The word “organic” is thrown around around the health food and kombucha community often. But very few people, including myself for a long time, actually understand what "organic kombucha" even means.
Organic kombucha is made 95% or more of ingredients that have been certified, according to federal guidelines, to be grown or processed as naturally as possible. This means the kombucha is made without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetically modifying processes.
There’s still a lot of confusion around the word “organic” and how it relates to kombucha and your health, so I went and learned all I could to share it with you! Let’s start with the basics.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a carbonated and flavored probiotic drink made from fermented tea that has become quite popular in recent years due to its great taste and many health benefits such as improved digestion and gut health, detoxification, and immune system strengthening.
How Kombucha is Made
All kombucha begins as sweet tea. What turns this sweet tea into sweet and sour probiotic kombucha is a living culture of bacteria. This culture of bacteria, known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), eats the sugar and caffeine from the sweet tea and produces acids, carbon dioxide, and alcohol.
Once it has eaten enough sugar to make the kombucha bitter tasting, the SCOBY is removed and the 1st fermentation is complete. At this point the kombucha can be drunk, but it's not carbonated or flavored yet.
The carbonation and flavor is added in a 2nd fermentation. During this stage, the kombucha is sealed in glass fermenting bottles that are filled with fruit, juice, or herbs for flavoring.
Over the course of a few days, the kombucha in the bottles develops carbonation and flavor. It’s then refrigerated and ready to be drunk!
What does Organic Mean?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):
“USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.”
So basically, in order to be considered organic, a product must be certified to have been made from natural ingredients, without any pesticides or additives that go against the federal guidelines.
However, a product only has to have 95% or more of it’s contents fit these guidelines to be considered “Certified Organic.” Although the remaining 5% of ingredients and additives still have to be on a separate pre approved list.
For a product to be considered “100% Organic” it has to be, you guessed it, made of 100% organic ingredients that abide by the USDA guidelines.
Companies can’t just slap an organic label on any product they want. The product and the process they use to make their product must be approved by a third party to be within the federal guidelines. If a company violates this process and says something is organic when it really isn’t, they can receive fines of up to $17,952 per violation.
What is Organic Kombucha?
For kombucha to be considered organic it must follow the same rules as all other food: be made of at least 95% organic ingredients. This means that the tea and sugar used to brew it and the juice and herbs used to flavor it come from farms that do not use unapproved pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetically engineered foods.
Because kombucha is made from only a few ingredients, most kombucha you buy will be organic.
If a booch is certified organic, it will use organic tea, organic sugar, an organic SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) and organic fruits or cold pressed juices or natural herbs and roots for flavoring.
Health Benefits of Organic Kombucha
Common sense tells us that eating or drinking foods that are made naturally and without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides would be healthier, and it usually is! But what exactly are the health benefits to drinking organic kombucha?
Well on top of the benefits of the kombucha alone, such as improved digestive function, lower risk of diarrhea, improved mental health, weight loss, and boosted immune system, drinking organic kombucha may:
Reduce intake of pesticides and chemical additives
Reduce intake of antibiotic resistant bacteria
Increase intake of nutrients such as Vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus
Increase intake of healthy fats
Increase intake of antioxidants
None of these benefits are guaranteed in every brand or brew of kombucha, but should give you an idea of why so many people prefer drinking organic kombucha over regular.
Below is a table showing you what kombucha brands are organic and which ones arn't. As you can see, most kombucha brands, especially the popular ones, are organic.
Which Popular Kombucha Brands are Organic Vs. Not Organic
If you’d like to check out any of the organic kombuchas above, you can find them in bulk or variety packs on Amazon for a great price and with free shipping or Amazon Prime if you have it. Just click on your choice below.
Kombucha is a health focused drink, and since organic foods are generally healthier than nonorganic foods, most people who drink booch will want it to be organic.
Organic kombucha isn’t a magical cure to all your ailments, but at least you know that what you’re drinking is made from natural ingredients and without poisonous pesticides and additives. I’ll still drink kombuchas that aren't organic on occasion, but they’re definitely not my first choice.
If you want to learn more about kombucha, how it relates to your health, and even how to brew it yourself, check out the rest of my website!