Kombucha Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/03/22 •  10 min read
kombucha benefits and side effects


Kombucha health benefits may include:

Kombucha is…

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Water footprint: likely high, it takes 8,856 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of black tea / 1,061 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of black tea

Carbon footprint: moderate, 2.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of fermented beverages, a car driving equivalent of 5.75 miles or 9.25 kilometers

Destruction: low, kombucha production is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Kombucha (with no added sugar) is…


Kills: none, kombucha production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, kombucha production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from kombucha production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Kombucha (with no added sugar) is…


Health and safety: hazardous, limited access to clean water, lack of sanitation, which create health risks, may lead to disease, many workers and their children are malnourished, low immunity to diseases, dangerous exposure to pesticides leads to loss of appetite, numbness in hands, breathing difficulties, reports of starvation deaths

Living conditions: poor, in India, Kenya, Rwanda, Bangladesh, most workers live on tea plantations in decrepit homes, no working toilets, minimal electricity, child trafficking occurs as a result of low wages, children then become slaves, child labor to help meet worker quotas, oppressive conditions intensified by caste system

Wages: low, men work non-leaf-plucking tasks and earn a nearly double hourly wage compared to women, tea pluckers must look for additional work elsewhere to supplement their incomes

Kombucha has…

Where does most kombucha come from?

The kombucha market in USA is the largest market.

Is kombucha nutritious?

Yes! Kombucha is high in probiotics, antioxidants, tea polyphenols and acetic acid. Be sure to avoid kombucha that has added sugar.

kombucha is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is kombucha gluten free? Yes, kombucha is naturally gluten free.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

kombucha is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is kombucha a common food allergen?

No, kombucha is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to kombucha but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

kombucha is a fermented food.

fermented foods benefit gut health and good bacteria

Is kombucha fermented?

Yes, kombucha is a fermented beverage.

Foods that are fermented use an old process that can extend shelf life, provide healthy probiotics and add nutritional value. One notable nutrient that can be acquired is vitamin B12 -especially desirable for vegans and vegetarians, as it typically cannot be found in plant foods.

Fermented foods help the body digest food, fight off bad bacteria, make certain vitamins, maintain a healthy balance, and restore gut health after taking antibiotics. 

When too many bad gut microbes exist it can create an imbalance between beneficial and harmful gut bacteria, which leads to health problems. In some cases intestinal walls can weaken and their contents may leak into the bloodstream, commonly referred to as leaky gut syndrome. Fermented foods are known to strengthen intestinal walls. 

For optimal gut health and overall wellbeing fermented foods are a great daily addition to your diet. Common fermented foods include: kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt.

Check out this Fermented Foods List to see them all.

Here’s an amazing cookbook filled with delicious fermented recipes: Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes by Christopher Shockey and Kirsten K. Shockey

kombucha has a high water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does kombucha have a high or low water footprint?

Kombucha likely has a relatively high water footprint compared to other foods and beverages.

What is the water footprint of kombucha?

It takes high, 8,856 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of black tea / 1,061 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of black tea, a key ingredient in kombucha.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

kombucha has a moderate carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does kombucha have a high or low carbon footprint?

Kombucha has a relatively moderate carbon footprint compared to other foods and beverages.

What is the carbon footprint of kombucha?

It takes around 2.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of fermented beverages, a car driving equivalent of 5.75 miles or 9.25 kilometers

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

kombucha is moderately sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is kombucha eco friendly? Is kombucha sustainable?

Kombucha production is moderately sustainable due to its potentially high water footprint from tea.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

kombucha is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is kombucha vegan?

Yes, kombucha is vegan. Kombucha is a fermented black or green tea beverage and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

kombucha has labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is kombucha a product with labor concerns?

At this time there are concerns with kombucha production due to its tea ingredient.

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 


100% raw kombucha – FoodData Central

A Review on Kombucha Tea—Microbiology, Composition, Fermentation, Beneficial Effects, Toxicity, and Tea Fungus

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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