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Can Kids Drink Kombucha? Experts Don’t Love The Thought

It contains caffeine and trace amounts of alcohol.

When you become a parent, you let go of many small luxuries: pooping without an audience, listening to regular music in the car, and having a snack or drink without grabby little hands reaching in for their share. So if your kid samples your kombucha and likes it, it’s natural to wonder, if kids can drink kombucha. Whether your kid is notorious for stealing a sip of whatever drink you have sitting around, or they love kombucha and could finish their own bottle in no time, experts agree that it’s not an ideal beverage for young kids.

Can kids drink kombucha?

Kombucha is a lightly bubbly drink made with sugar and tea (usually black tea), and fermented with bacteria and yeast. The thing about fermentation is that it takes carbohydrates, like sugar, and breaks them down into alcohol. So, while kombucha is technically a non-alcoholic beverage, there could be trace amounts of alcohol in the drink.

“Since kombucha is a fermented drink made from tea, sugar, and yeast, it is usually marketed as a non-alcoholic beverage. Products must contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume, to be classified as non-alcoholic products,” says Dr. Dorota Szczepaniak, M.D., pediatrician at Seattle Children’s.

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While the amount of alcohol in a store-bought kombucha is going to be really low, experts caution that we just don’t know how that will affect kids, says Lindsey Donovan, MS, RDN, a pediatric clinical dietitian at Wolfson Children’s Hospital of Jacksonville. She advises parents not to give kids kombucha, in part because of the alcohol. “It is smaller amounts, but there’s really not any research or much research at all in pediatrics and kombucha,” she says.

If you make your own kombucha at home or your child has access to it at a friend’s house, it’s probably not safe for your kid to partake. When it’s homemade, it’s very hard to guess how much alcohol is actually in the beverage. “Prior studies have found that kombucha beverages can become very acidic and may contain levels of alcohol up to around 2.5%, which can be a potential health risk to children and a developing pregnancy,” says Szczepaniak. She says to keep homemade kombucha away from any kids under the age of 16.

Homemade kombuchas aren’t pasteurized either, Donovan points out, which puts children who drink it at risk for infection, “especially those who may have a compromised immune system.” And because kombucha is a tea-based beverage, it contains caffeine. In general, pediatric health experts caution against kids under 11 having any caffeine at all, and recommend they consume less than 100 mg per day between 12 and 17 years old.

Of course, many adults turn to kombucha for its benefits, specifically as a way to support gut health and get some probiotics in your diet. If that’s why you want to share it with your kids, Donovan recommends reaching instead for yogurt or probiotic supplements formulated for children. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so “make sure that it’s third-party verified,” she says.

So, it sounds like the folks who know pediatric health aren’t into the idea of sharing kombucha with your kids. But since it’s kind of pricey anyway, maybe that’s a good thing.


Lindsey Donovan, MS, RDN, a pediatric clinical dietitian at Wolfson Children’s Hospital of Jacksonville

Dr. Dorota Szczepaniak, M.D., pediatrician at Seattle Children’s