Kombucha is the fastest-growing drink in the good-for-you category of beverages today. It has come a long way from being tagged as a hippie drink to one of the healthiest beverages on the shelves of supermarkets. Despite the controversies about its health benefits and alcohol content, it continues to become the most promising fermented drink of the century.
What’s the buzz behind kombucha and why do so many people continuously become its fans? Its mysterious origins, peculiar taste, and health benefits add to its appeal but it boils down to the core nature of kombucha.
Kombucha: The Upcoming Yakult of the 21st Century
Kombucha, colloquially known as booch, is a fizzy fermented sweet-and-sour tea available in the market in different flavors. It has lower sugar content than soda and is significantly low in calories. As a product formed before a fermented sweet tea becomes vinegar, it has a unique balance of sweetness and acidity.
Since kombucha has probiotic properties, it is often lined up with other probiotic foods like kimchi, kefir, and Yakult. Due to its growing popularity and positive remarks from the public, a lot of kombucha brands are now available in supermarkets and health food stores across the globe, making it the next best probiotic or functional drink for the 21st century.
Where did kombucha come from?
Kombucha has been popular in recent years but its time in the spotlight dates back to 200- 2010 B.C. It first started in China and is locally known as black tea mushroom or 红茶菌 /hong-cha-jun/. Then, it came to Russia as kombacha and Germany as kombuchaschwamm.
The name kombucha is believed to be coined after the name of the Korean physician Dr. Kombu who gave kombucha as a cure to Emperor Inkyo of Japan. In Japanese and Korean, the word kombucha means Kombu’s tea or Dr. Kombu’s tea.
Back in the day, kombucha was used as a tonic for treating several diseases such as nausea, digestive issues, and other illnesses. It was even called the Tea of Immortality because legend has it that it is the elixir that kept the emperor young and healthy. However, there’s still a long road ahead for advanced science today to conduct human trials and clinical research to verify its health benefit claims.
How kombucha is made
Kombucha is made at the last stage before the sweetened tea turns vinegar. The whole process of making kombucha consists of two fermentation processes. On the first fermentation, black or green tea is mixed with sugar and SCOBY, or kombucha starter culture. The yeast and good bacteria in the culture will convert sugar into acid for 2 to 3 weeks.
The goal of the week-long second fermentation is to enhance the carbonation in kombucha. The process involves trapping the carbon dioxide released by the good bacteria by using smaller airtight bottles. It is also the stage where you can add fruits and spices to add flavor to the brew.
What is kombucha SCOBY or culture?
SCOBY or Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast is a gelatinous disc that floats on top of kombucha. It is a by-product of the kombucha fermentation process that holds tons of live good bacteria and yeast. A starter kombucha culture is an unflavored kombucha tea with yeast and good bacteria that you can use to brew a new batch of kombucha. In brewing a new kombucha, you can either add both SCOBY and starter culture or use them separately.
Kombucha benefits: Is kombucha good for you?
There are many claims about the health benefits of kombucha. It is the reason why the growing health-conscious population is getting into this fizzy fermented drink. Most of its purported health benefits stem from the antioxidant and antibacterial properties of black and green tea.
Animal studies suggest that the tea properties magnify kombucha’s potential healing effects, such as:
- Helps treat cancer.
- Manages Type 2 Diabetes.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Aids in weight loss.
- Improves skin.
- Reduces liver toxicity.
Most of the health benefits of kombucha are only based on animal studies and there are several ongoing human trials today to back the claims. However, medical experts believe that the lack of further studies does not negate the healing potential of kombucha as a healthy drink. It only needs further research to discover its full effect on the human body.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it healthy to drink kombucha daily?
It is healthy to drink kombucha daily as long as it is within the recommended daily intake of 12 oz. Due to its acid content, drinking too much kombucha can lead to side effects, such as upset stomach or nausea.
Why you shouldn’t drink kombucha?
There is no reason for you to not try kombucha. However, if you are suffering from a chronic disease, pregnant, or breastfeeding, it is better to opt for other healthy alternatives. The acid and good bacteria in kombucha may react to the medications of immunocompromised individuals and affect the pregnancy of soon-to-be moms.
Does kombucha get you drunk?
Kombucha contains less than 0.5% alcohol which is not enough to get you drunk. However, it can make you feel a little bit tipsy or relaxed. Its low alcohol content makes it the best drink to help you wind down and relax after a long day.