What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a lightly fermented tea which has achieved considerable popularity among the healthy crowd. Advocates claim it enhances cognition, stimulates immune function, supports weight loss, can be applied as a therapy for almost any ailment, and even promotes longevity. However, before you dive into it, it’s a good idea to know why it’s good and what to look out for — so here are the 9 need-to-know facts about kombucha:
- What is in this Kombucha?
Kombucha consists of tea, sugar, clean water and a SCOBY. “SCOBY” stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. The sugar feeds the yeast and bacteria which form the SCOBY layer — the very identifiable, thick, layer that rests on the top of the kombucha. This SCOBY adds the flavour, acidity and promotes the fermentation which creates all of the health benefits. It also contains a small amount of alcohol (only .5%-3% depending on fermentation), gluconic, acetic, lactic acids and some substances that discourage bacteria. Many people describe the taste of kombucha as sweet and acidic, almost like soda with a slight tangy vinegar taste.
Relating to the origin, kombucha is traditionally associated with Asia, Russia and Germany but became a popular drink globally by the late 1990’s.
- How is it Made?
Remember, kombucha is a fermented drink. To make kombucha, tea is steeped in purified water and sugar is added. To this mixture, a culture of fungus and bacteria is added. Typical fermentation time runs approximately 14 days. The culture used is a very specific SCOBY, and person looking to brew their own, should find a detailed recipe to ensure best results and maximum safety. You want to be sure you’re only using friendly organisms that are free of contaminants.
- Be Cautious about Making your Own
Keep the fungus and bacteria culture “clean” while making your own. While the SCOBY contributes to the health value, any mould will contaminate the product. Contaminating mould would appear in black, green or blue. If this appears on the culture, dispose of it, clean and sterilize all containers and tools used to make the kombucha and start over from the beginning.
- How Kombucha Protects your Liver
Research suggests that kombucha tea consumption does appear to have protective effects for the liver. Kombucha decreased levels of toxins known to cause liver damage. There are also anti-stress benefits from the tea, these benefits are unique to Kombucha and do not result from unfermented teas.
The bacteria-fungus culture creates a tea loaded with beneficial probiotic organisms. The benefits of probiotics are linked to digestive health and immune function.
Different brewing factors such as tea selection, brewing time, sugar, and fermentation time alter the specific nutrients and probiotics present in any given batch.
- Kombucha May Even Promote the Health of your Lungs
Chinese researchers discovered a unique, potential application for kombucha tea. Used as an inhalant, kombucha was found to remove silica from lungs in an animal model. Although still exploratory, it’s nice to hear that kombucha may be a potential life saver and support normal lung function.
Metabolic problems and liver and kidney dysfunction are frequent side effects of those diagnosed with diabetes. The antioxidants created by kombucha fermentation could help support liver, kidney and pancreatic function and as a result Kombucha may be a good health support option for those with diabetes.
Research in 2010 reported that kombucha appears to protect the layer of the stomach which prevents acid erosion of stomach tissue. This is derived from reduced levels of stomach acid, and has been suggested as a support option for those with stomach ulcers.
- Kombucha and the Kidneys
Furthermore - the antioxidant potency of kombucha tea may repair damaged kidney tissue. Findings suggest kombucha tea has potential for many uses beyond the health-focused benefits advocated by traditional consumption.