This post is for you Kerri….
Kombucha (pronounced kom -booch-a) is a fermented tea.
It is made by first brewing tea, adding sugar and then adding Kombucha cultures. The culture is usally called a starter, a scoby, the mother or a mushroom. The latter name is confusing, as the scoby is not just a fungus, it is a combination of bacteria and yeast. And, as we all learned in 9th grade biology, mushroom and yeast sit comfortably in the kingdom Fungi, while bacteria are in the ever name- changing prokaryotic kingdom. In order to increase your chances of winning Natural Foods Jeopardy, commit to memory that ‘scoby’ stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. I’ll take Whole Foods Acronyms for $500 Alex…..
A scoby - photo source
As the ingredients infuse and ferment, most of the sugar is digested and broken down by the Kombucha cultures and converted into billions of probiotic acids (lactobacillus bacteria), digestible enzymes, B vitamins and minerals. These “good” lactobacillus bacteria are the same found in yogurt. They repopulate the intestine and may protect the digestive and immune systems from the harmful effects of bad bacteria, thereby supporting the body’s defences.
So – in goes tea leaves, water, sugar and a scoby and 7-10 days later, out comes a bubbly, fermented beverage that is slightly sweet, tart and has a faint taste of vinegar with a much larger scoby (see above picture). After the primary fermentation, the kombucha can either be consumed or further fermented with fruit juices and spices in order to make flavored kombucha.
Some claim that kombucha can cure cancer, increase energy, improve focus and detox the liver. Others say there aren’t published studies supporting any claims. Since I got an A in 9th grade biology (and know the difference in an eukaryote and prokaryote), I can confidently say that I think fermented foods are good for you and that kombucha tastes good. That’s enough for me. I actually find that it does give me more energy, but it very well could be all in my mind. Which means I’ll keep drinking it as long as I can play mind games with myself. I can not see any reason not to drink kombucha (besides the price, which is why I’ve started making my own), so consider me a loyal fan. I’ve been drinking Kombucha since before I even knew about the healthy living food blog world, therefore I can’t be accused of following the trend on this one. Chia seeds, socca and overnight oats, yes. Kombucha, no.
Kombucha can be purchased at most health food stores and it becoming pretty common in regular grocery stores, especially those with a decent natural/whole foods section. My local store (HEB) carries several flavors in the natural foods section in the cooler by the refrigerated oils and probiotics. It tends to be priced between $2.50 and $3.50 a bottle, so it’s not exactly cheap. The brand I see most often is GT and they have a large number of flavors. My favorites are as follows:
GT Kombucha Synergy Trilogy
GT Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha Gingerade
Buddha’s Brew Cranberry (made in Austin, TX, so it’s local for me!)
Next week I’ll post a Kombucha 201 post with instructions for making it yourself. I’m on my third batch, so I’m pretty much an expert. Please tell me you caught the sarcasm….
Some good reads:
Food Renegade: Health Benefits of Kombucha
Are you a kombucha fan? What, if any, benefits do you experience from drinking it?