Quench Your Thirst and Boost Your Health with Kombucha
If you’ve ever casually browsed the refrigerated section at a health food store or your local supermarket, you’ve almost certainly noticed bottles of kombucha. You might have even seen them mentioned on the cover of your favorite health and wellness magazine, teasing your curiosity even further. But what’s the actual benefit to the drink?
Rest assured, even if you know next to nothing about kombucha, you’ll soon know the basics, including exactly what’s needed to make it at home.
What Is Kombucha and Why Should You Care?
People in ancient China referred to kombucha as the “immortal health elixir,” but what exactly is it? Kombucha is a type of sweetened tea that has been fermented by both bacteria and yeast. Although it has been consumed in some parts of the world for more than two thousand years, the drink didn’t gain popularity in the West until recently.
Although scientists in countries like Russia and Germany have done research on kombucha’s benefits, the beverage is still not considered notable enough to earn acclaim from some mainstream healthcare providers. Despite this lack of broad appeal, devotees of the beverage drink kombucha because they believe it causes health benefits such as:
- The ability to prevent or lessen arthritis symptoms, thanks to ingredients called glucosamines
- Improved digestion, since kombucha is a probiotic drink
- A strengthened immune system, due to kombucha’s high antioxidant content
Because there have not yet been many large studies about the efficacy of kombucha, especially in the West, you may just want to try drinking it for a short period to see if you notice positive effects. Of course, you might end up drinking it because it’s just plain delicious.
Choosing the Correct Type of Tea
Store shelves are often packed from front to back with nearly every type of tea imaginable. But, they’re not all appropriate for kombucha. Historically, the beverage was mostly made with black tea. Today, most types of kombucha include blends of green and black teas. Many people who regularly make or consume kombucha say they steer clear of flavored and herbal teas, because those don’t often result in the most potent, healthiest mixtures.
If you’re a big fan of flavored tea and don’t think you could stomach something plain, many kombucha manufacturers sell flavored options that claim to have all the health benefits provided by a plain version of the beverage.
My personal favorite store brand is GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha.
Make Your Own Kombucha
Once you’ve developed a taste for kombucha and want to make your own kombucha, it’s a good idea to go to a health food retailer in your community and see if someone there can offer tips for making your first batches. Brewing generally involves a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (called a SCOBY), loose or bagged tea, sugar and a strainer.
Depending on the temperature of the environment where you’re brewing it, the fermentation process should take about two weeks. That time frame usually shortens as temperatures climb. Getting the SCOBY might seem like the trickiest part, but once word of your interest spreads to others in your area who make kombucha, you should be able to connect with them and get one. You can also buy a SCOBY online on Amazon.
Now that you know the basics about its benefits and how to make your own kombucha, maybe you’ll feel more adventurous about giving it a try. Regardless of whether you experience health benefits, it’s almost always interesting to treat your taste buds to new and healthy beverages.