Is kombucha tea good for kids? That seems to be the question of many parents who wonder whether their children can safely consume this beneficial beverage. Though most teas are perfectly fine for kids to drink, the unique formulation of kombucha tea raises some concerns.
Inside Kombucha Tea
Known as something of a wonder drink in some circles, the fermented kombucha tea is widely recognized for its healthful properties. The tea is a marriage of fermented black or green tea and sugar, partnered with kombucha culture, or SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha tea also contains gluconic acid, or alcohol and vinegar. Contrary to popular belief, kombucha is not actually a mushroom, but when the bacterial culture and yeast cells are blended with the prepared sweet tea, a membrane resembling a mushroom in color and shape forms at the surface.
Proper preparation of the tea is essential, as doing otherwise may prevent the drinker from gleaning all of its health benefits. Kombucha is known for its antifungal, antiviral and antibiotic properties, and has been known to decrease stress levels, strengthen liver function, increase energy and reverse the symptoms of various maladies, ranging from cancer to dermatitis.
Things to Consider
Delving deeper, many individuals begin to question the safety of kombucha tea. It is after all a concoction based largely on bacterial cultures, and sensitive individuals may experience discomfort after ingesting it. It's also not completely unheard of for individuals to experience an allergic reaction to any type of food or drink, so caution should be taken when trying the tea for the first time. Though the average adult can generally enjoy kombucha tea without worry, children are usually discouraged from drinking it. This is suggested for a number of reasons.
Kombucha is a probiotic, or a healthy bacterium. Probiotics are renowned for their ability to balance intestinal organisms. While they present plenty of health benefits, the downside is that this particular probiotic may cause discomfort to children (as well as the elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems). The main side effects are digestive and may include bloating or gas.
Of course, children respond differently to various foods and drinks, so it's not a given that they will have a problem with probiotics in general. However, the strain of probiotic can make all the difference in the world - for example, one infant may find relief from diarrhea with probiotic use, while another may actually experience worse diarrhea upon consuming probiotics.
As mentioned, kombucha also contains a very small amount of alcohol, usually in the range of .5 to 1 percent. Though this amount is negligible and not typically a cause for concern, it's still wise to exercise caution. Bear in mind that in homemade kombucha tea, the amount of alcohol content can vary because the fermentation process may be difficult to control. This can result in greater levels of alcohol, obviously posing a potential danger for children.
Lightheadedness is a common "side effect" that individuals experience when drinking kombucha tea. Some have likened the sensation to the slight buzz that accompanies drinking a glass of wine or a beer. Others have reported dizziness and a drop in blood pressure. In some cases, the lightheadedness may be nothing more than a passing sensation; in others, it may warrant taking a few moments to rest and recover. Other side effects, including vomiting and nausea, are also possible.
Needless to say, all of these are concerning issues, but they're particularly worth considering when determining whether or not to give kombucha tea to children. Though kombucha is popular because of its many health benefits, those benefits simply don't outweigh the negatives when it comes to the well being of children.
Is Kombucha Tea Good for Kids
Is kombucha tea good for kids? You may want to consult with a pediatrician and/or herbalist to be completely safe. Since most of the literature regarding kombucha is experiential and not based on scientific research, the decision to give kombucha tea to children rests firmly in the hands of adults. Though the above-mentioned points are worth considering, there are certainly accounts of adults who are supportive of giving kombucha tea to children and extol its virtues. That may play some role in choosing whether or not to allow kids to try it.
If you do decide to give kombucha tea to your child, consider using a store-bought version instead of a home-brewed concoction. Start with one tablespoon daily and work your way up if no reaction develops. Another option is to dilute the tea slightly to decrease its strength. Babies, however, should not consume kombucha tea for the simple reason that their digestive systems are not completely developed and may not be equipped to handle its potential effects.