If you keep up with food and drink trends, you are likely not a stranger to kombucha. However, if you live a vegan lifestyle, you might not know how kombucha tastes. Even though there are dozens of brands and a large variety of flavours, you may avoid trying this delicious beverage because you can’t answer the question “Is kombucha vegan?”. Here’s what you need to know about kombucha’s ingredients.
Answering the Question “Is Kombucha Vegan?”
You can settle your question about kombucha by taking a look at the ingredients. While ingredients will vary between manufacturers, in its most basic form across major brands, kombucha is a vegan drink.
Kombucha is made using black or green tea, sugar, yeast and good bacteria. Either during or after fermentation, manufacturers add flavour with different ingredients. These can range from herbs or spices to botanicals and fruits. Black and green tea are naturally sourced from plants, making these ingredients vegan. Most vegans accept yeast as an acceptable food product, as it does not come from animals. Since it is a living organism, much like bacteria, some vegans don’t approve of consuming it.
Making kombucha is a time-consuming process, as the taste comes from a slow fermentation process. The drink requires a SCOBY or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Keep in mind that the SCOBY is not an animal or byproduct from an animal. It’s a living culture of bacteria grown to aid the fermentation process. Steeped hot tea combines with sugar and the SCOBY to produce kombucha, the fermented result of leaving the SCOBY and tea combination alone for several weeks.
Complicating the Question “Is Kombucha Vegan?”
Being able to consume kombucha as a vegan depends on which brand of kombucha you buy. Some brands use honey to sweeten their drink rather than sugar. This type of sweetener goes against vegan diets, as does a sugar processed with bone char. This is another sweetener sometimes used for kombucha. It’s important to check the ingredients on the label to determine what sugar or sugar substitute is in the drink.
However, some labels only list natural sweeteners or natural flavours on the label. This opens up a range of possibilities, such as maple syrup, honey, cane sugar, molasses, agave and more. You would need to research the ingredients through the company website or by calling customer service to find out the exact sweetener used to be sure it’s a vegan option.
In the United States, it’s common to include bone char when processing sugar. It’s this process that gives sugar its traditional white colour. Even though bone char is just used in the process and not a part of the sugar, some people do not view the byproducts of the process as truly vegan. However, sugar processed in the United Kingdom or Europe doesn’t usually have this risk.