Kombucha, a tea that’s fermented with a combination of bacteria and yeast, always contains at least a little bit of alcohol that’s produced as part of the fermentation process, usually 0.5% alcohol by volume or less. But harder versions of this beverage are really trending on menus.
Although it’s believed that the addition of alcohol lessens some of the impact of kombucha’s known gut-friendly probiotics, it still maintains a “health halo” — a perception of being good for you whether it is or not — in the eyes of consumers who want to drink more healthfully, even when they’re consuming alcohol, which is a known carcinogen.
Kombucha has other attractive qualities for the health conscious: It’s gluten-free and tends to be lower in carbohydrates, sugar, and calories than most other alcoholic drinks. And many people think it tastes good: Hard kombucha is liked or loved by 46% of the consumers who have tried it.
Market research firm Datassential reports that hard kombucha is found on 0.9% of menus across the U.S., up 2049% over the past four years with plenty of runway for growth.
Click through the gallery to learn more about this Flavor of the Week and see how one restaurant is using hard kombucha on its menu.