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Can you get drunk on fermented tea?

kombucha tea

“Let’s get crazy kombucha-wasted!” isn’t something you hear very often, which could be why makers of the fermented tea are feeling like they just got punched in the gut.

According to the Associated Press, federal regulators may soon require kombucha brewers to abide by the same alcohol laws as, say, your favorite beer. Doing so would require special labeling, federal taxes, and the loss of their under-21 customers.

Any beverage over the 0.5 percent alcohol limit is usually billed as a booze. “A kombucha tea can edge toward 1 percent alcohol if it is aged and not refrigerated,” reports the A.P. “That’s about a quarter as strong as a Bud Light, which is 4.2 percent alcohol, but still is too alcoholic to be sold to minors.”

Although this may sound pretty wild, it’s not the first time that the alcohol levels of kombucha have been a buzzy topic: Whole Foods briefly pulled the beverage off their shelves back in 2010.

Authorities did say that they would create ABV (AKA alcohol level) tests specifically for fermented beverages, but will continue to fine away in the meantime. So don’t be surprised if you find your local food co-op packed with teenagers this weekend. —Sarah Sarway

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