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We haven't completed our nutritional testing for our kombucha yet. But what we expect to find when we do is the total amount of sugar in the finished kombucha will be less than 10 grams per 8 oz. serving and the calories will be less than 40 calories per 8 oz. serving. Alcohol content will be less than 0.5%.
The sugar content and calories for our kombucha are on the low side, partially due to the fact that we have worked at reducing the amount of sugar with which we start the fermentation. We also have been working at reducing the amount of residual fructose in the kombucha. Many studies of the kombucha process have noted that when pure sucrose (table sugar) is used, there is a significant amount of fructose that is not metabolized by the SCOBY. Refer to the figure at the right, which gives a frequency distribution of remaining fructose for 17 different kombucha products based on analysis work done by Roussin. The results of his work show that the median value for fructose remaining at the end of kombucha fermentation is about 55%.
One of the first things that happens in the brewing process is that yeast cleave the sucrose molecule into glucose and fructose using the enzyme invertase (we also hasten that process by inverting the sugar when we make the sweet tea). Both the yeast and the bacteria prefer glucose over fructose, and so they work on the glucose first. Once most of the glucose has been metabolized, then they work on fructose, which is harder for them to metabolize. The good news is that fructose is much sweeter, gram for gram, than glucose. But the bad news is that fructose is harder for you and I to metabolize; it is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and almost entirely metabolised by the liver. Under "normal" dietary conditions that metabolism is not a problem. But the high fructose load of many of our contemporary diets has been indicted as one of the problems that has led to increased obesity and liver disease. We think it is a good idea to reduce our contribution to this problem, and so have reduced the amount of fructose in the kombucha we produce. It is a bit of a balancing act, since we don't want to get completely rid of the sweetness that fructose brings, and we think we've hit on a good compromise.
What About All of the Other Health Claims for Kombucha?
If you surf the web and read health blogs and producer web sites about kombucha, you might think that drinking kombucha will solve all of your health and personal problems. I don't know about that. The truth is that there have been few reputable scientific studies that identify all of the fermentation products in kombucha, let alone the health effects of drinking kombucha. Part of the problem is that each SCOBY has a unique population of bacteria and yeast and the fermentation conditions (temperature, fermentation time, sugar concentration, type of tea, etc.) differ from producer to producer. If we don't know exactly what is in the kombucha, it is hard to say with certainty what effects drinking it might have.
Here's a Link to a good article that discusses some of the kombucha myths.
Kombucha is also marketed as a pro-biotic, since it contains a live population of acetic-acid bacteria. While many people believe that consuming fermented foods is important for maintaining a healthy population of gut bacteria, it isn't clear that the live bacteria in fermented foods can make it past the low-pH environment of our stomach (which is designed to kill foreign bacteria) into our colon.
Our position on the health claims of kombucha is: