Editorial Article: Evaluating the Differences in Kombucha Samples through Sugar Analysis

In a poster presentation from AOAC, discover a simple and accurate method for carbohydrate determination in Kombucha

19 Jan 2017



The AOAC 2016 Annual Meeting and Exposition, held in Dallas, Texas, aims to educate and facilitate the collaboration of scientists from around the world, through scientific sessions, roundtables, workshops, and poster presentations to meet a variety of analytical needs.

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink, which is reported to have health benefits, such as blood-sugar regulating properties. Beibei Huang, Ph.D, Senior Applications Chemist, Thermo Fisher Scientific, spoke to SelectScience® to present a study investigating the sugar content of three Kombucha brands. In her presentation, Dr Huang described how High-Performance Anion-Exchange Chromatography with Pulsed Amperometric Detection (HPAE-PAD) could be used for accurate sugar determination.

Kombucha is a classification and includes any of a variety of fermented, effervescent, sweetened black or green tea drinks. Dr Huang highlighted that Kombucha was gaining increased popularity in US, and there have been claims that it has preventative benefits for diseases, such as diabetes, among many others.

Sucrose is the most common carbon source in Kombucha fermentation, in general, biochemically converted into fructose and glucose, which are metabolized to gluconic acid and acetic acid later, Dr Huang explained. These carbohydrates are largely consumed by the bacteria and yeast during fermentation and it is therefore believed there should be minimal effect on blood sugar levels. However, Dr Huang commented that some of these sugars could still exist in the finished tea. Knowing this, the study aimed to investigate the presence of the three sugars, using HPAE-PAD for analysis.

This method is a valuable tool as the compatibility of electrochemical detection, coupled with high selective anion-exchange column, allows effective separation of simple sugars and polysaccharides with high resolution, in a single run1. Dr Huang commented that minimal sample pretreatment was needed and derivatization of the carbohydrates was not required, as the method allowed for direct detection, significantly reducing sample preparation time.

With excellent recovery and accuracy, the analysis demonstrated good linearity within calibration range for all three sugars, she explained. Of the three Kombucha samples investigated, analysis revealed large differences in sample compositions and demonstrated how this method could be used for accurate determination of simple carbohydrates.

Watch the full video and more interviews from the AOAC 2016 Annual Meeting.

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1 Claudio Corradini, Antonella Cavazza, and Chiara Bignardi, “High-Performance Anion-Exchange Chromatography Coupled with Pulsed Electrochemical Detection as a Powerful Tool to Evaluate Carbohydrates of Food Interest: Principles and Applications,” International Journal of Carbohydrate Chemistry, vol. 2012, Article ID 487564, 13 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/487564