Kombucha is being touted as an amazing drink full of health benefits. What is Kombucha and does it live up to its reputation? Kombucha is a fermented, lightly effervescent black or green tea drink with its origins in China or Japan. It is made by combining a specific strain of bacteria with yeast, sugar and black or green tea and allowing them to ferment for at least one week. When fermenting Kombucha forms a film on the surface called SCOBY which stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. This SCOBY can be used to ferment new Kombucha. During fermentation the mixture produces acetic acid and other acidic compounds as well as trace amounts of alcohol and gases that produce carbonation.
The health benefits of Kombucha have not been studied in humans to any significant degree. However, there is significant research on the effects of drinking tea and consuming fermented foods. Therefore, most extrapolate these benefits to a drink that contains both of these in significant amounts. The benefits include:
- Rich in probiotics: Kombucha is rich in probiotics which are "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
- Strong antibacterial properties: Kombucha contains acetic acid which has strong antibacterial proprieties while sparing the "good" bacteria and yeast involved in the fermentation process.
- Rich in anti-oxidants: Kombucha contains tea which is very high in antioxidants especially in green tea.
- Protects against heart disease: Kombucha contains tea which protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation. This oxidation is what is thought to contribute to heart disease.
While the jury is still out on Kombucha in particular since rigorous human studies haven't been done, if you like Kombucha continue to drink it knowing that eating fermented foods and drinking black or green tea will likely yield the same results.