Kombucha and Alcohol or Drug Tests

kombucha alcohol or drug tests

There is some concern about kombucha regarding alcohol or drug tests because of its alcohol content. Can you drink kombucha at work? If I’m driving, can I drink kombucha? Will I test positive if I am arrested?

Drug/ alcohol tests can generate positive results in individuals who have only consumed products that contain a small percentage of alcohol (like kombucha), but it does have solutions.

Cases have been found where kombucha has caused very high positive results, that is, a complete state of drunkenness, generating a controversial issue that we will solve next since the situation is not as it seems.

Is it possible to get a positive result after drinking kombucha?

If you consumed kombucha recently, it is possible that at the time of the test, you can get a positive result. Some tests can detect metabolites from alcohol after a few minutes to even one week, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed in the day. [1]

In breathalyzer tests, kombucha can generate a failed breathalyzer reading approximately 15min after consumption (false positive). And some blood and urine tests may be detected after 2 or 5 days. [2]

Remember that we refer to when traditional kombucha has an alcohol percentage of less than 0.5%. Also, it varies on fermentation, as the article how much alcohol kombucha has over time shows. On the contrary, those called hard kombuchas will give you a real positive.

What are the alcohol tests that could give a positive result in kombucha consumption?

There are many tests, but the most indicated and likely to give a positive result for kombucha are breath, urine, blood tests, and hair test.

Some of these tests can become highly sensitive even after over a week. [1] [3]

We are going to mention the tests and their main characteristics very above:

  • The EtG (Ethyl glucuronide) and EtS (Ethyl Sulfate) tests are susceptible and specific tests, being very useful when alcohol consumption has been recent and can be detected in the urine up to two days after alcohol consumption.
  • Markers, including PETH, a phospholipid in the erythrocyte membrane that only forms in the presence of ethanol, are detectable in blood up to 2 weeks after sustained alcohol intake.
  •  EtG and FAEE (fatty acid ethyl esters) may help detect alcohol in hair. However, they may be less accurate in hair.

The metabolism of ethanol in the body produces TSG through conjugation with glucuronide acid and ETS through sulfation, both found in serum, urine, and hair. They can be detected after two days in the urine after consumption of 0.08g/dl.

HS-GC-FID tests and an ADH-based method in blood and urine samples usually give negative results.

Why is kombucha detected in a urine test?

When urine samples are evaluated, biomarkers capable of indicating alcohol levels in the body are used by identifying ethyl glucuronide, a hepatic metabolite of ethanol degradation, and detecting it for up to five days, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed. [4]

During the fermentation of kombucha, glucuronic acid is produced, which is subsequently conjugated with the ethanol produced in the beverage to form ethyl glucuronide. [5]

If we also add to this the one produced at the hepatic level after metabolizing ethanol, it could cause high levels of this substance to be detected in the urine.

As only this metabolite is detected, it is impossible to differentiate whether it comes from direct consumption of alcohol or some other product that contains only a percentage of it.

This test is required in abstinence maintenance programs for the remission of the driver’s license and the agenda of control at work. This is a problem since even non-alcoholic beers generate EtG results with false positives, reaching relatively high figures, possibly increasing in a few days. [6]

Can it cause me legal problems?

Some products classified as non-alcoholic may contain a certain degree of ethanol which would give a positive result. Sometimes, it is recommended in these cases by law to verify its composition well and be responsible for its use.

Currently, alcohol detection tests are increasingly sensitive, even capable of detecting tiny traces of alcohol. 

Therefore it is recommended to minimize the use of these products or communicate in your work area the consumption of these if their use requires that this type of tests be carried out frequently, thus avoiding misunderstandings. (Check this article «Can I drink kombucha at work?«)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists kombucha as a safe beverage for human consumption, but due to its components and microbiological complexity, it must be produced under the FDA’s Food Model Code. [1]

Regardless of not having a large percentage of alcohol, depending on where you live, there may be legal consequences due to its consumption.

How to avoid a false positive in a breathalyzer?

The obvious answer is to restrict your consumption when driving since you will also be positive on the breath tests. 

Nevertheless, suppose you recently drank kombucha for the moment you get controlled. In that case, a good water-based mouthwash should be able to remove alcohol residue and score 0 on the test.

Can hemp-derived kombuchas test positive for marijuana?

One study found that HCT concentrations are low enough not to generate a positive urine test result. Still, using CBD products sometimes does not develop confidence due to the possibility of side effects.

Foods prepared with seeds or oil from the hemp plant raise concerns about marijuana testing at work. Previously some tests indicated positive results in the urine for the consumption of hemp. Still, another study determined that the detected grams of THC were much lower than the limit required to indicate its presence, obtaining only one positive result of all those evaluated. [7]

There was also the case of a man who presented a hallucinogenic high after vaporizing a liquid from a company called Diamond CBD containing cannabidiol (CBD) for an experiment. The liquid is safe and has soothing properties as an ingredient in kombucha and other commercial products.

It is not supposed to generate this effect. Still, hemp, like marijuana, produces both CBD and THC, which is usually responsible for the psychoactive experience presented.

Although hemp derivatives with less than 0.3% THC are legal, you must take care since many doubts about the products’ supposed healing and safety properties are generated. [8]

This post on kombucha and alcohol or drug tests has ended, but do not go because if you are a fan or someone starting in the world of kombucha, we have excellent quality material waiting to be read.


[1] https://analyticalsciencejournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/dta.384

[2] https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/fail-breathalyzer-bc-kombucha

[3] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02738.x

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4663163/

[5] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1750-3841.14068

[6] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0379073810002094?casa_token=ElRf2SCwQTsAAAAA:vN%202ZcC6Modojj4hYh-yy4rCAdxduVitPKBsKQu5qepJcQQDu6se3gWnIfbzluLEdOXjw661LiQ

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11765026/

[8] https://preventioncouncilputnam.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Ads-Pitching-CBD-as-a-Cure-All-Are-Everywhere.-Oversight-Hasn%E2%80%99t-Kept-Up.-The-New-York-Times-1.pdf