We’re often asked how can Kombucha tea be healthy when sugar is listed as a main ingredient?
Sugar is listed as the second ingredient after water, much like most high-calorie colas and sodas. However, GO! Kombucha – unlike other commercial Kombucha tea brands who add fruit syrups, purées and othersugars prior to bottling – contains just four ingredients; the absolute basics for making fermented tea. Of the other two, tea leaves and the Kombucha culture can’t technically be measured by their volume alongside the water and sugar as their role is to activate processes – of tea-brewing and fermentation respectively – with both physical ingredients being removed after each process is complete; hence why labeling laws usually require such ingredients to be listed last.
Without sugar there would be no Kombucha tea, at least not as we know it. And sugar is, after all, a feature in over one third of all tea preparations in the UK. Refined or semi-refined sugar is the only food source that the yeasts can digest easily and quickly and the bacteria then convert into the abundance of acids and enzymes that give Kombucha tea its zingy bite and strength – while maintaining just enough sugar in the end brew to appease the sweet toothed. Critically, around half the sugar originally added is broken down in this way, leaving around just 4.5g of sugar per 100ml, as compared to artificially carbonated sodas that can contain up to three times that amount.
only 22 calories per 125ml
Even when bottled the sugar continues to be broken down in a process known as secondary fermentation, or bottle ‘conditioning’; the older the bottle and mature the tea, the likelihood is that the sugar is closer to 4g/100ml. Furthermore, kombucha tea is alkalizing in the body whereas sugar-laden products tend to be acid-forming. And despite sugar’s bad rap it is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – which saturates the modern US food industry – that is the leading cause of America’s’ obesity epidemic. A 2010 Princeton University study found that rats with access to HFSC gained substantially more weight than those consuming an identical caloric intake of table sugar.
What’s important to note are the number of calories per 100ml. A 250ml bottle of GO! Kombucha contains less than 50 calories in total, or only 22 per 125ml, making it one of the lowest-calorie on-the-go drinks available that has not been artificially sweetened. Of course, some will choose to demonize and avoid sugar entirely come what may, including Kombucha tea despite its overwhelming plethora of good stuff. Yet drinking unsweetened Kombucha tea regularly – that is, well-fermented tea with no additional fruit sugars or syrups added prior to bottling – can recalibrate and train your taste buds to crave sweet foods less – and even reject them altogether!