Sugars in Kombucha Tea
Analysis of Sugar in Kombucha Tea using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
Kombucha is defined as a beverage resulting from the fermentation of tea (Camellia sinensis L.) leaves, sugar and other ingredients. The kombucha fermentation culture is known as SCOBY, short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”. During fermentation, sugar is consumed by the culture, which produces ethanol, organic acids and carbon dioxide.
During a previous study which analyzed the ethanol content of various kombucha products, the sugar content was found to be higher than the expected value listed on the product label. This study was conducted to determine to a preliminary extent the amount of total sugars in kombucha products commonly sold by retailers in the U.S.
In all, 88 samples of kombucha were tested for total sugars content by HPLC, calculated as the sum of glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose and lactose. The range of differences for laboratory values was between -18% and 450% greater than the expected values listed on the product label (See Data Table in Appendix). Products from five out of eight manufacturers contained higher levels of sugars than expected.