Browsing the drink aisle in the grocery store, you’ve likely come across kombucha. Though it’s gained popularity in recent years, this trendy drink is nothing new. It has actually been around for centuries, and was used in China and Russia to help sickness. This fermented tea drink is known not only for its distinct taste but for its health benefits and unique production process. Keep reading to find out what the hype over kombucha is about!
What is Kombucha and how is it made?
Kombucha is a fermented drink made of brewed black or green tea and an added sugar. The added sugar of choice is often pure cane, but other sweetening methods such as honey and fruit are used, too. The traditional way of preparing kombucha was at home, but it has since been industrialized. The process begins by brewing a large amount of tea in a pot. Once brewed and cooled to room temperature, it’s poured into a nonmetal jar, and the sugar is added. The jar is sealed with a cloth and rubber band, and placed in a warm, dark area. After 5–7 days, a scoby will form at the top. A scoby is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, usually circular and slimy, which is the signature sign of a properly brewed kombucha. With clean hands, the scoby is removed and the liquid is filtered and placed in a new bottle to sit for a few days. At this point, if you want flavored kombucha, you can add a bit of fresh fruit or juice. After sitting in the bottle, it will carbonate and is then ready to drink.
Why should I drink this?
People are often turned away from kombucha after seeing the pictures of it fermenting with the scoby. If you can look past the unappetizing production process, it offers a wide array of health benefits. Due to the large number of bacteria and yeast formed through fermentation, there are loads of helpful bacteria contained in one glass of kombucha. These bacteria are helpful with digestion, reducing risk of cancer and heart disease, and have acetic acid and antioxidants that kill harmful bacteria. One of the less studied benefits is on mental health. It is believed by dedicated consumers that it improves emotional stability and overall mood, though there is not a lot of scientific data to support this claim yet.
Should you make your own or buy it?
If you’re grossed out by the process, it might be best to buy the already packaged kombucha in the store. When you navigate the different brands, look for labels that say “raw” to certify it has all the original fermented bacteria. Some commercial kombucha brands are just sugary tea and juice, and have little to no benefits, so be careful. If you’re interested in making your own, do take precautions to make it safely. Steps like washing your hands and the bottle thoroughly prevents harmful bacteria from entering the drink.
As always, consult your doctor before introducing something new like homemade kombucha into your routine to weigh whether this is good for your body.
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