Goodbye, green juice. Move over, matcha. Right now, it’s all about kombucha. Healthy hipsters the world over are going crazy for this probiotic-packed fermented drink, as are countless celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, and Reese Witherspoon.
Why? Because it’s believed to boost energy levels, improve digestion, aid weight loss, and detox the body. It’s also loaded with antioxidants, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s also known as the “immortal health elixir”. Read on to find out all you need to know about kombucha and why it’s time to start taking your tea with a big dose of bacteria. Seriously.
What Is Kombucha?
In a nutshell: a slightly-vinegary-but-sweet fizzy fermented tea that’s bursting with probiotic bacteria. “Kombucha is a fermented beverage made up of organic tea (black, green, or white), organic sugar from various sources like fruit or honey, and a ‘SCOBY’, which is a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast,” explains Sinead Scott, Nutritionist at Talise Wellness. This brew normally ferments for about ten days, during which a colony of bacteria forms on top. It can be scooped out and used to start new kombucha brews, whilst the fermented liquid below is what you’ll be drinking.
Why Is It So Good for You?
Although it’s enjoying some serious time in the spotlight right now, kombucha isn’t actually anything new. In fact, it was first used in China over 2,000 years ago as a cure-all remedy, treating everything from fatigue and migraines to skin conditions and digestive issues.
“After being fermented, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, and a high concentration of acetic, gluconic, and lactic acids,” explains Scott. “Its main health benefit is how it supports the digestive system, and this is because of these high levels of beneficial acids, probiotics, and enzymes.” Studies have also shown that it protects liver cells, reduces oxidative stress, and has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-fungal effects.
What Does It Taste Like?
Although drinking bacteria tea may not sound particularly appealing, it’s actually really tasty – just think of it as a soft drink, except without all of the bad stuff! It’s fizzy, served cold, and sweet and fruity depending on what it’s flavored with.
Are There Any Health Risks?
Be sure to pick your brew wisely as some are loaded with a lot of processed sugar, which isn’t going to do you nor your body any good. Also, just because it’s good for you doesn’t mean you should overdo it. Too much of anything is never beneficial and, because kombucha has high levels of lactic acid, it can lead to some pretty serious health risks if you down bottle after bottle. Stick to the recommended portion to avoid any nasty side effects.
You also have to be careful when brewing your own, especially as you are feeding and growing a living organism. You need to have a safe, controlled environment so as not to contaminate your kombucha. Be sure not to brew it in anything ceramic as the acids can draw out lead found in the glaze, which can also contaminate your brew with potentially fatal toxins. It’s worth noting that kombucha contains very low levels of naturally occurring alcohol (normally about 0.5 percent).
How Can I Make My Own?
You can buy branded bottles of kombucha in supermarkets, in health food stores, and even at markets where it’s literally available on tap in Europe and the US, but it’s not yet available to buy in the UAE. However, lots of people are choosing to brew their own, which is super easy to do.
“To make your own, you need to have a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, a.k.a. your SCOBY, which you can order online or get from someone who grows their own kombucha,” advises Scott. “The SCOBY produces babies, so you’ll have a lot of kombucha to drink in two weeks.”
You can also get creative with your flavors and add any fruits or herbs that you fancy. “I always do a second ferment, which means that I flavor the kombucha liquid. My favorite flavor is a combination of mint, strawberries, ginger, and apple. It tastes like a fruity lemonade,” says Scott.
Interested in learning more about making your own kombucha and fermented foods? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (+971) 55 115 1977.