Whether your on-the-go tea infuser is a daily part of your routine or you’re more of a coffee person, you’ve probably seen kombucha in the hands of your healthiest friends, or in an artful Instagram photo from a local food blogger. It’s exploded in popularity lately, but just what is kombucha, and why are people so into it?
Kombucha: How do I even pronounce it?
Don’t worry, it’s pretty straightforward: kom-boo-cha. And actually, kombucha is as easy to understand as it is to pronounce. It’s a fermented, sweetened black or green tea that you typically drink chilled (perfect for a stainless steel travel mug that will keep it cold for hours). Kombucha originated in China some 5,000 years ago, and from there made its way to Japan, Russia, Eastern Europe, and finally, the U.S. It’s a little sweet, a little sour, and a little fizzy. Different varieties can have different flavor profiles, from fruity to floral to spicy — kind of like how a brewery has different varieties of beer.
Speaking of beer, yes, kombucha is fermented — so it’s technically got an alcohol content of less than 1%. That’s tiny enough that you’ll be fine to drive after a bottle of kombucha (just avoid drinking several glasses one after the other).
What’s all the health buzz about?
Kombucha fans rave about the health benefits of kombucha, saying its many probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, and beneficial acids support some of the body’s most important functions, such as:
- Liver detoxification
- Pancreas function
- Immune system
- Increased energy
- Nutrient assimilation
- Weight loss
Important to note: there’s no concrete, definitive research stating that kombucha definitely improves these things. At this time, it’s all anecdotal evidence. Talk to your doctor specifically about kombucha and realize that it’s not a silver bullet for everything that ails you.
How do I get my hands on this stuff?
Curious about adding kombucha to your vacuum insulated stainless steel travel mug? You can pick up a bottle at most grocery stores; Whole Foods has an especially big variety. GT’s Kombucha is the biggest name in commercial kombucha, and you can also explore kombucha flavors from Health-Ade, Humm, Better Booch, and Curly Wolf.
Feeling ambitious? Yes, you can home-brew kombucha. Make sure you’re brewing in a sterile environment (always important in cooking, but especially important when there’s a lot of bacteria floating around that could get contaminated). Follow the directions, pay attention to what you’re doing, and use common sense (advice that’s applicable to more than just home-brewing kombucha).