The Case for Drinking Kombucha

Izzy Rodney

Many of you have probably heard of or seen bottles of Kombucha on the shelves of your local supermarket. With a multitude of different brands and companies creating their own Kombucha, offering varieties of flavours, not only is this a great drink but it also has quite a few health benefits. Keep reading to find out why this fermented drink is good for us.

Kombucha is a fermented drink made from tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast (also known as SCOBY – Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast.) The bacteria and yeast are usually brewed into green or black tea, with sugar added. It is then left to ferment for a few weeks, resulting in a slightly sour and fizzy cold drink. Its sweetness depends upon how long it is left to ferment and the amount of additional flavours added.

Forbes highlighted that it is classed as a ‘functional beverage’, meaning it is “a non-alcoholic drink that contains vitamins, amino acids or other nutrients associated with health benefits.”

[I] quite enjoyed the balance of sweet and sour

Traditionally, Kombucha is brewed with black tea. This is because black tea leaves can fully oxidise, providing all the necessary nutrients for the SCOBY and its strong flavour. Whereas with green tea, it has only been partially oxidised which is what gives it that mild, earthy flavour! But research has suggested that using green tea produces the healthiest culture for the fermentation process and so most recipes will include the combination of both green and black tea; helping maintain a healthy balance for the yeast and bacteria.

When I first tried Kombucha, I had simply picked it up by chance one afternoon in Sainsbury’s. I had no idea what Kombucha even was but I was in need of a cold drink and Lo Bros Living Organic Passion Fruit Kombucha had caught my eye with its pretty pink packaging. Upon my first taste, I was unsure whether I liked the tangy aftertaste, however, as I kept drinking I became adjusted to the flavours and quite enjoyed the balance of sweet and sour coming from the fermented tea and passion fruit flavour. It now is my go-to cold drink!

It originated from Ancient China over 2000 years ago

Although the history of Kombucha is heavily debated, the most popular theory is that it originated from Ancient China over 2000 years ago during the Qin Dynasty and was labelled the “Elixir of Life”. And in recent years, Kombucha has become increasingly popular due to its several claimed health benefits.

Here are some of Kombucha’s claimed healing properties and benefits

  1. Contains antioxidants: Green tea contains polyphenols which exhibit high antioxidant activity. Research has linked green tea compounds with a reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular health and helps protect your cells from damage.
  2. Probiotic source: Probiotics consist of good bacteria. It has many positive health benefits and can help improve bowel problems such as inflammation, digestion and can even help weight loss. It is important to note that there is still no evidence for the probiotic benefits of kombucha, but it contains several species of lactic-acid bacteria which may have probiotic function.
  3. Strong antibacterial and antifungal properties: during the fermentation process, acetic acid is produced (which is what gives Kombucha its distinctive flavour). It is believed that this and alongside other compounds may be able to suppress bad bacteria.

In some rare cases, some have reported adverse side effects from drinking Kombucha such as an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting. Particularly, those with certain pre-existing conditions such as immunosuppression ought to be careful.

Remember that if you are preparing it yourself, if not prepared properly, harmful bacteria can grow

There are several recipes online showing how to make kombucha but some personal favourites are BBC Good Food and Holland & Barrett’s. If you are going to make your own kombucha, avoid using herbal teas as they do not have enough nutrients for the fermentation process. It is also important to remember that if you are preparing it yourself, if not prepared properly, harmful bacteria can grow and you can become very ill.

Happy Kombucha making!

Izzy Rodney

Featured image courtesy of Klara Avsenik via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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