Kombucha Makers and Federal Authorities Clash Again

January 8, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. another round / əˈnʌð ər raʊnd / (idiom) – to have another confrontation or fight
Example: He could not go another round in the fight and had to be hospitalized.

2. mainstream / ˈmeɪnˌstrim / (adj.) – belonging to the widely popular or accepted group
Example: The fitness center became mainstream because celebrities go there.

3. sensation / sɛnˈseɪ ʃən / (n.) – a cause of interest or excitement in a group
Example: Don’t believe every new diet sensation you hear about in magazines.

4. sediment / ˈsɛd ə mənt / (n.) – any substance or matter at the bottom of a liquid
Example: The waiter replaced her drink because it had strange sediments in it.

5. skirt / skɜrt / (v.) – to avoid or keep distant from something
Example: The patient skirted the issue when asked by her doctor.


Read the text below.
Kombucha makers and federal authorities go for another round over the alcohol content in kombucha.

Kombucha is a type of fermented tea with good bacteria and a vinegar-like taste. Because of its various health benefits, it has become a mainstream sensation in the United States in the past few years. However, around 2010, it was discovered that kombucha can be fermented long enough to become an alcoholic beverage. Because of this, the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) have clashed with kombucha makers, first in 2010, and again in 2015.

In the first encounter in 2010, the TTB warned kombucha makers and distributors that they should comply with existing alcohol laws, which require labels on any product with more than 0.5% alcohol content. The kombucha makers responded by proposing a different regulation be used for naturally fermented food items that go beyond the 0.5% limit. The TTB, however, did not accept the proposal. In the second encounter, the TTB repeated their warnings and followed up with fines. The kombucha makers responded with a different proposal—create a new federal test.

This proposed test will not follow the usual method of measuring alcohol content by volume. Kombucha makers want authorities to consider the fact that the drink’s naturally occurring sediments, like live yeast, can raise its alcohol content through time. In effect, the new test will allow kombucha to skirt alcohol laws. The TTB, although interested in the test, will continue enforcing existing laws.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A 

·         Do you agree with the TTB’s decision to label kombucha as an alcoholic drink? Why or why not?
·         Aside from alcohol content, what other aspects of food and drinks do you think should be regulated by the government?

Discussion B

·         Would you be willing to try unusual but healthy drinks like kombucha? Why or why not?
·         Name some interesting drinks from your country. Why do you consider them interesting?

January 8, 2016