Alcohol

Kid Suspended from School After Mom Packs Kombucha in His Lunchbox

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kombucha

A school in Newport Beach, California—where you'd think they would know better—suspended an elementary school kid for the beverage his mommy packed in his lunch bag.

It was kombucha, a fermented drink made with tea and sugar that can contain trace amounts of alcohol. The increasingly popular beverage made headlines in 2011 when it (supposedly) caused a false positive on Lindsay Lohan's court-mandated blood alcohol testing. But the typical drinker isn't a blond alkie. Kombucha is a home brew favorite with the seitan-and-seaweed set, thanks to the a host of (unverified) health benefits some believe confers. (For the curious: This is what the tea looks like in process. Link is technically SFW, but totally gross.)

school lunch

The California kid originally got fingered for the container his mom packed the tea in: a glass bottle protected by a foam sleeve. (Aficionados say the acidic tea shouldn't be packed in plastic or metal.) But when school officials found out what was inside the verboten receptacle, they freaked out. The kid spent the whole day in the school office. At one point they called in a police officer. The vice principal suggested that the kid may be required to transfer schools and tried to enroll him in alcohol abuse counseling course aimed at teens. Then the infraction was reported to the school district and the kid was suspended for 5 days. 

The kid's mom got wind of what was going on and wound up getting the suspension revoked, but it's on his record and the school district may yet choose to take action. 

It doesn't matter whether the tea is healthy or not, of course. Nor does it matter if I think it's a little bit gross. Just as with raw milk, the point it that people should be able to drink what they want—and make choices for their kids—without intervention by the cops, for crying out loud. 

(Kombucha photo by Laurie Neverman.)

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  1. And so either (a) another tinpot jackboot authoritarian or (b) libertarian is born. Only time will tell.

  2. Kombucha actually tastes really good, it’s very tangy.

    This story is fucking ridiculous. Never, ever send your kid to public school.

    1. Maybe I’ve just had the bad stuff, ‘cuz it tastes noxious to me.

  3. Kids are still allowed to bring their own lunches?

    1. ^This^

      If they can bring their own lunches, the money spent on trash can cameras just looks foolish.

  4. The California kid originally got fingered for the container his mom packed the tea in: a glass bottle protected by a foam sleeve

    Wait… why the fuck does this arouse any kind of interest? Glass bottles aren’t allowed?

  5. The California kid originally got fingered for the container his mom packed the tea in: a glass bottle protected by a foam sleeve.

    He could have chipped a dozen shivs out of that one bottle.

  6. that can contain trace amounts of alcohol.

    Doesn’t nearly everything we eat and drink contain a trace amount of alcohol?

    I don’t know but my foggy remembering of organic chemistry is that alcohol is pretty much the go to guy for any break down of sugar.

  7. Looking at the wiki article on kombucha, I noticed a link to kefir. I remember taking kefir to school as a kid. Never knew it was slightly alcoholic. Should I worry about retroactive enforcement?

    I guess this school doesn’t allow poppy seed muffins, either.

  8. No one thought to arrest this “mother” for abuse? What the fuck?

    1. Probably because properly made kombucha is about as alcoholic as yogurt.

  9. Under the name of ‘tea fungus’, the stuff was quite popular in the Soviet Union during seventies and beginning of eighties. Then most people somehow realized placebo probably had more beneficial effects.

  10. Yesterday he was drinking Earl Grey. Today he’s drinking kombucha. Tomorrow it will be BATH SALTZ!

    1. Its a gateway tea

  11. This is totally ridiculous. I’ve had Kombucha. It’s really not much different than drinking a bottle of Ice Tea from the Arizona Tea Company.
    It’s a fancy hipstery kind of Ice Tea. That’s all.

    1. tell that to the popo:

      The Police Officer told the boy that the kombucha was illegal and very dangerous if he takes any medications ? antibiotics or anything. Then, the officer asked the boy point blank if he takes any medicines.

      1. *guns drawn*

        Step away from Kombucha, or I will fire on you!

  12. Anyone know what “CoCa” refers to in the popular soft drink?

    1. bolivia and peru still makes it from the real stuff!

  13. It doesn’t matter whether the tea is healthy or not, of course. Nor does it matter if I think it’s a little bit gross. Just as with raw milk, the point it that people should be able to drink what they want?and make choices for their kids?without intervention by the cops, for crying out loud.

    Your recommended daily dose of Iron (Law):

    You aren’t free unless you are free to be wrong.

  14. 20 years ago, my aunt wrapped a soft drink in tin foil to put in my young cousin’s lunchbox, as she did every day. When he opened his lunch, he unwrapped his drink to find that she had accidentally wrapped a beer instead.

    The school laughed it off, as they should have. Today they’d call in a SWAT team.

    1. They would call the SWAT team if it was a beer or if it was a soft drink I’d bet.

  15. The question no one is asking… the cops showed up. Why?

  16. Last week I was drinking a kombucha and wondering – has anyone tried a kombucha beer? Potential to be really good. Call it a seaweed ale.

    Also, I bought a box of Celestial Seasonings Roastaroma tea with roasted barley, chicory, carob, cinnamon, allspice and anise and it tastes pretty much like wort. Wondering if I pitched some yeast into a nice big batch of the tea if it would make a decent beer.

    1. There’s a recipe in one of Charlie Papazian’s books that uses that tea as a component.

    2. Just learned kombucha beer is called “fleur” and there are a few brands like Goose Island that make commercial versions…

  17. The kid’s mom got wind of what was going on and wound up getting the suspension revoked, but it’s on his record

    I hope not his permanent record! That would stay with him for life.

    1. Of course it’s his permanent record! This is the government after all! They days when they would erase your school records when you turned 18 are long gone. We have Harvard to think about, can’t have any kobucha drinking kids ever making it into Harvard!

      1. Haaaaaaaarrrrvard

  18. I bet he will get DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!

  19. Are there any sources for this story apart from the blog linked to?

    1. Oh look what I did ? I found one!
      http://nmusd.ca.schoolloop.com…..6923706097
      According to the school, no disciplinary action was taken and the whole hullabaloo started because the bottle said that it contained alcohol and the school has a strict no-alcohol policy and it was other students who ratted him out for holding the hooch.

  20. Oh look, I found one:
    http://nmusd.ca.schoolloop.com…..6923706097
    No suspension, no disciplinary action, the bottle was labeled as containing alcohol and his fellow students ratted him out because the school has a strict no alcohol policy (surprise!).

  21. Properly made kombucha has so little alcohol in it, that it’s legally considered to be non-alcoholic. Quality control issues can arise from home brewing it, but alcohol content is never the point of the stuff; If you’re making kombucha that anyone could get drunk from, you’ve missed the point of making it at all.

    I imagine the school officials heard the word “fermented” and freaked out on that basis alone. But here’s the thing, fermented includes all kinds of things. Black tea, yoghurt, most types of bread, even cheese are all products of fermentation to one degree or another.

    1. Maybe this time the spam filter will let me post the link to the school’s response to the health blogger running with this story:
      http://nmusd.ca.schoolloop.com…..6923706097
      The school freaked out because the bottle said that it contained alcohol and a couple of fellow students ratted him out in light of the school’s no-alcohol policy. He was not suspended not disciplined.

    2. The spam filter won’t let me post the link to the school’s press release. In short, the kid was not suspended or disciplined and he was ratted out by his fellow students because the bottle said that it contained alcohol.

  22. My mom went up there today for a meeting to take this incident off my permanent record. The principal herself came and pulled me out of physical education to apologize about the mistake the school had made.

  23. Its a gateway tea…

  24. Still no correction to indicate that the boy was not suspended?

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