Author: Lacy Davidson, MS, RDN, LD, CDE, RYT
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Registered Yoga Teacher
Chances are, unless you’re one of those new age hippies, err hipsters who’ve been sipping or maybe even home brewing SCOBY cocktails for the past few years, you may be wondering, what’s with all the buzz about Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha, translated ‘black tea mushroom’, is actually not a mushroom at all, but a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) allowed to ferment in a vat of typically, sweetened black or green tea. I know… yum, right? While this sort of new drink has been crawling across the nation since its first commercial bottling in California nearly 25 years ago, it’s actually been consumed around the world for over 5000 years!
Kombucha ‘mushroom’ making its tea SOURCE: blogilates.com
With roots in China and Japan, people have taken to drinking Kombucha for a myriad of reasons. From is proposed detoxifying and energizing benefits to its suggested ability to aid in digestion, Kombucha Tea drinkers swear by their daily brew.
While the science is lacking to support any true health benefits, there is no shortage of testimonials expressing what all this magic elixir can ‘cure’. Home brewers and commercially bottled beverage fans alike have made claims of being healed from diseases such as cancer and AIDS to a faster recovery from a belly ache or common cold.
While the jury is still out on if these health claims hold any weight, it is possible the health benefits experienced by regular drinker could be due in part to the chemistry of the cocktail.
Yeasts present in the SCOBY create alcohols which are fermented by the bacteria (think probiotic) into various organic acids (apple cider vinegar anyone?). The mixture also contains energy producing B-vitamins and immune system boosting vitamin C. Because Kombucha is grown in brewed tea, the drink is also caffeine containing, which can impart its own energy buzz. Not to mention it’s a ‘mostly water’ beverage (Yay!) with most brews containing a few trace electrolytes and not too much sugar which we really like. Several commercial brands have even started ‘enhancing’ their brews with chia seeds to up the omega 3 content for brain, heart and joint health benefits and adding functional food ingredients like turmeric and ginger to prevent aging and disease.
GT Brand Kombucha Tea – Industry market leader SOURCE: http://synergydrinks.com/
We’re not totally convinced it’s the ‘Immortal Health Elixir’ as some might describe, but we’re also not opposed to sipping it from time to time either. Locally, you can find a prepared Kombucha Tea drink at Healthy Life Market and other health food stores in our area.
We haven’t found any local brewers yet, but if you’re out there, give us a heads up! Tell us your experience with Kombucha Tea. Are you a member of the Kombucha Kult or just waiting on this fad to fade?