Kombucha, although relatively new in the Philippines, has been taking American store shelves by storm for a few years now. It’s one of the trendiest beverages in the market. Thanks to celebrities like Joe Rogan, who constantly posts about his love for Kombucha and Shailene Woodley, who makes her own booch and other people who swear by the benefits they got from drinking this fermented concoction. But, what the heck really is Kombucha Tea?
What is Kombucha tea?
Kombucha Tea is a beverage made through mixing tea, sugar, water and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). The SCOBY is the culture that is responsible in fermenting the tea. The yeast in the SCOBY is responsible for converting the sugar to alcohol while bacteria converts alcohol into acetic acid that results to the sour taste of kombucha tea.
The Origin of Kombucha Tea
The origin of Kombucha tea is not clear. But it has been associated with Germany, Japan, China and Russia and Eastern Europe. The most famous story of origin of Kombucha is that it came from Japan. Hence the name that was derived from Japanese words “kombu” and “cha” meaning tea. But the first recorded usage of Kombucha is in China during the Tsin Dynasty. They called it then as the “Tea of Immortality”. In the French part of Switzerland, it is called Mo-gu.
How Kombucha tea is made
Kombucha tea is made by mixing tea, sugar, water, kombucha starter tea and kombucha SCOBY. The concoction is left to ferment in a warm and dry place for a few days. When it starts to smell and taste vinegary, it is ready for consumption. Kombucha tea can be enjoyed either plain or with flavor. Flavors usually used as fruits, spices like cinnamon and superfoods like chia seeds.
Kombucha tea is Alcoholic
If you have been reading about Kombucha, you would know that Lindsay Lohan made it (more) famous after she said it’s the reason why her alcohol-monitoring bracelet set-off. Lohan claimed she has been drinking Kombucha, which contains alcohol. Kombucha has alcohol. However, the level of alcohol is small. The level is also different in each home brew. Many factors affect how the yeast turns the sugar to alcohol. The alcohol levels in homebrewed kombucha is usually in between .5% to 3%. Also take note that the longer you leave Kombucha fermenting, the more alcoholic it will become.
Kombucha is Caffeinated
One misconceptions about Kombucha is that its caffeine level reduces by the end of the fermentation cycle. The truth is, caffeine in Kombucha still remains in the same level from day 1 to the end of the brewing period. This is according to Michael Roussin, author of “Analyses of Kombucha Ferments“. If you can’t consume caffeinated drinks, use a decaffeinated tea.
Kombucha contains Sugar
Contrary to claims of other people that Kombucha is sugar-free, Kombucha contains sugar. The yeast in Kombucha doesn’t consume the sugar and make it magically disappear. Michael Roussin, a kombucha lover wrote this after testing 1103 samples of Kombucha from North America, Europe and other parts of the world. Roussin, however said, the sugar content in Kombucha depends on how long you let it ferment. A 3-day brew is going to have more sugar content than a 30-day brew. If you want as little sugar as possible, let your Kombucha ferment longer.
Kombucha cannot cure everything
Many people come to me and ask if Kombucha can help them with their condition. I always say Kombucha can help with our health but I don’t say it can help in curing certain conditions. Because firstly, I am not a medical professional to say so. Secondly, I have not researched and tested thousands of kombucha tea. Lastly, it just isn’t possible. Kombucha cannot cure anything and everything. What Kombucha may do is help in bringing your body back to its balance by influencing your gastrointestinal microbial flora through its antibiotic activity. The Glucuronic acid, which can be found in substantial quantities of Kombucha, aids in detoxification. That is why people with high blood pressure, rheumatism, gout, furuncolosis, and nervousness are recommended to use Kombucha as a therapy (Frank, 1991).
Kombucha is not dangerous and did not cause the death of a woman in Iowa
When people ask me about the safety of Kombucha, they always talk about that Kombucha has not been tested enough for people to claim that it is healthy and safe to consume. They also usually follow it with the death of a woman in Iowa, who brews and drinks Kombucha. Reports about this case say that the severe unexplained illness of two women in Iowa where one of them died, is associated with Kombucha consumption. The two women brew Kombucha at home using cultures that came from the same mother. This led the Iowa Department of Public Health to warn people to stop consuming Kombucha until their evaluation of the case is not yet done. According to Sandor Ellix Katz, they were not able to explain the association of Kombucha drinking to the unexpected death and illness of the two women. Furthermore, 115 other people who consumed Kombucha from the same mother said they never had problems. No toxic and human pathogens were also found when the SCOBY and the kombucha tea consumed by the said women were tested.
These are just some facts about Kombucha. Without a doubt, there is still so much to learn about this fermented beverage. But, I hope that will not stop you from stepping in to the world of kombucha homebrewing. Try it for yourself and let me know how it affected you in any way.
Do you have a question about Kombucha that you’d like to find answer to? Leave it in the comments and I’ll answer it for you.