beverages like beer or wine. On its own, it’s not inherently healthy, and it can be damaging if you consume excess quantities.

However, just like wine, which has proven health benefits thanks to phytochemicals, hard kombucha is built on a healthy base of fermented tea. So, you still get to enjoy some benefits of fermented foods made with natural ingredients when you drink hard kombucha. 

As with any alcoholic beverage, hard kombucha should be enjoyed in moderation.

Mix your drinks carefully and intersperse alcoholic drinks with water. This will help keep you clear-headed and avoid dehydration, a side effect of alcohol consumption.

If you are unsure how much alcohol is healthy for a person of your age, weight, and health, you can always speak to your doctor. They can give you a good idea of the recommended guidelines.

Does Alcohol Affect the Probiotics in Kombucha?

One of the biggest reasons people choose raw kombucha is its gut-healthy probiotics. Most people now know that healthy bacteria in our gut are critical to our overall health and well-being, and they find creative ways to incorporate probiotics into their diet. 

The bad news is that alcohol and bacteria don’t really mix well. In fact, you’ve probably used alcohol to disinfect something because it tends to kill bacteria.

Unfortunately, the alcohol doesn’t know the difference between good bacteria and bad, so it will neutralize the good bacteria and probiotics in your kombucha.

The stronger the alcohol you add to your kombucha, the more it will affect the probiotic bacteria in the drink. So, while you still get all the benefits of drinking a fermented product made from real, natural ingredients, you might not get as much of a probiotic boost as you usually do.

Related: Kombucha vs Probiotic Supplements: Which Is Better?

Flavored Hard Kombucha

One thing that sets kombucha apart from other beverages is its unique flavor profiles.

Many kombucha manufacturers add a variety of delicious ingredients such as fruit, herbs, and spices to their beverages during the manufacturing process. But did you know you can blend in your own tasty ingredients too?

Simply crush or “muddle” your choice of fruit, herbs, and spices together. You can use a cocktail shaker with a strainer or use a glass and the back of a wooden spoon, straining the liquid through a sieve. Mix it into plain or flavored kombucha to add more depth to the flavor. Experiment with different flavor profiles and get creative. Cheers!

JRD09840 1
JRD09840 1

How to Enjoy Hard Kombucha

If you are interested in trying hard kombucha, there are several ways to try it at home: 

  • Look for hard kombucha products at your local grocery or convenience store.. There are only a handful on the market. You need to be careful about quality, but you might find a brand you like.
  • Use naturally flavored kombucha as a mixer with your favorite liquor. It’s great with vodka or whisky and ice  — and even a little honey if you like a sweeter drink.
  • Use kombucha in your favorite cocktail recipe instead of the juice you’d normally use. Kombucha margaritas or pina coladas, anyone? 
  • If you’re having a party with a few friends, try making a hard kombucha punch. Simply substitute the lemonade or ginger ale you’d usually use in your favorite punch recipe, add fruit and liquor, and enjoy with ice.
  • Make frozen kombucha daiquiris with rum and frozen fruit. Blend, pour into a glass, add an umbrella and enjoy a tart, unique, interesting, and fun frozen drink!

Great for Parties

Now that you know what hard kombucha is made of and how to make your own kombucha cocktails, you might want to try it at your next party.

Since kombucha is such a popular drink these days, this is a great way to give your guests something new and unique to sip on. Those who have already tried and love kombucha will be very happy to see it on the cocktail menu, and you may be able to convert some new fans of kombucha too!

You can also offer both hard and soft versions of kombucha, so your guests can alternate between the two or choose the one they prefer. Whatever you choose, it is  sure to be a conversation starter — You know your party will be off to a good start!

A Truly Versatile Beverage

One of the best things about kombucha is that it’s extremely versatile.

It’s perfect if you’re trying to get healthy and are looking for something to support your gut health, and it’s fantastic used as an ingredient in a smoothie, or as a cold drink during a walk or hike.

It’s also perfect with some alcohol added, during happy hour or while entertaining guests.

Kombucha can even be used in cooking, much like some people use wine or beer, and it tastes great in everything from dressings and marinades to baking and dessert syrups.

A Variety of Kombucha Options

Now we know how versatile kombucha is. Are you looking for hard kombucha to take your party to the next level? Or would you rather go for the probiotic-rich version? You can find a wide range of offerings from Brew Dr. Kombucha, with a variety of flavors to suit any taste. Browse them all on our website or find a bottle near you today!

Flavor landscape