Kombucha Benefits and Side Effects

by John Griffith

Kombucha or also known as the “tea of immortality” has come a long way from its reported beginning. Found in China more than 2,000 years ago, kombucha is a fermented food, much like cultured yogurt, cheese, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Civilizations throughout history all over the globe believe this superfood can boost immunity, aid digestion, help metabolism, keep cancer at bay and more. Kombucha, like many over foods such as spirulina, have been gaining more and more popularity thanks to their amazing ingredients. The live microorganisms and yeast in the drink are what make it so special. So, let’s take a dive into what kombucha really is and what it does for us. Check out our ultimate guide on kombucha benefits, side effects, and what it is.

The “tea of immortality” aka kombucha

can you drink kombucha everyday kombucha

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented drink from tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. It is usually a yellow-orange color and has a sweet-and-sour, tangy flavor. Although it’s sometimes referred to as mushroom tea, kombucha is not a mushroom. It’s a colony of bacteria and yeast. Simply put, kombucha is a fermented drink made by adding the colony to a mixture of black or green tea and sugar and allowing it to ferment. The resulting liquid contains a number of chemical compounds.

Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented drink from tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast

selective focus of jar with kombucha near bottle on grey napkin

The colony is a “scoby”, which can also be found in sourdough starters. This means symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. Over the course of a few weeks to a month or more, the bacteria and yeasts in the scoby break down the sugar into ethanol, acetic acid and friendly probiotic bacteria. The acetic acid is responsible for kombucha’s distinctive sour taste. The drink becomes carbonated after the fermentation process. Eventually, the mixture becomes what we know as kombucha. It contains organic acids, probiotics, antioxidants, B vitamins, small traces of alcohol, and more.

It was first brewed in China and then spread to Japan and Russia. Furthermore, it became popular in Europe in the early 20th century. Now it is also gaining popularity in the USA as well.

SCOBY means symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts

raw kombucha benefits homemade kombucha

Is Kombucha Caffeinated?

While you may not expect it, Kombucha actually does have some caffeine in it. However, this is not because of the kombucha itself, but rather the teal leaves used to make it. Black, green, white, and oolong leaves all naturally contain caffeine.  And while you can find some traces of caffeine in kombucha, they are extremely minimal, averaging around 15 mg per serving. This amount would be barely noticeable even to those who are sensitive towards coffee and caffeine.

There is caffeine in kombucha 

kombucha bacteria coffee beans

How Often Should You Drink Kombucha?

You can consume 4 ounces of Kombucha up to three times a day. However, when it comes to home-brewed tea, it’s best to avoid drinking more than 16 ounces of Kombucha per day. Keep in mind, drinking too much will lead to the risk of taking in too much sugar, caffeine, and probiotics. Kombucha is also not advised for pregnant or breastfeeding women, those who have a compromised immune system, or those with a histamine intolerance. In some cases, drinking too much can lead to unpleasant side effects.

Kombucha is also not advised for pregnant or breastfeeding women

what probiotics are in kombucha kombucha in a jar and glass

Kombucha Health Benefits

Some of kombucha’s health benefits are similar to those of other fermented foods, however, it also has other specific bioactive compounds unique only to kombucha. Unfortunately, there have only been a handful of studies that have looked at the kombucha benefits, and only one has ever analyzed its impact in people. Nonetheless, early research does suggest many potential health benefits, and avid drinker swear by them. Today we are going to take a look at some of them.

Kombucha’s health benefits are similar to those of other fermented foods

can kombucha help stomach pain brewing kombucha tea


Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your body from “free radical” damage to your cells. Free radicals are a normal processes in the body, but the key is minimizing their impact is by consuming foods and drinks rich in antioxidants. This damage happens naturally over time, and can differ based on the result of certain lifestyles. Kombucha, especially when made with green tea, appears to have great antioxidant effects on the liver. Green tea is rich in a group of antioxidants called polyphenols, especially catechins.

Probiotics and Gut Health

One of the main benefits people turn to kombucha is for its richness in probiotics and their ability to aid in gut health. Probiotics are amazing as they fill our gut with bacteria that is good for us. This bacteria is crucial both to humans and animals. Benefits from taking such probiotic bacteria can aid with weight loss, help with digestion and improve inflammation. Keep in mind that how many probiotic microorganisms are in fermented foods are different. It depends on how long it has been fermenting and what it’s made of. Overall, the live organisms in fermented foods are great for balancing out the bacteria levels found in the gut.

Kombucha is rich in probiotics and aids gut health

is kombucha good for you git health

Reduces Inflammation

The antioxidants in kombucha also help aid in reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation is in just about every health condition. This includes heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, and respiratory illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. While kombucha isn’t a first-line choice for treating any chronic disease, the drink may complement a healthy diet and lifestyle choices, as well as medication regimen.

Boost Metabolism

Since kombucha helps the gut so much, it may aid in boosting the metabolism, just like pineapple. While it’s is not a miricle drink that will help you magically lose weight, however thanks to something called EGCG that is found in green tea it may help achieve a faster metabolism. Regularly drinking green tea should be able to help you burn more calories, and consequently help with blood sugar control, cholesterol levels and reduce fat in the stomach.

Drinking green tea regularly can increase the number of calories you burn

kombucha dangers woman working out

Helps Prevent Cancer

Growing evidence suggests that kombucha may assist with the prevention of certain types of cancer, although more research is needed.  Once again, this is thanks to the antioxidant properties of kombucha. The antioxidants rid the body of free radicals, as well as other harmful substances that promote the growth of cancerous cells. The compounds in kombucha that may help inhibit cancer growth include polyphenols, gluconic acid, glucuronic acid, lactic acid, and vitamin C. Most of these studies were down in test-tubes. Further studies are needed.

Fights Heart Disease

Research done with animals shows that komucha is amazing when it comes to lowering the levels of bad cholesterol and helps to increase the better type of cholesterol. Since cholesterol is linked with heart disease, finding ways to fight it is needed. On the bright side, green tea also helps with the good cholesterol since it protects the particals from oxidation.

Kombucha lowers levels of LDL – “bad” cholesterol 

is kombucha caffeinated heart baloons

Improves Mental Health

Drinks rich in probiotics such as kombucha may actually have a good impact on mental health. This is thought since some studies have shown a link between depressive episodes and probiotics. Also, research has shown that inflammation and depression are tightly connected. This means that kombucha’s anti-inflammatory benefits may help alleviate some of the depression symptoms.

Immunity Booster

Since the immune and digestive system are so dependant on eachother, it’s logical that kombuchas gut benefits will benefit our immune systems. The intestine linings make antibodies which protect our bodies. The gut is where a big part of our immune system is essentially found. So, good gut health means good immune system. The good fermentation bacteria found in kombucha can help with this.

Kombucha is great for boosting immunity

is kombucha good for weight loss woman with hands wide open

Helps Manage Diabetes

There is some evidence that suggests that kombucha may be useful when it comes to help get type 2 diabetes under control. For now all studies on this topic have been through animals, so more research is needed. But do keep in mind that some teas come with many added sugars, which will contradict this benefit. If the kombucha is mixed with green tea and less sugar is used, it’s thought to be with greater benefits. Plus green tea is famous with it’s use of lowering blood sugar levels.

Kills Bacteria

The acetic acid that is produced during kombucha’s fermentation process is also found in vinegar. This acid, alongside the polyphenols found in tea, is amazing when it comes to getting rid of any bad bacteria and microorganisms in the body. Search for kombucha that is mixed with green or black tea. This type of kombucha has some of the strongest antibacterial properties.

Minerals and Vitamins

You can find some smaller quantaties of minerals and vitamins in kombucha. These benefits occur when the yeast manages to break the sugar down. The tea is full of vitamin B’s and C. Not only that but also many organic acids. This includes D-Saccharic, acetic and glucuronic acids. However, how many mineral and vitamin benefits depends very much so on the product.

There are many vitamins and minerals in kombucha tea

how often should you drink kombucha vitamins

Kombucha Side Effects

While kombucha comes with many benefits, just like many super foods, such as sea moss, it does come with some side effects.

There are some side effects to be aware off 

selective focus of jar with kombucha near bottle on grey napkin

Like many products, kombucha should be avoided by people who have a compromised immune system, women who are breastfeeding or pregnantm and people who have problems with histamine. More research is needed to ensure it’s truly safe.

Not only that, but even if you do not fall into these categories, here are some side effects, kombucha may lead to. This includes:

  • dizziness
  • stomach aches
  • nausea

Also keep in mind that if you are making kombucha at home, it’s important you do not prolong fermentation. This is good to know as the longer it ferments, the more organic acids are created. They might get to harmful levels.

Dizziness is a side effect

woman suffering from dizziness with difficulty standing up while leaning on wall

John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.