Have you ever seen kombucha while grocery shopping and wondered what this drink is, and why it has become so popular? Here are some facts about this amazing probiotic tea.
1. Humans have been drinking Kombucha for over 2,000 years.
Kombucha has been made and consumed by humans since 220 B.C. It was first made in northeast China where people drank it for its health benefits, which include detoxification and increased energy. For the next 2,000 plus years people have been sharing their recipes and methods for creating kombucha, and spreading the word about how it may help you feel your best. What started as a niche health drink is now expected to reach a global market share of $1.8 Billion in 2020.
2. Kombucha is easy to make.
If you can boil water to make tea and have some patience, you can make kombucha. Kombucha starts its life as sweet tea. Homebrewers and commercial breweries alike start their batches by making tea and adding sugar. What transforms this tea into kombucha is a blobby, pinkish-white patty that is called a SCOBY.
3. It’s alive!
The SCOBY, short for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, are what help the sweet tea ferment and become kombucha. Ferment? Yes. Fermentation is the metabolic process used to convert carbohydrates (sugar in the sweet tea) into organic acids and alcohol. This is done by the microorganisms yeast and bacteria, which is why the SCOBY is added to the sweet tea. Yeast and bacteria are living microorganisms and work together as a SCOBY to convert sugar to alcohol, and then convert the alcohol into acetic, glycolic, glucuronic and other organic acids.
4. Kombucha can be a healthy alternative to soft drinks.
Soft drinks usually contain a large amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup along with many preservatives and chemical food colorings. Replacing soft drinks may be difficult for most, but kombucha may provide a similar experience with a host of healthy benefits. Kombucha contains organic acids that can suppress the growth of undesirable bacteria and level blood sugar spikes. It is also rich in antioxidants from the tea and fruits that may be added. These antioxidants help protect your cells from damage from free radicals. Kombucha is usually much lower in sugar than soft drinks and contains antioxidants, Vitamin C and energizing Vitamin Bs.
5. It contains probiotics that can support gut health.
Probiotics are the living yeast and bacteria that are beneficial for digestion and gut health. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha are all great sources of probiotics. Probiotics work in addition to fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The probiotic microorganisms consume the plant fibers that human bodies cannot digest. This is essential for maintaining a healthy gut biome, which is an area where interesting research is currently being performed.
6. You can eat your kombucha.
Not only is kombucha a tasty and tangy beverage, but people are incorporating it into exciting recipes. One easy recipe from the book Kombucha! is for a simple kombucha salad dressing. The recipe calls for 3/4 olive oil, 1/4 cup kombucha, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.
The next time you are at the grocery store, take a look at what they have to offer in the kombucha area. You just might find a flavor combination that intrigues your taste buds!
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Written by: Steve Oram, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern.
Childs, E., & Childs, J. (2013). Kombucha!: The amazing probiotic tea that cleanses, heals, energizes and detoxifies. New York: Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA).