Whoever thought that a strange mushroom could help bring balance to your health? Kombucha is one of my favorite raw, organic “treat” beverages. This drink is fizzy, tart, and fruity, and it’s health benefits are just as great as the taste! Whenever I make a trip to the grocery store, I help myself to one of these amazing soda-replacements!
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage, made from both bacteria and yeast. The bacteria ferment in the presence of the yeast, forming a “mushroom”, which produces a variety of acids and a very small amount of alcohol (less than 1%).
The beverage has been around for over 2000 years in eastern Asia, and is more traditionally from 19th century Russia, and referred to as kvass. It was commonly thought of as somewhat of a health tonic.
More recently, a few companies have taken to bottling the tea, typically flavored with fruit juice. It can be found in most health food stores, and even in some health-friendly grocery stores, such as Fred Meyer/Kroger and some Safeways.
Why Should I Drink Kombucha?
It has a great fizzy, fruity taste, that easily replaces soda for me. The biggest difference? A bottle of kombucha only has 8 grams of sugar and 60 calories, whereas the same size cola has 52 grams of sugar and 200 calories!
Kombucha has the opposite effect on your body as soda, in that it creates alkalinity, instead of acidity. I’ve talked a little bit about alkalinity on the blog before. Creating an alkaline environment in the body produces a generally healthful state. Your body pH (about 7.4) is slightly higher than neutral (7). When you eat junk, don’t stay active, or stress out, your body becomes more acidic. Treating yourself right will keep your pH where it needs to be, and ingesting certain items, such as dark greens or kombucha, have a very alkalizing effect. When your body is in balance, it will perform better, you will be sick less, and you will be less prone to chronic diseases.
Another benefit of kombucha is that it is a natural source of B-vitamins, including B-12. Vegan forms of vitamin B-12 are rare and are mostly limited to algaes, nutritional yeast, and some fermented products, like kombucha. A bottle of the tea contains 20% of your vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12 requirement, and 25% of your folic acid requirement.
Probably the main reason that kombucha is considered healthful, is that it is a wonderful source of probiotics, similar to those in yogurt. GT’s Kombucha contains over 1 billion strains of Lactobacillus bacterium and S. boulardi bacteria. These “good” bacteria will take up residence in your gut, taking up space and food that might otherwise be used by harmful organisms, helping your immunity. Probiotics are also known to aid with digestional problems as well, so if you suffer from IBS, or some other such problem, kombucha can be extra helpful!
With an array of delightful flavors, like cranberry, strawberry, guava, mango, Passionberry, Gingerberry, and Trilogy (a combo of raspberry, lemon, and ginger), you’re bound to find one that you enjoy! Personally, my favorite would probably be Trilogy, which was actually the first flavor of kombucha that I ever tried. Just a tip: Don’t inhale through your nose directly before drinking. The taste is amazing, but the vinegary smell produced by the tea can be a bit overwhelming. Please don’t let the smell turn you off from kombucha, though! I promise it’s good!
Can I Make My Own Kombucha?
Yes, you can! It involves getting your hands on your own kombucha “mushroom” to grow at home. I’ve never tried it because it scares me a bit, but if you’re interested here’s a how-to guide to homemade kombucha!
Go pick up a bottle and check it out for yourself!