The short answer? It depends entirely on how it’s made.
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that’s made its way into the hearts and refrigerators of people worldwide because of its purported health benefits from the healthy organisms created by the fermentation process that produce the drink.
Kombucha is known to have a small amount of alcohol in it. But is there any caffeine in it?
According to the website Caffeine Informer, about one-third of the original caffeine content of the tea that’s used may remain after a typical fermentation time.
This means, for example, that an 8-ounce serving of kombucha made from a green tea steeped to full strength and containing about 30 milligrams (mg) of caffeine will likely contain about 10 mg of caffeine.
It’s not always easy to know just how much caffeine is in kombucha. As we discuss below, many factors influence just how much is in a single serving of kombucha.
How hard is it to know if kombucha has caffeine or not?
Estimation is hard to accomplish if you’re buying a premade kombucha from the grocery store. Most manufacturers include the amount of caffeine per serving on the bottle. But not all of them do.
Small, local kombucha producers that serve their products at farmers markets may not be able to estimate the amount of caffeine with the same precision as large-scale corporations with industrial-grade tools. So, it’s hard to know just how much caffeine is in the bottle.
The long answer? It depends on the caffeine content of the brewed tea — and not all green and black tea varieties have the same amount of caffeine.
In general, most of these types of teas have much less caffeine than the amount that’s in a typical cup of coffee — that is, about 25 to 30 mg in a cup of tea to 75 to 80 mg in coffee. But this amount also depends on other factors, including:
- How long you steeped the tea in hot liquid. More caffeine content seeps into the water the longer you keep the teabag or leaves in the hot water.
- How long the kombucha ferments. Natural processes from the bacteria colonization break down the caffeine that’s in the tea and ultimately reduce the amount of caffeine that’s in the final product.
- How much caffeine has been added to the kombucha blend. Some kombucha you buy at the store contains ingredients with natural caffeine content or has had caffeine added to it. Look closely at the ingredients list, and check for any indications of how much caffeine content is in the product, usually measured in milligrams.
Kombucha starts with a mixture of:
- tea of your choice, preferably black or green tea
- particular strains of yeast and bacteria
Then, you let the mixture sit at room temperature for a number of weeks to let the yeast and bacteria
- carbon dioxide
- acetic acid
A mushroom-like layer grows at the surface of the mixture. It’s called a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).
If you’re concerned about reducing the amount of caffeine in your kombucha — especially if you drink kombucha regularly (it is pretty delicious!) — here are some tips for reducing your caffeine consumption while keeping up your kombucha habit.
Choose teas with less caffeine
If you’re making your own kombucha, look closely at how much caffeine is in the tea you’re using to create the base. Decaffeinated teas are available.
If you’re looking to reduce your caffeine intake but still want a little caffeine kick, choose teas that have anywhere from 40 to 60 mg of caffeine.
When choosing a decaf tea, look for those that have been processed with carbon dioxide or water, which won’t interfere with the fermentation process.
Find a steeping time that works for you
Steeping time is key to both the flavor and caffeine content of a black or green tea. Reduce the steeping time if you want to reduce caffeine content. Typically, you want to steep tea for about 5 to 10 minutes for a balance of flavor and caffeine content.
The heat of the water initially used to steep the tea can also affect how quickly the tea compounds seep into the water. So, you may want to let the water cool a bit before you steep so that less caffeine gets into the mixture.
Look for the listed caffeine content on every bottle
Every kombucha manufacturer labels their bottles differently, so you may have to look for caffeine content in several different places.
Most of the big kombucha producers, such as GT or Health-Ade, list caffeine on their bottle labels, although it may be hard to find depending on the label’s design.
In most cases, caffeine is listed opposite the front of the label, where the name of the company, product, and flavors are listed.
Look at the other ingredients used in the kombucha mixture
Added sugars, natural and artificial flavorings, and additional fermented ingredients like apple cider vinegar can affect the caffeine concentration. Nicotine
Reduce your serving size
Caffeine concentrations vary among kombucha varieties. If you’re concerned about the amount in your kombucha, be sure to read the bottle label to get a sense off the caffeine content and other ingredients that can affect the concentration.
Drinking less than a one 8-ounce serving or opting for kombucha made with decaffeinated teas can also ensure you consume less caffeine.
Now, it’s time to drink! But not too much.