- What Is Kombucha Made of Anyway?
- Kombucha 101
- Health Benefits of Kombucha
- Preparing Kombucha
- What The Hell Is In Kombucha, Anyway?
- So, What Exactly Is It?
- The Benefits of Kombucha
- But Wait, It’s Not Perfect
- Kombucha – A Doctor Drinks a Glass
- What is Kombucha & Where Is It From?
- No Definitive Proof
- Kombuch Provides Antioxidants
- How Kombucha Interacts with the Gut
- Who Shouldn’t Drink Kombucha?
- Kombucha Has an Acquired Taste
- What the Heck Is Kombucha, Anyway?
- Hard Kombucha
- What Is Kombucha, Anyway?
- What? Kombucha Is An Alcoholic Drink?
- What Is In Hard Kombucha?
- Is Hard Kombucha a Beer?
- Can We Replace Beer With Hard Kombucha?
- Is Hard Kombucha Better For You Than Other Alcoholic Drinks?
- Are There Probiotics In Hard Kombucha?
- So Is Hard Kombucha Actually Healthy, Though?
- Who Should Not Drink Hard Kombucha?
- The Bottom Line On Hard Kombucha
What Is Kombucha Made of Anyway?
Kombucha. If you’ve spent any time at your local health food store recently, you’ve ly seen or heard about this trendy tea. Despite all the sudden hype, kombucha is far from a new concoction.
It was actually first brewed in Asia more than 2000 years ago and has maintained enormous popularity in China and surrounding countries.
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and you can now find kombucha in a growing number of health food markets and cafés around the world.
But the question remains: What exactly is kombucha? The short answer is that it’s a fermented tea drink that’s chock-full of probiotics, antioxidants, and B vitamins.
But despite its fermentation, you’re not ly to get drunk off this stuff. Your average kombucha has less than 1% alcohol, so it’s generally safe for everyone when properly brewed.
Read on to get the full breakdown on kombucha, including the health benefits and fermentation process.
Kombucha is made from regular black or green tea, which is fermented using what’s known as a SCOBY: Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. The SCOBY resembles a large mushroom, but don’t be put off by it. It’s removed long before the tea is served, and it’s there to facilitate the fermentation process.
The live bacteria in the SCOBY are what turn the tea into authentic kombucha. Aside from the tea and the SCOBY, the only other ingredient needed is sugar, though some people also to add fresh fruit, honey, or other flavor enhancers.
When trying kombucha for the first time, the first thing you’ll notice is the slight vinegar smell. The tea itself has a sweet, tart taste.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha has been heralded for treating everything from arthritis to heartburn to depression, but a lot of these claims are anecdotal and still require more research. Because of the amount of bacteria present, pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system should avoid kombucha.
With that said, clinical research has revealed a few promising health benefits.
For instance, one study found that kombucha may improve HDL- and LDL-cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
That same study found that kombucha may slow the digestion of carbohydrates and improve blood sugar levels. Perhaps most impressive of all, kombucha may even slow the growth of cancer cells.
If you’ve never made kombucha at home, it’s best to purchase a kombucha starter kit, which can be found online. The kit will provide you with the necessary SCOBY, starter tea, and other ingredients, along with general instructions.
The preparation process is fairly easy. Just boil four cups of water and steep eight bags of your favorite tea. Stir in sugar to your liking and let it dissolve. Then let the tea cool. From there, add two cups of starter tea. This is tea from a previous batch of kombucha that adds acidity to the liquid and protects you from the bacteria.
Pour your mixture into a gallon-size jar and carefully add a SCOBY using clean hands. Cover the jar with several layers of cloth and rubber bands, and let it ferment at room temperature for at least a week. Then remove the SCOBY and pour out about two cups to set aside for your next batch of starter tea. Let the rest of the tea sit at room temperature for another three days, and then serve.
If you need more reasons to try kombucha, read on for the best kombucha cocktail recipes.
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What The Hell Is In Kombucha, Anyway?
The low-down on the drink that’s got everyone talking, sipping, and probably burping.
Move over, juices, smoothies, and whatever else #healthyish people are drinking these days. You need to make room for kombucha. Whether you’re a total newbie or already all over it, here’s what you need to know.
So, What Exactly Is It?
Kombucha is an ancient Chinese fermented drink that is made from tea, sugar, and “SCOBY” (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). “Essentially, the bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY ferment the sugar in the tea, making the beverage slightly bubbly and giving it a funky, almost vinegary taste,” says Dr Christy Brisette.
If the sugar in the ingredients sets off a red flag, there’s no need to fear. Brisette says that most of the sugar is “eaten” by bacteria in the fermentation process, but to try to look for kombuchas that have five grams of sugar or less.
“The final product has plenty of probiotics and little sugar, but some companies do add a little fruit juice to flavour the kombucha,” she adds.
Kombucha is sold in both raw and pasteurised varieties. While the pasteurised version has the harmful bacteria filtered out, it does lose those sought-after good bacteria as well.
The raw varieties continue to ferment in the container, resulting in the formation of probiotics. This fermentation process produces alcohol, which is why some kombucha has a 21+ label.
Wild Saturday night, anyone?
The Benefits of Kombucha
Other than its bubbly, slightly sweet, and vinegary taste that sometimes makes you feel you’re drinking a cocktail, here are a few reasons to jump on the train.
1. Hello, healthy gut
Whether you to talk about it or not, having a regular digestive system is the ultimate sign of #healthy. What can help you get there? Probiotics. What has probiotics? Kombucha.
What’s even more interesting, though, is that several studies have found that this beverage acts as a symbiotic, meaning it contains a combination of prebiotics and probiotics. The prebiotics help feed the probiotics, so drinking a kombucha is being at the most exclusive gut bacteria party.
Scientists have even considered giving the booch to astronauts in outer space since their gut microflora might be wiped clean in their harsh living conditions.
2. Buh-bye, harmful microbes
We may be all about “good bacteria,” but it’s important to remember what came first—bad bacteria. The low pH of kombucha may help to block the growth of many microorganisms, especially those tied to food poisoning, E. Coli, salmonella, and Shigella.
3. Up the anti(oxidants)
Before kombucha becomes a fermented sparkly bev, it’s an antioxidant-rich tea.
It can be made from a variety of black and green teas that contain an antioxidant compound called EGCG, which has been shown to increase the number of kilojoules your body can burn.
And one study found that the fermentation process used to make kombucha may actually increase the antioxidant properties. Try: Remedy Kombucha, $4, which is made up from raw and certified organic ingredients and naturally brewed.
But Wait, It’s Not Perfect
There can be too much of a good thing. First, tea does contain caffeine, albeit less than coffee, but it might still give you a little buzz. If you’re avoiding caffeine for any reason, it’s best not to indulge in this bubbly drink.
“If you're new to kombucha, start by drinking 100mls a day and work your way up to 200mls a day to see how your digestive system responds,” Brisette says. Kroll also cautions against the sugar content in kombucha: “Most kombucha I've seen contains juice, so I tell my clients to drink 1/2 of the bottle to get the probiotics without too much sugar.”
Pregnant women or anyone with a compromised immune systems shouldn’t drink kombucha because there is potential for the bacteria to cause more harm than good. And in that same vein, children, the elderly, and anyone who has a compromised immune system should avoid unpasteurised products in general.
This story originally appeared on Greatist and is republished here with permission.
Kombucha – A Doctor Drinks a Glass
I had to drink my first kombucha for this post. Yes, I live in Austin.
I’m also a Gen-Xer who can be a little behind the times (did y’all hear Blockbuster closed?). So I’ll admit that I hadn’t drank “booch” until now. What did I think?
What is Kombucha & Where Is It From?
First things first, what’s kombucha and where did it come from? Ever heard of SCOBY? That’s short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” You ferment some tea with the SCOBY, and presto, you’ve got kombucha! It’s believed to have originated in China (or Russia depending on who you’re talking to), where it’s widely consumed.
No Definitive Proof
However, in 2003 and again in 2014, researchers could find no definitive proof that kombucha provided any of the purported clinical benefits. In fact, the authors of the former article went as far as to say that kombucha should not be recommended for therapeutic use, as it is in a class of “remedies that only seem to benefit those who sell them.” Solid burn, researchers.
Kombuch Provides Antioxidants
Then, a competing study booch-loving Latvia found that kombucha provides antioxidants, aids in detox, boosts energy, and boosts immunity. Slightly vague, but those sound good. So what to make of it?
How Kombucha Interacts with the Gut
There’s a lot of research right now into the gut microbiome. That’s the collection of bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms living in our gastrointestinal tract.
Medical researchers are just starting to understand how important the microbiome is in our immunity. It may be that things the probiotics in kombucha aid our microbiome in some way.
The discoveries of this research at this point, though, is a little me – behind the times.
Who Shouldn’t Drink Kombucha?
Should anyone not drink kombucha? It is not recommended for kids under 4 or if you are immunocompromised in any way. Remember, the SCOBY has bacteria in it. Pregnant and nursing women should talk to their doctor first.
Kombucha Has an Acquired Taste
So what did I think when the fizzy, vinegary drink touched my palate? “Not bad.” It’s an acquired taste, most fermented beverages (if you know what I mean).
And while it has some sugar in it, it’s definitely superior to grabbing a soda.
So while I can’t tell you there’s hard evidence that kombucha will turn your grays back to brown, it’s a pretty refreshing, tasty beverage that (may) even be good for you.
[References:Ernst E (2003). “Kombucha: a systematic review of the clinical evidence”. Forschende Komplementärmedizin und klassische Naturheilkunde. 10 (2): 85–87Jayabalan, Rasu (21 June 2014).
“A Review on Kombucha Tea—Microbiology, Composition, Fermentation, Beneficial Effects, Toxicity, and Tea Fungus”. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 13 (4): 538–550.
Vina, I (Feb2014).
“Current evidence on physiological activity and expected health effects of kombucha fermented beverage.” J Med Food. 2014 Feb;17(2):179-88.]
What the Heck Is Kombucha, Anyway?
In case you haven’t noticed, the beverage aisle at the grocery store has been taken over by a trendy, mysterious drink with a funny name: kombucha. While it may seem hot and new, this fizzy tea is actually older than you are. Centuries older.
The exact origin isn’t perfectly clear, but kombucha—pronounced /kahm ? BOO ? chah/—is typically attributed to the Manchurian region (which is today’s northeastern China), but kombucha also has ties to Japan, Korea, and Russia. Documents from the Qin Dynasty in China (which ran from 221 to 206 BCE) refer to something called “Immortality Tea” and “Long Life Elixir.” It’s suspected that these documents were referencing kombucha.
How Kombucha Is Made
Kombucha starts as any other sweet tea. Black or green tea is brewed and sugar is stirred in. Sounds normal, right?
That’s where things start to get a bit weird. Once cooled down, the tea is combined with a SCOBY, an acronym for the fungus that helps ferment the tea: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.
The SCOBY is a circular biofilm that is pale in color, has a fleshy texture, and is creepily squishy.
It’s similar to the “mother” that’s used to make vinegar (and in fact, kombucha tastes similar to a good-quality vinegar).
But the most important thing about the SCOBY is that it contains active cultures, which helps the tea ferment and gives kombucha its alleged probiotic content. (More on this later.)
Here’s how it works: The yeast in the SCOBY love the sugar in the brewed tea. They use this sugar to produce ethanol, which the SCOBY bacteria eat up to produce acetic acid (i.e. vinegar).
Because of this process, much of the sugar added during the brewing process gets “eaten up,” and the final drink ends up being more sour than sweet.
And yes, some kombucha has trace amounts of alcohol (but probably not enough to get you tipsy).
This fermentation process takes about one week, but the longer it ferments, the less sweet and more vinegary it gets. Then, it’s bottled. Because the bacteria and yeast burp up carbon dioxide, it naturally carbonates within a couple days, resulting in a slightly fizzy, effervescent drink.
You can drink kombucha straight, or you can add additional flavors during the bottling process. Anything goes, but common add-ins include citrus, ginger, apple, and berries. Spices cayenne and turmeric are also popular, and floral flavors rose and lavender are becoming more common.
Is Kombucha Actually Healthy?
Kombucha may have its reputation as an ancient elixir, but its health benefits are hotly contested. It’s true that kombucha contains active cultures (AKA “good” bacteria), similar to yogurt. For example, you can find one billion organisms of both Lactobacillus Bacterium and Saccharomyces Boulardii in one bottle of kombucha by GT’s Living Foods, a popular brand.
However, the controversy continues about whether consuming probiotics (whether in the form of kombucha, yogurt, or other probiotic-rich foods) actually helps the gut. The human gut naturally contains live microorganisms that aid in digestion, and some claim consuming probiotic-rich foods can help replenish that bacteria community, which could help keep digestion smooth.
Science has yet to prove that this actually works, at least for the general population. There’s one notable exception: Consuming probiotics *does* appear to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (Here are more things a gastroenterologist wants you to know about probiotics and gut health.)
Plus, there’s the sugar. To make kombucha more palatable to the modern consumer, many commercial brands tend to be high in sugar to mask the traditional, vinegar flavor.
While some bottles contain as little as 5 grams of sugar, others can soar to over 20 grams. In other words, it’s basically juice.
Keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends keeping added sugar to under 25 grams per day (for women) or 36 grams (for men).
most beverages with health claims (lookin’ at you, maple water), there’s nothing in kombucha that you can’t get from other food sources. If you it, drink it in moderation. If you don’t it, don’t worry: It’s probably not the “Immortality Tea” that it was hyped up to be.
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What is hard kombucha? Does it still have similar health benefits to regular kombucha? We answer all of your questions on this popular alcoholic drink here.
What Is Kombucha, Anyway?
Did you know that kombucha is actually an ancient beverage? This drink has been around for nearly 2,000 years, originating in China where it was first brewed and enjoyed. Over the years, kombucha gained status and popularity in the United States largely because of its potential health benefits, and delicious flavors.
The production process of kombucha is actually quite simple. The ingredients list is made up of several simple ingredients yeast, bacteria, sugar and tea.
These ingredients are mixed together and left to rest in a warm environment for a few weeks at a time.
During this time, the sweetened tea mixture is fermented, resulting in a slightly sweet and fizzy drink that can make you feel oh so refreshed!
Fun fact: even though kombucha has zero mushrooms in it and has nothing to do with mushrooms, it is sometimes called “mushroom tea.” So why does it have this nickname?
“Mushroom tea” is actually a loose translation of the bacteria involved in kombucha fermentation. A more accurate translation would be “red bacteria tea”, or even “red mold tea.
” This is because all kombucha is fermented by a colony of bacteria and yeast called S.C.O.B.Y (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast).
You might have heard of this process before because fermentation is also what converts cabbage into kimchi and milk into yogurt.
What? Kombucha Is An Alcoholic Drink?
Not really, at least not traditional kombucha.
But, you might have heard that regular kombucha has a trace of alcohol produced during the fermentation process.
The alcohol content in most kombucha drinks is less than 0.5 percent and therefore not enough for you to feel its effects. That’s why most kombucha is categorized as a non-alcoholic beverage.
However, some brands Wild Tonic Jun Kombucha and KYLA Hard Kombucha add additional sugar and other strains of yeast for additional rounds of fermentation. During this time, the sugar is further fermented for the next 10-14 days. At the end of this process, the alcohol level can hike up to 4.5-7 percent ABV!
So no, regular kombucha is not an alcoholic beverage, but hard kombucha is intentionally brewed to be alcoholic.
What Is In Hard Kombucha?
Just regular kombucha, hard kombucha is made of simple ingredients yeast, bacteria, sugar and tea.
The main difference between regular kombucha and high alcohol kombucha is the amount of added sugar, type of yeast, and the length of the fermentation process.
While commercial kombucha only needs one or two rounds of fermentation, hard kombucha may require more. It is during the later rounds of fermentation that companies add more sugar and yeast to further ferment the beverage and increase the alcohol content. The alcohol content in hard kombucha is typically equal to that in a beer (some as light as lagers, some as high alcohol as craft IPAs).
Is Hard Kombucha a Beer?
Hard Kombucha is NOT a beer due to its origin and type of fermentation. Kombucha is made from tea leaves, while beer is made from wheat.
However, the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) defines high alcohol kombucha as beer and requires some companies, KYLA Hard Kombucha, to put the word “beer” on the labels.
Can We Replace Beer With Hard Kombucha?
Nope, alcoholic kombucha is not beer.
But if you’re looking for an alternative to beer to spice things up or if you are gluten sensitive, hard kombucha is a delicious choice!
Is Hard Kombucha Better For You Than Other Alcoholic Drinks?
Not necessarily, though many people report they feel better drinking kombucha with higher alcohol than they do when they drink beer, wine, or cocktails.
Consider the comparison below:
So yes, alcoholic kombucha may have lower calories and less sugar than other alcoholic drinks.
As consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious, American beer companies Coors and Anheuser-Busch are looking for ways to cater to this new drinking mindset and make more health-oriented alcoholic drinks.
Are There Probiotics In Hard Kombucha?
Considering the fact that hard kombucha has a higher alcohol content, people wonder if the alcohol would kill the probiotics, which are the “good” bacteria and yeasts.
Holly Lyman, founder of Wild Tonic which brews 5.6 – 7.6 percent kombucha, says, “Probiotics don’t alcohol, period. We don’t pretend to have any probiotics in our high-alcohol [kombucha] because alcohol killed them.”
So Is Hard Kombucha Actually Healthy, Though?
It’s hard to say, but hard kombucha is still fermented from tea.
As a result, it is ly to have some similar benefits to those of regular kombucha, which contains many bioactive compounds such as polyphenols. However, hard kombucha should not be viewed as a health beverage, and you won’t be getting the useful probiotics you find in Health-Ade Kombucha.
Who Should Not Drink Hard Kombucha?
Because hard kombucha is an alcoholic drink, it is illegal to consume this beverage in the United States if you’re under 21. Expectant moms should not drink hard kombucha due to the high alcohol content.
The Bottom Line On Hard Kombucha
Although there is little evidence to support the health benefits of hard kombucha, it is still growing in popularity due to consumers' increasing awareness of healthier diets and interest in kombucha.