Recently a new tart, sour, bubbly drink called Kombucha has been all the rave. This drink that resembles cider has been claimed to have many health and possibly curative properties.
History of Kombucha
Kombucha has been around for centuries, but just recently has it become a health fad.
Originally named Manchuria, kombucha is an ancient Chinese beverage. Kombucha was named after Dr. Kombu who took this fermented tea to Japan to aid in digestive issues (1). Now kombucha is in every health food store around the country. The brand GT’s kombucha was the first commercial kombucha beverage in the food industry and it is the largest kombucha brand in the market today. GTs kombucha contains bacteria culture, black and green tea, fresh juices and 100% pure love!
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented black or green tea with live acetic bacteria and yeast. Kombucha is made by boiling water, adding tea bags and sugar, and then adding SCOBY. SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY sits in the tea for a couple of weeks. SCOBY is a cellulose platform that consumes the sugar in the tea and replaces it with bacteria and yeasts that produce acid and ethanol. Also known as “the mother” or “mushroom” SCOBY initiates fermentation of the tea in an anaerobic environment.
The main health benefit for kombucha is that it is full of probiotics. According to the World Health Organizations probiotics are “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” It is good to have a mixture of bacteria in the gut, and probiotics helps diversify the bacteria. Probiotics are common in the dairy and yogurt industry. If you are making kombucha at home, probiotics are provided by the addition of SCOBY (1).
Prebiotics are different from probiotics in that they are not live bacteria. Prebiotics promote the growth of the bacteria already present in the gut. The prebiotics in kombucha are provided by the cellulose in the SCOBY. Prebiotics yield short chain fatty acids such as butyrate that is involved in stimulating the gut microbiota.
Kombucha is plentiful in B vitamins. Some of the B vitamins present in kombucha are riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12.
Because kombucha is a fermented product it does contain a little bit of alcohol, about less than 1%. Kombucha beer can be produced if the kombucha is allowed to ferment longer and not pasteurized.
Now that kombucha is a leading drink in the beverage industry many companies are beginning to produce kombucha. Some grocery stores even created their own brand of kombucha tea. With health awareness increasing, Pepsi recently bought Kevita, a kombucha company. Kombucha is now being called a functional beverage because it is full of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, kombucha has many health benefiting properties. Overall, the future for kombucha is strong and expected to grow.
1. Jayabalan R, Malbaša RV, Lončar ES, Vitas JS, Sathishkumar M. A Review on Kombucha Tea—Microbiology, Composition, Fermentation, Beneficial Effects, Toxicity, and Tea Fungus. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2014;13(4):538-550. doi:10.1111/1541-4337.12073.
2. N. O. Kozyrovska, O. M. Reva, V. B. Goginyan , J.-P. de Vera, Kombucha microbiome as a probiotic: a view from the perspective of post-genomics and synthetic ecology. Biopolymers and Cell. 2012;28(2):103-113.
3. Our Story. GT’s Living Foods. December 2016. http://gtslivingfoods.com/our-story/. Accessed October 24, 2017.