Trendy Kombucha Vanishes Over Alcohol Worries

Fans lament trendy tea's absence
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2010 9:39 AM CDT
In this photo made July 1, 2010, samples of product line of Katalyst Kombucha fermented tea are displayed in a refrigerated storage unit at the Katalyst Kombucha company in Greenfield, Mass.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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(Newser) – It's a fermented, pungent tea, but it's the alcohol that can lurk inside of kombucha that's causing a stink. In the past month, the ancient and trendy tea has vanished from the shelves of Whole Foods and other retailers as the government tests raw kombucha to determine whether it should be regulated as an alcoholic beverage. The tea's disappearance has distraught kombucha fans commiserating in Facebook groups with names like "Dude, where's my kombucha?"

Kombucha leaves production containing almost no alcohol. But because the raw version of the drink has live yeast, it ferments over time, sometimes exceeding the 0.5% alcohol limit, meaning it's not technically a non-alcoholic beverage. The tea's devotees hope it will be back soon. In the meantime, "I've considered taking up wine. I just don't like how that feels," one kombucha drinker told the AP. "I just drink water and count the days." (Read more kombucha stories.)

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