What is kombucha?

What is kombucha?

You may have that one healthy friend who drinks it in gallons, or this could be your first time hearing about it.

Either way, here’s what you need to know about kombucha and why you might want to consider trying it.

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 bacteria can still be found floating around in the drink. This is not unlike wine sediment and isn’t something that should concern you.

But what’s it taste like?

The taste is frequently called sweet and tart.

Dr. Jacqueline Ivey-Brown, an internal medicine physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., says kombucha has 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.

But despite the benefits of kombucha, Dr. Ivey-Brown says there are a few things you should know before drinking it:

  • Don’t consume it in gallons. 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.

Are you trying to watch your weight? Take a free online quiz to learn more about your healthy weight range here. 

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  1. Where does one purchase Kombucha? thank you.

  2. I have found it at Jewel, Target, Fresh Thyme, and Mariano’s, look in the refrigerated areas

  3. You can get it bottles in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores

  4. “stay away from home-brewed kombucha.” Really?! How do you think it was made for the past 2,000 years? It’s much cheaper (and very easy) to make your own.

  5. Festival carries kombucha in the refrigerated area of the natural/organic foods area. You can get it with or without chia seeds in it.

  6. Yes, I too agree with previous comment “stay away from home-brewed kombucha” was harsh/narrow-minded comment. Kombucha has been brewed by folks at home for centuries. I know what goes in mine. And home-brewed kombucha does not go through all that pasteurization to kill all good bacteria, that you forgot even to mention in your article.

  7. Whole foods sells Kambucha that explicitly says it is “raw” so it has not been pasteurized. otherwise, it is useless because if pasteurized all bacteria will be dead.

  8. “Sugars” how many grams does a regular bottle contain? Is it pure grain sugar?

  9. My favorite brand is NessAlla. It actually has a the SCOBY floating in it. In IL, you can find it at Woodman’s. It’s fermented in Madison, WI, where you can find it many places, including on tap in some restaurants. I need to do a Woodman’s run…

  10. My homemade kabu is way better than any store bought and I trust it more. Its fun to make too and watch scoby get big

  11. I love all the kombucha made by Tapuat Kombucha. It is made and bottled in Door County, WI (Sister Bay). You can find them at Woodman’s, Sendik’s and I think Pick N Save. They are not cheap but they make me feel relaxed! I don’t drink alcohol so i bring one of these along to a party or relaxing on the patio as a fun treat for myself.

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.