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Kombucha is a drink that is believed to be over two thousand years old with popular opinions being that the drink originated in ancient China. Despite its age though, kombucha has enjoyed an enduring popularity within both Asia and the Middle East. The reasons drinking kombucha is popular are quite varied though with these ranging from the delicious flavour and a myriad of supposed health benefits. However, due to being a drink that has gone through the fermentation process, there is a concern that it will be considered haram due to containing a slight alcohol content. However, many Muslims do still drink kombucha. As such, like with foods such as crab, wagyu beef or even Doritos, you may be asking is kombucha halal?
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Kombucha?
- 2 Does Kombucha Contain Any Alcohol?
- 3 What Does Halal Mean?
- 4 Is Drinking Kombucha Halal Or Haram?
- 5 Alcohol Fermentation Vs Kombucha Tea Fermentation
- 6 Minimising The Alcohol Content Of Homemade Kombucha
- 7 The Comparison Of Kombucha’s Alcohol Content With Other Foods And Drinks
- 8 Answered – Is Kombucha Halal?
- 9 FAQs – Is Kombucha Halal?
What Is Kombucha?
As mentioned above kombucha is a drink that is believed to have originated in ancient China roughly two thousand years ago. In particular, kombucha is a type of green or black tea that is fermented, sweetened and slightly effervescent. Additionally, kombucha tea as it is also known in order to distinguish the drink from the culture of bacteria and yeast used to make it will often be flavoured in an assortment of ways.
Additionally, when it comes to drinking kombucha, there are a variety of health benefits that are proposed to be conveyed by this form of fermented tea. Some of which include containing probiotics, antioxidants and an assortment of the same benefits as other green tea drinks. Additionally, the kombucha may also lead to a reduced risk of heart disease along with helping to manage type two diabetes and kill harmful bacteria.
Does Kombucha Contain Any Alcohol?
Like with other fermented foods and drinks such as sourdough bread, the natural biological reaction of the fermentation process will invariably lead to some naturally occurring alcohol present within the kombucha. However, whilst there is a trace alcohol content within this beverage, it will be nowhere near the level found within that of an alcoholic beverage where a higher alcohol potency is the intended goal.
With this in mind then, you will find that on average the actual alcohol content found within store-bought kombucha will be around half a percent of alcohol. This is somewhat similar in potency to that of non-alcoholic beverages or alcohol-free drinks used to substitute real alcoholic drinks such as “alcohol-free” beer as they will often have an alcohol content of around half percent as well.
What Does Halal Mean?
Halal is a term that is most commonly used in Islam. Most commonly it will be used to describe a certain set of food and beverages by Muslims. However, it also refers to a great number of products such as clothing, medicine or make-up that will be used to describe products that those who follow the Islamic faith are permitted to use or consume. As such, the word halal will translate to mean “permissible” in the Arabic tongue.
For something to be considered halal, it must adhere to a set of guidelines that are outlined within the texts of the Qur’an. These guidelines primarily follow a focus on the theme of respect and compassion for life in all forms. Often this means the idea of avoiding suffering for animals by slaughtering them in humane ways for eating. Additionally, it also means avoiding the consumption of forbidden, impure things namely blood, dead meat and pig bi-products such as pork.
However, kombucha doesn’t contain any animal products. So why is there a debate as to whether it can be considered halal or not then?
The reason for this is that the word “halal” isn’t just a term used to describe the diet of someone who would follow the Islamic faith. Instead, it is something of a moral code and a guide on how to live. Within these guidelines, you aren’t meant to do yourself harm and alcohol is considered to be an intoxicant or poison which will do harm to the person who consumes it. This is due to how it can strip someone of their inhibitions and senses and therefore take them out of their natural state of being. As such, alcohol will be considered to be “haram” by those of a Muslim faith.
Halal Vs Haram?
Just as halal is a term that means permitted in the language of Arabic, haram is another word from this tongue. However, this term instead means sinful or prohibited within both Arabic and the Islamic faith. As such, items and actions that a considered to be haram are those that someone who adheres to the Muslim faith should avoid.
With that in mind then a person drinking alcohol, indeed any amount of alcohol may be seen as being something that is haram. The reason is that as mentioned above, intoxicants of any kind are not permitted under the guidelines that are outlined in the Qur’an. However, there is some debate about whether food or beverage products that only contain trace amounts of alcohol can be seen as haram as intoxication is not the intent of these products. As such, the question remains, is kombucha considered halal?
Is Drinking Kombucha Halal Or Haram?
When it comes to determining whether kombucha is halal or haram, there is of course something that may be unclear to most as to whether or not it should be considered one way or the other. Now, of course, this is because as mentioned above, there is a trace amount of alcohol present within kombucha.
Similar such non-alcoholic beverages like that of alcohol-free beer will often not be considered to be halal. As such, you may conclude that kombucha or other drinks made from fermenting tea leaves will also be considered to be haram as well.
However, this is not actually the case with many products of this type being seen as permittable under Islamic law. The reason for this difference is that whilst it will invariably contain traces, kombucha products’ alcohol rate is exceedingly low and provides many health benefits. Some of which are mentioned above. As such, a fermented tea product will be seen as mostly beneficial, thereby making it be halal rather than haram.
With this in mind then, when seeking a halal alcohol alternative beverage, then the option of this lightly effervescent sweetened black is often an ideal option.
That said though, this can only really be said with confidence for kombucha that is store-bought and has its alcohol content printed on the label. This is because homebrewed kombucha can vary wildly in alcohol content and with some examples going up to three percent. As such, if planning to drink some homebrewed tea you should first ensure that the alcohol content has been measured to ensure it is no higher than half a percent and therefore still halal.
Alcohol Fermentation Vs Kombucha Tea Fermentation
With the above in mind then you may be wondering how the fermentation processes used to create alcoholic drinks will differ from that of those that are used in the creation of kombucha tea and other similar foods or beverages. Many of the same processes will be used for both. However, whilst a noticeable alcohol content is the intended result of boozy drinks such as beer or wine this is not the case for kombucha tea. Instead, with kombucha tea, the alcohol naturally emerges as a result of the fermentation process.
The typical fermentation process itself is a naturally occurring biological process that involves the conversion of a carbohydrate such as sugar or starch into an acid, alcohol or both. Typically, for higher alcohol content, yeast and sugar will be used since during such a process the yeast will ferment the sugar to gain energy via the conversion of the sugar into alcohol.
Meanwhile when high alcohol content is not what is desired, such as when making kombucha or similarly produced beverages or foodstuffs; a different process will be used. Here, the bacteria will perform the fermentation of carbohydrates and thereby convert them into lactic acid or some other form of organic acids.
In particular, though, when making a kombucha culture for fermenting kombucha tea it will use a distinct SCOBY culture. This is an acronym for a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY will then be combined with both sugar and an already brewed black or brown tea. Following this, it will be left to ferment for between a week and a month with the resulting tea being either sweet or vinegary depending on how long the fermentation process has lasted.
Minimising The Alcohol Content Of Homemade Kombucha
As mentioned above kombucha bought from the store will typically contain half a percent of alcohol content. However, this is not a universal truth for all types of kombucha, especially when it comes to homebrewing some kombucha of your own as the fermentation of sugar will invariably create some alcohol. Fortunately, though, there are a few ways in which you can ensure that the alcohol content of your homebrew is reduced. Some of these include:
- Temperature Control: When fermenting your homemade kombucha you should do so at a temperature of around 70°- 85° Fahrenheit. Additionally, when you are storing it after the fermentation you should keep it upright in the fridge in order to avoid more alcohol being created in the second fermentation.
- SCOBY Type: Different strains of bacteria will produce varying amounts of alcohol. As such, when you select the SCOBY you will use for your kombucha homebrew, you should search for ones that boast of providing a low alcohol content.
The Comparison Of Kombucha’s Alcohol Content With Other Foods And Drinks
When it comes to the alcohol contents of kombucha tea it is on average around half a percent. Although, this can vary especially in the case of homebrewed kombucha tea. However, it is not the only time that fermentation causes there to be small traces of alcohol within otherwise alcohol-free food and beverages. Some examples of such include the following:
- Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is a German delicacy that consists of raw cabbage that has been fermented in lactic acid-producing bacteria. Flavour-wise, it is noticeably sour in taste due to the lactic acid being formed from sauerkraut’s natural sugars being fermented by the bacteria and being turned to lactic acid. Saurkraut will contain approximately half a percent alcohol content.
- Sourdough Bread: Sourdough bread is a type of bread that is made using a sourdough starter to raise the dough rather than a typical leavening agent such as that of baking soda. Instead, the gases produced from the fermentation process of the starter will be what causes the dough to rise. Sourdough will have roughly enough point zero four percent of alcohol content.
- Kefir: Similar to something like a sour and carbonated thin yoghurt or aryan, kefir is a type of fermented milk that is made using kefir grains. It will be made by adding kefir grains to the milk and allowing the combination to ferment for around twenty-four hours. In terms of alcohol content though, kefir will likely have up to half a percent of alcohol content.
- Kimchi: This Korean dish is a popular staple that is typically served as a side to a main dish. In particular, it will consist of salted and fermented vegetables such as Korean radishes and napa cabbage each of which will be seasoned with gochugaru, spring onions, garlic, ginger, and jeotgal. When it comes to the alcohol content though, kimchi can vary from around half a percent to two percent alcohol contents.
Answered – Is Kombucha Halal?
Within Islamic law, alcoholic drinks such as beer or wine are seen as haram, meaning sinful or prohibited. As such, many people wonder if food and beverages such as kombucha tea will also be seen as haram due to having trace elements of alcohol.
However, when it comes to kombucha tea, it will often be seen as halal within Islamic law and as such will be permitted for consumption by Muslims. The reason for this is that kombucha will typically only contain small trace amounts of alcohol whilst also providing a multitude of different health benefits. That said though, when homebrewed, kombucha may become more potent in terms of alcohol content. As such, you should avoid consuming homebrewed kombucha if you are uncertain of how potent it will be.
With that said then, store-bought kombucha is often seen as an ideal option for Muslims when they are wanting a non-alcoholic drink instead of alcohol. The extra beauty of such is that kombucha teas can come in a multitude of different flavours. As such, you should be able to find a variation of kombucha to perfectly match your preferences.
FAQs – Is Kombucha Halal?
Are all kombucha halal?
Whilst in many contexts kombucha is considered to be halal, this isn’t always the case. Typically, store-bought kombucha will be halal as it will often be low in alcohol content and only contain trace amounts. However, when you are planning on drinking some homebrewed kombucha tea you should be cautious to avoid drinking it unless you know for certain it doesn’t contain a higher alcohol content. The reason for this is that when homebrewed kombucha tea may contain up to three percent alcohol content and therefore be considered haram rather than halal.
Is fermented drink halal?
Drinks that are fermented to add alcoholic content such as beer, wine, gin whisky, etc are considered to be haram. This is because intoxicants will unbalance or cause harm to the drinker. That said, though, certain food and drink products that do contain traces of alcohol will be considered halal. The reason for this being that these types of drinks such as kombucha tea will also provide some noticeable health benefits to the consumer. However, when you are planning to drink kombucha tea, it is best to do so only when store-bought and has its alcohol content labelled as less than half a percent. This is because the alcohol content of homebrewed kombucha is harder to predict than that of store-bought varieties.