You’ve probably heard the word “kombucha” (pronounced kom-boo-cha, you’re welcome) now more than ever. Kombucha isn’t new but has really taken off these past few years…but what exactly is it?
Kombucha is a concoction of tea, usually black or green tea, bacteria, and sugar (yum, right?).
To make kombucha, you steep the culture called Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast aka SCOBY (not like Scooby snacks don’t get too excited) in tea and sugar for 7-10 days (sometimes longer) and a flat pancake- like “mushroom” will begin to form (see photo below). This is how Kombucha gained its nickname as the “mushroom tea.”
So, what does it taste like? Kind of like a fizzy seltzer with a splash of vinegar. Not going to lie, it’s an acquired taste no doubt. However, food companies have made it more appealing by flavoring it with juice, extracts, berries, or herbs. I found a great company, Culinary Cruisers, when I was in Boston that did kombucha on tap (the new beer? hmm). I also recently tried an amazing Rosemary Orange Kombucha from Organic Avenue, and I say amazing because I am not a sour and vinegary person but this one was goooood. Another popular bottled version is GT’s Kombucha.
Okay so why are people all over kombucha!?? The mushroom tea used to be marketed as an “immunity-boosting tea” and was popular among people with HIV, cancer, and the elderly because of these claims. However, there are no published human studies that support these health claims.
While I do not support marketing Kombucha as a cure for disease, I do think it has some merit when we take a look at the health perks of fermented foods. Because it is fermented, one of benefits of drinking Kombucha is its probiotic content (the good bacteria). It falls in the same category as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut (fermented foods) which all contain probiotics (think happy tummy), which play a role in GI health, digestion, mood, immunity. And because it is made from tea, you’re also getting an antioxidant boost! Kombucha is relatively low in sugar (GT’s has 4 grams of sugar per bottle), making it a great alternative to sugary drinks (plus benefits of probiotics and antioxidants!).
Many people are brewing kombucha at home but watch out, it can easily be contaminated (and can lead to serious health issues) if not made in controlled environments. Read up before you try to make it at home!
Have you tried the “mushroom tea”? Did you like it- Yay or nay?