top of page

There are a lot of misconceptions about sugar and kombucha


It is amazing that so many consumers don't know that "CANE" sugar is actually the common refined white sugar, or granulated/evaporated processed cane sugar juice. Cane is grown in the tropic, cane sugar comes from cane juice (which is green in colour), to ship them by sea to North America, they need to be refined first in the tropic (or else they go rot) eg by boiling and processing the juice, then it becomes brown, after arriving in North America, they are processed further, the first batch is called "raw" sugar, a misleading name for granulated brown sugar, then bleach it further, it becomes white sugar. Cane sugar and corn syrup, are commonly used to sweeten most foods and beverages. But many food and beverage manufacturers avoid the dreaded words "refined sugar" or "corn syrup" in the ingredient lists, so they use "cane sugar" or "cane juice" or "granulated cane juice" or "evaporated cane juice" or "dextrose" or "maltose" etc, to disguise or to confuse, giving you the impression that they use something that is "natural" and "healthy".


Then there are also so many people don't know how kombucha is made, where cane sugar (aka white/brown/processed/refined sugar) is used to feed the bacteria and yeast in the fermentation process. BTW, kombucha was invented in China thousand years ago ("cha" means tea), later introduced to Japan, then Europe, only recently introduced to North America. This is a recent craze of people consuming large quantity of kombucha (which has little nutritional values with no antioxidant property), that it would take decades to see the negative impact on our bodies.


Some consumers are so misguided, when they look at food labels, the first thing they ask "how much sugar has it got?". It is more helpful to ask "how much BAD sugar has it got?"  Then look further and ask: "Are there any red flags in this label?" People may not know that label fraud is so rampant. Do they hide sugar as one of the ingredients used? Do they cheat on sugar content? Eg if sugar content is way below the carbohydrate content, then most likely they cheat, as sugar is carbohydrate. Do they trick you with a different name for refined sugar or corn syrup? Do they use the refined white stevia powder as sweetener? Processed/refined white stevia powder is no different than refined white sugar, equally bad for our body.

HoliDrink only uses real/pure unpasteurized Canadian honey, hence its sugar content is "natural" and beneficial to our health. However, some people are concerned about the sugar content in HoliDrink (eg 20~29g per 300mL bottle or less than 2 tea spoons or less than 1/3 or around 20~30% of your recommended daily intake of the bad sugar aka refined white sugar), but people need to differentiate between "good" or NATURAL sugar that comes from real/pure/raw honey vs "bad" sugar from adulterated honey, corn syrup and refined/processed sugar (eg cane or white/brown sugar) that is commonly used in most drinks (including kombucha). Our body processes/metabolizes sugar from pure honey and fructose from fruit differently than processed/refined sugar.


It is well known/documented, that real/pure honey and fructose from fruits are good for our body (despite their high glycemic index), as it is natural and it also helps regulate our blood sugar, while adulterated honey (often with corn syrup added), corn syrup and white/brown/refined/processed sugar (also known as cane sugar or refined or processed carbohydrate) are bad for our body (they are known to contribute to obesity and type 2 diabetes). In short, people need to discern "good" sugar from "bad" or "refined" sugar, and "good" carbohydrate from "bad" or "refined" or "processed" carbohydrate (even if it is low), just like there are good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, good fat and bad fat, etc. 


Then there are many who don't realize that Kombucha is essentially a sugary and alcoholic drink, while some may have been misled thinking Kombucha's sugar content is pretty low as they think the refined sugar (aka cane sugar) is mostly disappeared after fermentation or they think that the sugar is eaten by the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) aka Mushroom. But in reality, after fermentation, part of the sugar is converted to alcohol (which is still sugar), part of it is converted into acidic sugar, and part of it is not fermented (or the remaining sugar) and this "residual sugar" is the one shown on kombucha's product labels.


Essentially this misled consumers ignore the fact that after fermentation, the converted acidic sugar and alcohol, are still sugar. Using the same logic: "if we feed a bee with the same refined sugar we feed the SCOBY, honey is then produced after digestion/fermentation by the bee, would this same consumers say that the sugar has disappeared because it is eaten by the bee and the converted honey is not sugar? BTW, this is just an analogy, our bee farmers don't feed bees with refined sugar, rather our honey comes from the nectars of wild flowers and meadows in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.


Then for the published sugar content (eg the residual sugar after fermentation) on kombucha drinks' labels, one may also find inconsistencies and conflicting info among published sugar and carbohydrate contents of many labels from many different kombucha brands (some are outright misleading), as kombucha is still pretty new in Canada, so it is unregulated, while in USA, kombucha producers are required to show sugar as key ingredient and warn of alcohol content on their labels (by the way, minors are not allowed to buy kombucha in some states in the USA as it is considered an alcoholic drink).

To find out if a particular brand of kombucha have been honest with their sugar content in the Nutrition Facts and Ingredient List, just pick a "ginger" or "original" flavour (so you can compare apple with apple), if their ingredient list does not contain sugar (while they also contradict themselves in the Nutrition Facts by showing sugar and carbohydrate content), then most likely this particular brand omit/hide sugar as one of the ingredients (remember, to ferment, one must use sugar), and may be dishonest with their sugar content by showing you the deceptively much lower sugar content than its actual amount (also by showing sugar of only half or 1/3 or 1/4 of the bottle size in their Nutrition Facts tables) while conflicting with the higher carbohydrate content (remember, sugar is carbohydrate, carbohydrate is sugar, so for example, if sugar is 2g while carbohydrate is 14g on the label, then something is not right, as sugar content should correlate with carbohydrate content, ie sugar should be around 14g too). So you may wonder where does the sweetness in above kombucha's "ginger" or "original" flavour come from when none of the ingredients has sugar or the sugar content is so low?


According to an article published in June 2017 by the reputable BevNet, there are so many American kombucha producers cheat and lie on their sugar content by showing far less sugar content that its actual amount, here are the excerpts from the article: 

"Compounding the issue is that, as with alcohol, there are some lingering uncertainties around the accuracy of reported sugar levels in kombucha as well.
As if the GTs and Whole Foods legal settlement in February wasn’t enough to cause consumers to wonder about sugar levels, the lack of clarity and consensus in that area has created an awkward situation in which individual companies are increasingly left to police each other.
During a public discussion at Natural Products Expo West, Jeff Church, the CEO of high pressure processed juice brand Suja, told an audience that his company had recently researched kombucha in light of claims that brands were understating their sugar amounts. The company sent 30 different bottles of various brands out for testing, and found that many of them came back with up to four times the amount of sugar than was listed on the labels.
This echoed a study conducted last fall, funded by KeVita and completed by NaturPro Scientific, which showed that five out of eight brands of a group of products that included KeVita, tested for sugar content contained higher levels than reported on labels. The study concluded that the majority of the products tested exceeded reported sugar content by more than 20 percent. Two brands had sugar levels that contained an average of 291 percent and 311 percent greater than the label amounts, while KeVita tested at an average of 4 percent below.".

So you may wonder, why the label fraud is so rampant, why some food and beverage manufacturers cheat and lie? Simply to mislead consumers so they would buy their products thinking it is healthy, to drive sales and grow profit, while the chance of getting caught by the authorities is so slim, and the consequence of getting caught is so minor compared to the profits they have already made. These unethical and dishonest food & beverage manufacturers are already making huge profits by misleading consumers with their low sugar content and misrepresenting their products or hiding cane sugar in their ingredient list.

It's worth noting that in our Nutrition Fact Table, we honestly listed the natural sugar content from honey as per 300ml serving size while other beverage manufacturers would either omit the sugar content or show it under a much smaller serving than bottle sizes, and also omit their % Daily Value. Due to above misconception and deception, some people drink lots of kombucha, thinking it is healthy with hardly any sugar, that it is a fermented drink or a probiotic drink. However, probiotic is live bacteria believed to be beneficial to our gut (or it helps with digestion). But one can get excellent digestion from consuming fruits and vegetables instead of drinking kombucha for its sole probiotic benefit (BTW, if you have bad diets, taking probiotic would not promote good gut health). In short, drinking kombucha is no different than drinking alcohol and soda/sugary drinks, and such unhealthy drink would not help prevent diabetes and obesity.

You may be surprised that there are far too many food and beverage manufacturers who cheat and lie in their labels. Some are so blatant in misleading consumers and misrepresenting their product info on labels. Here is the link to another lawsuit related to Canada Dry's Ginger Ale, where it claims it is made of real ginger but the ingredient list contains no ginger but lots of bad sugar (eg cane sugar, glucose-fructose), flavour, colour (eg caramel) and preservatives (eg citric acid, sodium benzoate):

​Here is the link to GT's kombucha that has been sued in California USA for hiding sugar in their ingredient list, misleading low sugar content, not disclosing alcohol content etc. The company has relabelled in California, but their misleading labels may exists elsewhere.​


You may want to watch this video "Fed Up" about corn syrup, cane sugar, diabetes, obesity, moral questions about food and beverage companies, how they lobby/control politicians and medical/scientific folks, etc :, and you may also want to watch this documentary "What The Health" about sugar, diabetes, cancer, diet, dairy, meat, research and health organizations (eg diabetes association, heart foundation, cancer society) funded by the sugar, dairy, meat industries, etc. 


Here are 2 more examples of those that have been caught and pleaded guilty: Castle Cheese who claimed their cheese is 100% parmesan but contained wood pulp  and Ribena Juice who claimed no added sugar and rich in Vitamin C but their sugar was way higher than soda and contained hardly any Vitamin C

bottom of page