A major producer of kombucha is asking Congress to reconsider a bill aimed at revising federal excise taxes and regulations on companies that make the fermented tea drink.
The bill would raise the applicable alcohol-by-volume limit from 0.5 percent to 1.25 percent. Its sponsors include Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. The gist is to keep kombucha from being taxed the same as beverages with greater alcohol content.
Matt Thomas is CEO of Brew Doctor’s Kombucha based in Portland. He says he’s concerned that if approved, the “Kombucha Act” could encourage companies to make more potent, stronger forms of the drink.
“You know, on-duty medical professionals, kids, and recovering alcoholics are all customers, they all drink kombucha," says Thomas.
"I don’t think we can responsibly offer them 12 to 16-fluid ounces of kombucha with one and a quarter percent alcohol and not expect some kind of negative consequences.”
Thomas says it’s possible to make kombucha that doesn’t reach the 0.5 percent level, and he’s willing to help fellow makers do that. He says he’s reached out to Senator Wyden’s office to visit his plant and discuss the bill in greater detail.