What Is Kombucha? A Closer Look
What is kombucha? A few years ago, it seemed to have popped up out of nowhere and quickly sored to popularity, reaching pretty much every health food store around. Some people know this drink as a fizzy tea that is both sour and sweet and known for its many health benefits, but some may be completely unfamiliar with it entirely.
Kombucha is an ancient northern Chinese fermented tea usually made from green or black tea, originating in 220 B.C. However, it’s name is derived from a man called Dr. Kombu, a Korean who brought this tea to Japan since it was so renowned for its healing properties1. Much later in the 20th century, it finally made its way to Europe. One popularity spike for this tea occurred in the 1960s while another is happening currently.
What Is Kombucha?
While there is alcohol in it, the amount is so low that it is sold as a non-alcoholic beverage. It is also filled with amino acids and vitamins which are believed to contribute to its many health benefits. The most unattractive part of kombucha is probably the SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), which is responsible for making this tea what it is. Without the SCOBY, this tea would simply be unfermented tea (very ordinary indeed). The SCOBY takes the form of a disk and is placed within a vat of slightly sweetened tea and left to ferment for a few weeks at room temperature. After that, the drink is bottled for another few weeks to allow for carbonation1.
Only then is the bottled drink refrigerated to slow down the carbonation and fermentation process. This part is important because if the kombucha is not refrigerated and left to continue fermenting at full force, the alcohol content increases dramatically. On the other hand, the antimicrobial properties of this fermentation process makes it relatively easy for homebrewers to make this tea on their own. However, this is not to say that homebrewing your own kombucha is completely safe. If not done property, it can grow harmful mold which can make the drinker seriously ill.
Now that the history and creation process of kombucha is out of the way, we can focus on its famous health benefits. Many have claimed that it is a miracle drink that can cure cancer, hair loss, and AIDS. This is not true and there has been no scientific evidence to back up these claims. However, this is not to say that kombucha does not do anything whatsoever. It is actually considered a probiotic thanks to its fermentation process, and it is similar to yogurt in this way. Probiotics are known for helping gut health and digestion. They may also help to improve some cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea. It may also help strengthen your immune system2.
In the same vein, kombucha may also help your body dispose of toxins and give you a boost of energy. However, it is to be remembered that kombucha is made of green or black teas, which have health benefits of their own. For example, when kombucha is made of green tea, it inherits green tea’s benefits of weight loss and antioxidants which protect from your cells becoming damaged2. Kombucha in general is also a good choice for staying hydrated. There have been no risks associated with drinking kombucha as long as the drink is obtained from professional manufacturers.
- Troitino, Christina. (2017). “Kombucha 101: Demystifying The Past, Present And Future Of The Fermented Tea Drink.” Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinatroitino/2017/02/01/kombucha-101-demystifying-the-past-present-and-future-of-the-fermented-tea-drink/?sh=6de045ad4ae2.
- Nazario, Brunilda. (2020). “Kombucha.” WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/the-truth-about-kombucha#1.