What the heck is Kombucha, and should you be drinking it?
You may or may not have heard of Kombucha, and whether or not you have formed an opinion I thought I would shed some light on it. I too was very skeptical when I first heard about it, and even more skeptical when I heard it involved something called a "scoby". I decided to try it and discovered there were in fact many flavors that I liked, as well as some I that didn't care for. It quickly became normal for me to drink kombucha, until I brought it to a family function and they all spent the better part of 15 minutes passing it around to taste it, making funny faces, and then proclaiming I must be crazy. Gotta love family right?! haha. Well I certainly love mine, and no hard feelings that they didn't love it; it's not for everyone. But is it for you? Well, read on....
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage with a slightly effervescent quality. These days you can find many brands and flavors in grocery stores, and many people enjoy making it themselves as well. Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea using a "symbiotic 'colony' of bacteria and yeast" called a "scoby"... I know it sounds weird, and it looks even weirder, but it is effective and necessary to the production process. Though the exact time in history that home brewers began creating Kombucha is uncertain, it has been available in retail and grocery stores for the last 20 years...and really started making its big, effervescent splash in the last 10 years.
What are the Benefits?
Kombucha has been promoted with many claims that it can treat a wide variety of illnesses, though many of these claims are still under research and yet to be proven. On a less dramatic scale, Kombucha does appear to have positive probiotic qualities to help with digestion, healthy gut bacteria, and boosted energy levels. If you look closely at a Kombucha beverage you will see particles floating around in it that are called "live cultures" these are the living probiotics that you see that can offer health benefits. Probiotics are a healthy aid to your gut to help ensure your good bacteria levels are high and your bad bacteria is killed off or kept under control. The bad bacteria in your gut feeds off of sugar and starchy carbs and can manifest quickly into unsavory digestive symptoms, or even full blown immune problems. Though Kombucha hasn't been proven to cure diseases, I see it as a good disease-prevention tool.
What to Expect?
Feeling brave and ready to go do some Kombucha sampling? Here are a few things to keep in mind. Most people won't notice any significant side effects after drinking it, after all it feels similar to drinking sparkling water, soda or tea, but just in case it is best to consume Kombucha in small amounts, like 6-8oz at a time. The effervescent quality can be tasty, but it can also cause bloating if you drink an entire bottle too quickly. For some who may struggle with constipation issues, Kombucha could potentially "shake things loose" so best to be near a bathroom the first time you try it.
The vast flavor options can be a bit overwhelming, so starting with the original flavor, or a tropical variation, would be my recommendation. Some Kombucha brands are labeled that it may contain "trace amounts of alcohol" due to their fermentation process; it's really nothing to be concerned about unless you have religious or personal beliefs that would steer you away from those particular ones. There are also some that have fruit puree or chia seeds in them for extra protein and fiber; some people dislike the somewhat slimy texture, others however find it fun and delicious. All up to you to figure out what you like... and I think it's a fun process!
I hope this enlightens you to go out and give it a whirl; share with us what your favorite flavor ends up being... my favorites are Citrus, Gingerade and Trilogy!