For those of you who do not know what kombucha is, let me introduce this amazing, fermented tea! The process of fermenting tea for consumption dates back to 221 BC China and has been used throughout Eastern Europe, Japan, Russia, and a number of other countries for literately hundreds to thousands of years. Many called it “the tea of immortality.” But what exactly is it?
Kombucha is made by brewing black and green teas, (some use many different teas, but black and green are most common), adding sugar, and then adding a SCOBY to the brew. A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast that looks a tan rubber disc. This SCOBY is needed to make kombucha and is essential to the fermentation process of the tea. The SCOBY then digests the sugar, producing a variety of different organic acids and providing key vitamins and nutrients to whomever drinks the beverage after fermentation. Don’t worry, despite the fact that yeast is needed for the fermentation process, the finished kombucha has usually less than 1% alcohol content after fermentation).
You might be asking what kombucha tastes like if you’ve never tried it for yourself. Depending on which teas were brewed, (black, green, white, etc.), and if a second fermentation process was done to flavor the drink, (i.e .juice was added), the drink will generally be carbonated. Some think it is an acquired taste, but the flavor and type of tea makes all of the difference.
Most of the information about the benefits of kombucha come from personal experiences of those that drink the tea, (so your experience might be different from mine or other kombucha drinkers), due to the lack of studies on the drink. As always, you should always consult your doctor before starting a new routine to get healthier, (just like with a new diet or exercise routine). While kombucha isn’t a magical drink that cures everything, here are five reasons to give this powerhouse of a drink a shot:
- It Helps the Gut: This drink is said to be loaded with probiotics. Having digestion issues? Try drinking kombucha and see if that helps get things moving. It helps me out!
- It Aids the Immune System: This can be thanked to probiotics and that kombucha is said to be full of phytochemicals or phytonutrients that act like antioxidants. Personally, I find that when drinking 1 small glasses of kombucha per day, I don’t get sick as often. Watch out though, you don’t want to drink it too much because, (just like anything consumed in excess), it can cause problems. As long as you’re not chugging down bottle after bottle, you should be just fine.
- It Can Help Detox Your Liver: Kombucha is full of Glucaric acid, which is super healthy for the liver and can help naturally detox your body.
- It Could Help Your Joint Pain: Naturally, kombucha is a good source of glucosamine, which is usually recommended by doctors in supplement form to help with join pain, (helps with lubrication of the joints). I was having frequent wrist pain and noticed that it subsided some when I started regularly drinking the brew.
- It Is a Healthy Alternative to Soda: Some people state that he or she needs a caffeinated/carbonated/flavored soda daily. While kombucha is not meant to be consumed in excess, it does serve as a healthier alternative to soda. Kombucha is naturally carbonated and isn’t full of artificial flavors, colors, etc. Soda also has a lot more sugar. But do be careful when you do buy kombucha from the store, (you want to look at if they added juice or extra sugar during the second fermentation process). I found that this helped with any craving that I had for soda and other unhealthy beverages.
**This article was also published in Planting Seeds in South Carolina Magazine.