What is Kombucha?

Avatar:
Alexandra Zohn
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
13

About 10 years ago I wrote an article for a magazine about cooking with tea, and I came across “kombucha” during my research. A tea sommelier explained that it was an ancient Asian Champagne-like fermented tea beverage and obviously I got very curious… 

A few months later I found a bottle for sale in a tiny store in NYC’s Lower East Side and that’s where the love story began…

Every day I look forward to my kombucha sipping time and if I had to choose between ice cream or kombucha, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second, which is surprising, as I’ve been a faithful ice cream lover for years. Full disclosure: I’ve shared kombucha with many friends and family members, and although some people love it since the first gulp, others hate it, and for some, it turns into an acquired taste…

Thankfully, many others have jumped into the kombucha wagon, and it’s now sold in many stores, including mainstream supermarkets. The habit of drinking commercially made kombucha might get tough on the wallet, but there’s an easy solution: brewing it at home.

But first, what is kombucha exactly? 

It’s a cultured beverage made by fermenting sweetened tea (black or green) with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, aka “the mother”). The result is an effervescent, acidic, fruity and slightly sweet beverage that is rich in probiotics (good-for-our-gut microorganisms), B vitamins, organic acids and enzymes. 

However, the exact bacteria, sugar and acid content of each kombucha varies depending on the initial culture, the type and strength of tea and the kind of sugar used, the type of water, how long it was brewed for and other specific circumstances. Most of the original sugar content in the recipe is lost to fermentation, but there’s a bit remaining (about 2 grams per cup). 

Kombucha Starter - DIY homemade kombucha

Kombucha contains some caffeine and less than 1% of alcohol. It’s been lauded for many health benefits, such as improved digestion, weight loss, increased energy, detoxification support, immune strength, joint pain reduction and cancer prevention. And although there’s some research beginning to support some of these claims, it’s mostly anecdotal evidence. With its firm supporters come also those who state that all kombucha benefits are unsupported, so I leave it up to you to determine how you feel when and after drinking it.

Click here to get my DIY recipe for making kombucha at home.

Want stories like this delivered right to your inbox? Sign up now for our *free* JOY of KOSHER Newsletter.