What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from sweetened tea, often times using black or green tea. Its history dates back to at least two thousand years ago in the Far East Asia with origins in China. The tea was valued for its benefits in health, beauty and longevity. Emperors would drink this tea to keep strong, healthy and youthful.
The tea is fermented by bacteria and yeast. Yes, that’s right, bacteria and yeast in your beverage! This probably sounds gross, but fermentation is a natural process that produces good bacteria. When we eat or drink good bacteria, they help keep our guts and immune system healthy. When making kombucha, the initial sugar added to the tea is food for the bacteria and yeast, so by the end of the fermentation, there is little sugar left (usually less than 6 grams per 8 ounces of unflavored kombucha).
What does kombucha taste like?
The general taste of kombucha is tart, fizzy and slightly sweet. Some people may describe it as “acidic” or “tastes like vinegar”. The taste does vary though, depending how long the fermentation was and whether flavors were added to it. The longer the kombucha was fermented, the more acidic it becomes and it tastes more like vinegar. There may be traces of alcohol in it from the fermentation process, however you typically won’t taste it.
What are its health benefits?
- It is rich in good bacteria (also known as probiotics) and Vitamin B’s (including Vitamin B12) to help boost your immune system, balance your digestive system and replenish good bacteria in your gut.
- It has antioxidants, including Vitamin C. Antioxidants are important to help us fight colds, reduce inflammation and detoxify our bodies.
- Unflavored kombucha is usually low in calories (20-30 calories per 8 ounces) and low in sugar (2-6 grams per 8 ounces) which makes it a great alternative to unhealthy sweetened beverages such as soda or juice.
- Its packed with Vitamin B’s and has caffeine from tea therefore may give us a boost in energy levels!
- Early research studies are linking kombucha’s potential to reduce stress and anxiety levels. This makes sense considering our gut-brain connection! Stress affects our gut bacteria and decreases our immunity.
Tips on dealing with kombucha
- If you’re buying kombucha, make sure you buy it from a reputable brand to ensure the safety and quality of the drink.
- If you’re brewing your own kombucha, please practice safe food handling procedure to prevent contamination.
- Choose a kombucha brewed with green tea for its higher concentration of antioxidants.
- Be aware of the sugar content of flavored kombucha. There may have been juices or sweeteners added to it. For a low caloric, low sugar choice, choose an unflavored version.
- Kombucha was brewed many centuries ago, but is just starting to grow in popularity in modern times and strong human clinical trials remains limited. With this in mind, drink it with discretion. Eating or drinking too much of anything is never good. When in doubt, I would recommend starting with 2-4 oz of kombucha per day to see how your body reacts to it.