Kombucha is a name that not too many people know about. While there are some that have heard of its magical juices, there are others who have never even seen what it actually is. Considering it is recognized by the Chinese as an “Immortal Health Elixir,” it’s about time everyone else discovers what kombucha really is and what it can do.
What is Kombucha?
Its name may sound alien but kombucha actually is fermented tea obtained by adding a culture of yeast and bacteria. It is usually added to tea with sugar, fruit juice, or other flavors. During its brewing process, the added yeast and bacteria grow and form into something that looks like a mushroom cap; thus its reference as ‘kombucha mushroom’ or ‘mushroom tea.’
History of Kombucha
For about 2000 years, kombucha has been a well-kept secret by the Chinese. It originate in the Far East and has long played a significant role in Chinese folk medicine. Because of the number of benefits it provides to the health, word about kombucha eventually reached Europe, Germany, Russia, and now the rest of the world. Now becoming a mainstream drink, it’s no longer a surprise to find kombucha being sold in different countries.
What’s In It?
Specialists have discovered that kombucha contains a number of active cultures the likes of Acetobacter, Candida stellate, baili, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Gluconacetobacter, Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Schizosaccharomyces pombe yeasts, Torulaspora delbrueckii, and Zygosaccharomyces. Even when it is transferred into a storage container, the live yeast in kombucha continues to be active.
What Does It Taste Like?
Kombucha has a varied taste, depending on where it was mixed with. But for some drinkers, the taste of the drink falls somewhere between that of champagne and apple cider. It does come with a sweet tart and slightly fizzy taste. While unappealing, some remnants of bacteria mixed onto the tea may be found floating in the drink. This, however, is somewhat similar to finding sediments in your glass of wine.
Kombucha contains sugar, antioxidants, B vitamins, and a high level of acidity. Due to its fermentation process, it comes with some alcohol. The sugar mixed in with the drink gives it around 30 calories per eight ounces, an amount that’s considerably lower than that found in common soda beverages.
Is It Good for You?
Because kombucha has been touted as a magic elixir that can fix just about anything, there are many that refuse to believe this. As a matter of fact, there are many ways kombucha promises to be good for the health. These include:
- Boosts immunity
- Contains antioxidants
- Decreases blood sugar levels and keeps diabetes in check
- Detoxifies the body
- Enhances iron absorption
- Fights against infectious diseases
- Helps headaches and nervousness
- Heals gastric ulceration
- Helps balance metabolism
- Helps cure asthma attacks
- Improves the flow of energy in the body
- Lowers cholesterol levels to normal
- Lowers the risk of cancer
- Prevents calcification in the kidney
- Prevents depression in the elderly
- Prevents epilepsy
- Prevents hypertension
- Prevents iron deficiency
- Prevents the formation of kidney stones
- Promotes cell regeneration
- Protects against liver toxicity
- Relieves arthritis, rheumatism and gout
- Treats high blood pressure
Considering the fact that kombucha (either raw or unpasteurized) contains a high amount of probiotics, it can really help in boosting immunity and one’s overall health. However, it is important to remember that not too many research has been done on people. There still needs to be enough testing before the ‘magic elixir’ hype can be put to it.
Kombucha Health Considerations
Generally, kombucha does provide health benefits to those who drink it. However, there are a handful of individuals who have reported experiencing some side effect symptoms after drinking it. Some of these side effects include:
- Upset stomach
- Allergic reaction
At the same time, kombucha contains a high acidity level, which means it could lead to the onset of digestive problems such as ulcers, sensitivity, or heartburn. Other people who should be cautious about drinking kombucha include pregnant women, those with very poor immune systems or leaky gut syndrome. If you suffer from any of these, it’s best to start drinking kombucha in small amounts and gradually increase the volume so you can see if the negative side effects continue.
It is important to remember that these side effects have a higher risk of occurring when kombucha is made from home because contamination can be possible. When planning to brew your own kombucha tea, it is best to be cautious about using sterile equipment, using only high quality ingredients, and working in a clean space. Another option is to purchase pre-made kombucha as these have been tested for their bacterial contamination.
Where to Purchase Kombucha
Because kombucha has become a hyped up product, it can easily be found in a number of health food stores and supermarkets. These usually come in bottles and may be sold as pasteurized or unpasteurized. Not to mention, there are plenty of different flavors available for the drink. Finding it is no longer a difficulty but if you would like to experiment and make kombucha on your own, you will have to follow the necessary steps.
Make sure you are cautious about buying homemade kombucha as it can lead to digestive problems. Only go for the ones that are sold by a reputable, commercial brand.
Preparing Kombucha at Home
Buying kombucha on a daily basis can be expensive. This is why there are plenty who have opted to making the drink at home. All you have to do to make this drink is to mix your bacteria colony with sugar, yeast, and tea. However, you have to make sure that the fermentation process is done in a sterile and suitable environment so that it doesn’t lead to any digestion problems. During fermentation, you will have to leave the mixture in a clear jar between 7 to 14 days.
Kombucha can be a big help to your immunity. It is, however, not a magic potion. And as always, make sure to drink it in moderation.