I have been hearing more and more frequently about people consuming kombucha on a regular basis and how it is a wonder drink – it purifies you, energizes you, some claim it cures a hangover – or even cancer. It also is an acquired taste, according to most people.
So what is kombucha? It is an effervescent, fermented drink made with yeast, tea, sugar, and bacteria. Although it’s sometimes referred to as kombucha mushroom tea, kombucha is not a mushroom — it’s a colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha tea is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea, and allowing the mix to ferment. The resulting liquid contains vinegar, B vitamins and a number of other chemical compounds. A cottage industry exists where home brewers cultivate their own starter or “mother” (much like the sourdough bread process), add it to sweetened tea and let it sit in a glass jar undisturbed for 7-14 days to create a colony of bacteria and yeast on the surface.
The drink is back in vogue (it also was popular back in the 90′s) as part of the probiotic food movement that is thought by many to promote digestive health and boost the immune system. Many experts are skeptical of the health benefits of kombucha due to lack of scientific evidence and actually warn pregnant women and the elderly against consuming it. Many kombucha consumers are buying flavored drinks at retail under brands owned by Red Bull, Honest Teas (owned by Coke) and others.
Have you tried kombucha?