What is kombucha?
You may have that one healthy friend who drinks it in gallons, or maybe this is just your first time hearing about it altogether.
Either way, here’s everything you need to know about kombucha, and why you might want to consider trying it in the future.
Pronounced kômˈbo͞oCHə, the fermented tea has been around for more than 2,000 years. It’s made from bacteria and yeast mixed with black tea and sugar.
(Yes, live bacteria!)
The bacteria makes the drink bubbly and gives it the slight scent of vinegar. Because of the fermentation process, which produces a mass that looks similar to a mushroom cap, kombucha is often referred to as “mushroom tea.”
Sometimes small bacteria can still be found floating around in the drink. This is not unlike wine sediment and isn’t something that should overly concern you.
But what’s it taste like?
Based on the somewhat off-putting description, you might assume kombucha doesn’t taste very good. However, the taste is frequently noted as being sweet and tart. Having sold more than $500 million worth at Whole Foods, it’s safe to say that many people like the drink.
If you’re still not convinced, Dr. Jacqueline Ivey-Brown, an internal medicine physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., says kombucha has many healthy ingredients and benefits. Every serving of the drink contains probiotics, B vitamins, enzymes and organic acids. These ingredients are known to improve your digestive system, reduce bloating and even strengthen your immune system.
Unlike other sugary drinks, kombucha only has roughly 30 calories for every eight ounces.
Yet, despite the many benefits of kombucha, Dr. Ivey-Brown says there are a few things you should know before drinking it.
- Don’t consume it in gallons like your health-driven friend mentioned earlier. Too much kombucha can cause heartburn.
- Stay away from home-brewed Kombucha. Commercially produced versions are fine, but like anything containing bacteria, there’s always a chance for contamination.
- Kombucha contains alcohol. While most drinks only carry a minimal amount of alcohol as a result of the fermentation process, this information is especially important for women who are pregnant. Some kombucha brews are also purposely fermented for lengthy periods to give it more alcohol – sometimes as much as beer! So always check the label before drinking it.
Have you tried kombucha? Would you? Let us know what you think.
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About the Author
Jamie Bonnema, health enews contributor, is a specialist of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She earned her BA in communications from DePaul University in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, going to concerts, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.