Everyone’s drinking it, many are making it themselves and in 2018 it has well and truly become a drink of mainstream choice with rows of bottles available in every supermarket fridge as well as the specialty and health stores of old. Here’s why:
Tangy, fermented kombucha is packed with beneficial probiotics and acids. It also has a lower calorie count than other carbonated drinks
The nutrients contained in kombucha can help promote health in various ways, supporting liver detoxification, supporting pancreas function, increasing energy, supporting digestion, supporting mood, supporting nutrient assimilation. These benefits may be due to the beneficial enzymes and acids present in kombucha, including Gluconacetobacter, Lactobacillus and Zygosaccharomyces. Kombucha tea is also high in Glucaric acid, which is beneficial to the liver and aids its natural detoxification.
Naturally high in antioxidants and supportive of the immune system, kombucha contains a compound called D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (or DSL for short) and this has high antioxidant properties. This compound is not present in unfermented teas (though many teas are high in other antioxidants). DSL has been specifically identified as beneficial for cellular detoxification.
Here’s the ‘star line up’ – Kombucha contains: Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086: S. Boulardii: EGCG: Glucuronic Acid: L(+) Lactic Acid and Acetic Acid. There is an abundance of anecdotal evidence supporting the benefits of kombucha, but clinical studies have not yet been conducted.
Kombucha is a safe and enjoyable health tonic for most, but It is wise to be aware of the potential risks and side effects for some. Pregnant and nursing mothers and anyone with a medical condition should check with a doctor before drinking kombucha regularly.
It also contains both caffeine and sugar, which should be avoided in some cases and limited sensibly by all, so don’t drink it by the litre.
Some people experience bloating from drinking kombucha. This may be partly due to the presence of probiotics and potential changes in gut bacteria. Anyone with a digestive disorder should try kefir before introducing kombucha as a therapeutic fermented drink. Kefir is bacterial based and does not contain the yeast or added sugar of kombucha.
If kombucha is made incorrectly, it may contain harmful bacteria and could be dangerous or overly acidic. This is rare with commercial brands and expert brewers, but may be a risk with home brews.
Some of our favourite and most trusted local brews are ‘Organic Mechanic’ and ‘Rene’s Kombucha’. Wise Cicada was the first retail outlet to sell these brands in New Zealand and we know and trust the brewers personally. They have done an outstanding job creating their high quality commercial kombucha lines, forging the new and burgeoning kombucha industry right from a true artisanal beginning at ‘grass roots’ level.
The base for kombucha is black or green tea and some may have concerns about its caffeine content. The amount of caffeine in kombucha varies according to the type of tea used and the steep time. In general, kombucha has less caffeine than Coca Cola or coffee. Caffeine content also decreases during fermentation, so the longer the ferment, the less caffeine is typically left in the brew.
Some may be concerned about the sugar content in kombucha, fortunately the majority of the sugar ferments out during the fermentation process. The sugar is the food for the bacteria, so it is not possible to make kombucha without any sugar at all, but many brands add stevia instead of sugar to balance the flavour at the final stage.
Kombucha contains a very small amount of alcohol, retail brands contain under 0.5%. You can check the nutrition panels to compare brands. For example, a bottle of kombucha would have a comparable alcohol content to an over-ripe banana. However, if you are alcohol sensitive or serving it to children it is good to be aware.