What Is Kombucha?

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What Is Kombucha And Why Should You Be Drinking It (If You Aren’t Already)?

If you frequent any yoga studio, farmer’s market, or even most supermarkets these days, you’ve probably run into some form of Kombucha.  Your health-nut friend who munches kale before Pilates isn’t just citing a new trend when she praises the booch: kombucha has very real research to back up its spot in the natural health hall of fame.  In the last few years, the bubbly fermented drink has positioned itself among all the other K’s in the marketplace such as kale, kimchi and kefir, offering itself up as a more than delicious beverage with added health benefits.

Seeing this drink on the shelf or online for the first time, you might think it’s a new product. But kombucha is timeless (basically), and it’s history stretches back to ancient times. How has this fizzy drink kept up with the centuries?  You guessed it: health benefits — and it tastes great.

Kombucha originated in Asia more than 2,000 years ago, and many cultures in the east have utilized raw Kombucha and fermented foods for eons to preserve food, as a treatment for illnesses and ailments, and to maintain good health.  Handed down from person to person, scobys made their way around the world, and today kombucha can be found in nearly every corner of the earth. 

Lots of the positive press comes from studies in laboratories, animals, and humans that demonstrate kombucha’s potential to increase digestive health, bolster the immune system, reduce inflammation, and even help the body resist cancer [1]. Most of these beautiful characteristics are supported by kombucha’s ace-in-the-hole: fermentation.  And a properly fermented kombucha will contain all of the following beneficial compounds:

  • B Vitamins: the yeast in kombucha produces significant quantities of naturally occurring B vitamins — kombucha is a natural energy drink!
  • Glucuronic, Gluconic, Acetic, & Other Organic Acids: The health benefits of these organic acids include reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure and keeping blood sugar spikes at bay. Acetic acid also has an alkaline effect, which helps all the systems in your body run smoothly.
  • Polyphenols & Antioxidants: Polyphenols are responsible for the antioxidant qualities of green, black, and white However, after fermentation the finished kombucha has much, much more.
  • Amino Acids: the literal building blocks of the body, sufficient amino acid intake is an essential requirement for optimal health.
  • Organic Enzymes: involved in the digestion of food, enzyme intake is thought to protect against this malabsorption
  • Live Probiotics: an essential component of digestion and a healthy gut, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests some illnesses can be treated with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria.

Within this article, we’ll uncover what exactly it is, some of the suspected health benefits, and why we love it so much!  But, before we delve into the details, let’s back up and answer the overarching question….

What is Kombucha?

It’s tea…but fancy, fizzy, fermented, delicious, healthy tea. The beverage starts with tea (green, black, or white), sugar, and water as a base, and here at Raw Brewing Co., we call that kombucha wort.   Kombucha is fermented using a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY), commonly referred to as a “mother” or “mushroom” because of its ability to form a mushroom-like structure during the fermentation process.  The SCOBY is what creates the magic, but here’s the basics of this biochemical reaction:

  1. The yeast in the scoby eat sugar, creating alcohol, carbon-dioxide, B-vitamins, and beneficial enzymes in the process.  The yeast in kombucha is why some people feel the flavor is reminiscent of beer, the carbon-dioxide is why it becomes fizzy, and the B-vitamins are why so many feel a boost of mood and energy when they consume it.
  2. The beneficial probiotic bacteria in the scoby eat the alcohol, creating more bacteria, additional beneficial enzymes, and all the beneficial acids in the brew.  The bacteria are what create the typical kombucha vinegary-tartness so many bucha drinkers around the world have grown to love.  The bacteria are also known to be highly beneficial for intestinal flora, support immune function, as well as aiding nutrient absorption and infection control.

This all sounds simple enough, but the brewer’s personal taste, the choice of scoby (different SCOBYs have different yeast and bacteria strains), and the choice of sugar largely affects the finished product’s tartness and underlying flavor.  This is why, when tasting different kombuchas can make you wonder if you’re even tasting the same beverage.  When purchasing kombucha in the store, Be sure you’re choosing a high-quality product, and not just a “constructed kombucha” beverage like much of what’s on the market today, by checking the ingredients.  If it’s got added probiotics, it’s not fermented kombucha — and really not kombucha at all.

Ready to find out why kombucha is so good for you?  Checkout our next article for the answers.

Sources

 [1] Dufresne, C., & Farnworth, E. (2000). Tea, Kombucha, and health: a review. Food research international33(6), 409-421. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?journal=Food+Res.+Intern.&title=Tea,+kombucha,+and+health:+A+review&author=C.+Dufresne&author=E.+Farnworth&volume=33&publication_year=2000&pages=409-421&doi=10.1016/S0963-9969(00)00067-3&[2] Gaggìa, F., Baffoni, L., Galiano, M., Nielsen, D. S., Jakobsen, R. R., Castro-Mejía, J. L., … Di Gioia, D. (2018). Kombucha Beverage from Green, Black and Rooibos Teas: A Comparative Study Looking at Microbiology, Chemistry and Antioxidant Activity. Nutrients11(1), 1. doi:10.3390/nu11010001

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356548/[3] Kim, B., Hong, V. M., Yang, J., Hyun, H., Im, J. J., Hwang, J., … Kim, J. E. (2016). A Review of Fermented Foods with Beneficial Effects on Brain and Cognitive Function. Preventive nutrition and food science21(4), 297–309. doi:10.3746/pnf.2016.21.4.297

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5216880/[4] Kombucha Benefits and Risks. Lana Burgess  – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319630.php

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3 thoughts on “What Is Kombucha?

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