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The term "kombucha" generally refers to a fermented beverage produced from a mixture of steeped tea and sugar, combined with a culture of yeast strains and bacteria.  Some kombucha products also have fruit juice or other flavors added during production.  The combination of sugar and yeast triggers fermentation, which may produce a kombucha with an alcohol content of 0.5% or more alcohol by volume.

Kombucha is generally classified as BEER but depending on the method of production it could be classifies as a WINE. This is a major difference which will determine the type of license/permit to apply for, what labeling laws you must follow and whether you will pay excise tax as a beer or wine.

Does TTB Regulate Kombucha?

Under federal law, if the alcohol content of kombucha is 0.5% or more alcohol by volume, at any time during production, when bottled, or at any time after bottling, the kombucha is an alcohol beverage and is subject to TTB regulations.

TTB regulations on alcohol beverages DO APPLY to any kombucha that has less than 0.5% alcohol by volume when bottled BUT the alcohol content increases to 0.5% or more alcohol by volume at any point afterwards as a result of continued fermentation in the bottle.

General TTB Requirements

The following general requirements apply to any kombucha that contains 0.5% or more alcohol by volume:

  • It must be produced on a premises qualified by TTB under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (IRC) (see K16);

  • It must comply with the applicable labeling, formula, and tax requirements of the IRC (see K12, K14, and K15); and

  • The container must bear the health warning statement required by the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988 (ABLA) (see K11).

If a kombucha is classified as a malt beverage (as defined by the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act)), it is also subject to the FAA Act permit, labeling, and advertising requirements (see K13 for more information). 

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