Kombucha tea- it’s not for me

I really want to drink Kombucha tea. I love the taste of it and there certainly are health benefits to the tea, but sometimes you just have to listen to your body.  And mine says, “No way!” very loud and clear.

If you are not familiar with it, Kombucha is a tea made from tea, sugar and a Kombucha SCOBY which is an acronym for symbiotic combination of bacteria and yeast. It has been used for many years and promoted as a health beverage which has helped cure some cancers and detox the liver. You can check out the wiki page here.

I was so excited because a right after Christmas I received a SCOBY from a family member and decided to make my first batch. I purchased a store bought variety to add in to help the culture get started because you are supposed to add some of the “mother” with each batch.

I had a very small glass, maybe only half a cup, of the store bought variety on the day I made the first batch and I had some adverse reactions after I drank it. I started out with a sharp pain in my left side and then my heart started racing and I felt very ill and slightly feverish. I couldn’t sleep that night and spent most of the night drinking LOTS of water to try and flush my system. I thought maybe it was just that there was too much caffeine since i haven’t had any caffeine in over 2 years. And I also thought maybe it was just detox.

So, I was still really looking forward to my batch, which I made with decaf tea. I thought I wouldn’t have the same reaction as the store bought brand if I used decaf tea.

It takes about a week or slightly longer to ferment or brew so I have been anxiously awaiting and testing its readiness. Finally yesterday it was ready.

I only had a very small glass, maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons; I wanted to go slow just in case. It was really tasty! Right after I drank it I felt great, it gave me a little energy boost and I thought I was going to be able to tolerate it.  Then after about an hour I began having some adverse reactions again- same as before.

I just kept thinking that this was related to the “detox” you get when you introduce new bacterial cultures. But, I have had the detox before when starting with some fermented foods and also when I started taking the Advantage Liquid Concentrate. Those detox symptoms were more flu-like with general aches and pains, this was different. The pain in my side was very concerning. It felt almost like my internal organs were shriveling up, thats the best way to describe it. Also, my hands and feet were swollen, like i was retaining water.

I was up all night again and had to stay home from work because I felt so ill.

I did some research and most sites claim that Kombucha is well tolerated but there were a couple cases of organ failure and death reported, most likely due to contamination of the SCOBY.  Since my reactions happened with both the store bought brand and my home brew, I seriously doubt it’s contamination. Plus, my SCOBY looks to be in good health, there is no mold or anything, which is the main sign its gone bad.

I did read on the Body Ecology website that Kombucha is a wild ferment.

Wild fermentation is when the starter contains airborne yeast, which is considered “wild.”

Airborne yeast can be unpredictable to work with, is not native to the human digestive tract and may cause allergic reactions in people with fungal infections (candida).


  • Even after fermentation, kombucha tea still retains too much sugar for the healing purposes of the Body Ecology diet.
  • The alcohol content of kombucha tea is somewhat higher than what is produced as a by-product in Young Coconut Kefir and other Body Ecology probiotic liquids.

My conclusion is that my body is not ready for the Kombucha tea. I may have had an allergic reaction, I certainly have had and still have symptoms of candida. Also, I am extremely sensitive to sugars and I don’t want anything to hinder my healing.

Maybe someday I will be ready to try it again. But, for the time being I am going to listen to my body and stay away! There are plenty of other probiotic beverages that I can enjoy, like, coconut water kefir and home made sodas!

I’m curious, what are your experiences with Kombucha?

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3 Responses to Kombucha tea- it’s not for me

  1. Eileen Smith says:

    Hi! 🙂 I found your blog entry after searching for anyone who was having an issue with Kombucha like I was. I also brewed my own as I really want the health benefits attributed to Buch, and I also like the taste.

    The first few days I drank it, I think I had too much (1/4 cup) as I have read to start with a couple of tablespoons only. I didn’t know this. I had really bad pain in my lower abdomen. I stopped drinking it but the pain lasted 3 days. I wondered if my brew was bad too, but it looked and tasted fine.

    Sooo..I started with a couple of tablespoons a day and all seemed well. I did this for about 3 weeks. This past Monday I went back up to the 1/4 cup, thinking I should be able to handle it by now. WOW , was I wrong. SHARP pain in my lower abdomen and let’s just say I was in the bathroom a lot…. This pain is slowly diminishing. I have not drank any more of it.

    Now, if my gut health is THAT bad, I’m wondering if I should stick to it. Just a tablespoon at a time. Because from what I have read, it’s supposed to kill off the bad and replace with the healthy flora of the gut.

    • Linnae says:

      Oh wow!! I am sorry you had such a bad reaction. I know the feeling, I want to keep drinking kombucha but I am terrified!! LOL
      One thing I have read in Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions, is that some people have a reaction and should detox with beet kvass for a couple weeks before trying it again. You could try that. I did the beet kvass for a couple months but havent mustered up the courage to try the kombucha again. One other thing I noticed is that I am pinning down a sensitivity to white sugar, so for me that could be part of the problem and maybe for you too?? Sometime this summer I am goin to try a brew with coconut palm sugar and see if that helps.
      Best of luck to you! Keep me posted on how you are doing, especially if you continue drinking the kombucha. 🙂

      • Eileen Smith says:

        Thanks! 🙂 I’ll let you know. Hi! I wish I could have my buch tested so that I can decifer if it’s my gut detoxing or something is in my kombucha that shouldnt be there..’cause I’m scared now too!

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