My first sip of kombucha was honestly more delicious than I expected. It tastes like peach tea mixed with extremely tart green apples. Kombucha has a refreshing sourness, slight sweetness and just enough fizz to tickle your nose. What exactly is this drink popping up around coffee shops and store shelves?
Kombucha: A Tangy and Tasty Tea
Kombucha is a tangy, fermented tea. According to tradition, this exotic drink originated somewhere in Japan or China. People in Asia have been drinking it on a daily basis for thousands of years.
Kombucha is made using black or green tea leaves, but it’s not prepared like any tea you’ve ever seen. After boiling the leaves with lots of sugar for several hours, a special combination of yeast and good bacteria called a SCOBY is added.
This makes the tea ferment, similar to what happens to grapes as they turn into wine. This process changes the flavor of the tea and adds certain beneficial health properties.
The Benefits of Kombucha Tea
So far, what we know for sure is that kombucha is packed with probiotics — healthy bacteria for your gut. That means that drinking kombucha tea may offer similar benefits to eating yogurt. Probiotics help to improve your digestive health, restoring your intestinal flora and taking great care of your immune system.
Also, kombucha has tons of antioxidants since it comes from green tea leaves. These natural compounds protect all of your cells and especially your heart. Antioxidants in kombucha can reduce bad cholesterol levels and help you balance your blood sugar. Some studies suggest that kombucha can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 30%, in addition to helping your liver and kidneys. Here are a few other possible benefits:
You know how doctors and scientists can be when it comes to the health benefits of anything natural. They won’t say that something is beneficial unless they do TONS of studies to prove it 100%. In the case of kombucha, not all health professionals are convinced, though there are countless testimonials from people who drink the tea regularly.
Should You Make Kombucha Tea at Home?
If a friend of mine offered me some homemade kombucha, I probably wouldn’t accept it (unless it’s someone who has been brewing it for ages as a family tradition). Experts don’t recommend making your own kombucha because of the potential for contamination. If any bad bacteria get mixed in with the good, it can lead to stomach infections or worse.
Store-bought brands are perfectly safe, however. Of course, you may want to start slow if you have a sensitive stomach. Keep in mind that kombucha tea can have some alcohol from the fermentation process.
The Bottom Line
I’m a fan of kombucha. I think it shows a lot of promise and it tastes refreshing. You can even choose kombucha tea made with extra natural ingredients, including ginger, basil, coconut, strawberries, almonds and cherries. Of course, I check the label and choose varieties that are low in sugar.
My advice? Try kombucha for yourself. You know your body, and you can see if you feel healthier after a few months drinking this energizing, antioxidant-rich tea with a probiotic kick.