Kombucha: What Is It?

Kombucha is being talked about all over the world, but what is this fermented drink?

The reinvented health drink, Kombucha, is paving the way for new and improved approaches to gut health.

Kombucha originates from Ancient China where it was traditionally known as the “tea of immorality”. It travelled through Russia, Eastern Europe and Japan for many centuries. The name Kombucha is said to have originated from Japan during 415 AD. Legend has it, a Korean physician named Kombu healed the emperor Inyko with this tea. The fermented drink then took on his name, “Kombu”, and “cha” meaning tea.

Today it is relatively new to the mainstream western world. It’s recent surge in popularity seems to be due to our increasing awareness of gut health.

So, what is it?

Kombucha is a fermented and sweetened tea, generally made with either a black or green tea base. Kombucha’s fermentation process, with sugar, yeast and live bacteria is what distinguishes this beverage.

It is an excellent source of probiotics, aids digestion and can detoxify the body.

What about the sugar?

A fascinating feature of Kombucha, is the processing of its sugar. A standard Kombucha includes sugar in its recipe. This sugar is then later consumed by the yeast and bacteria during the fermentation process. When processed this way, Kombucha is left with very little, if any, sugar content. This makes Kombucha a great alternative when looking to cut kilojoules and reduce the harmful effects associated with a high sugar intake.

Are all Kombuchas the same?

Despite carrying the same name, not all kombucha products are created equal. For this reason, it is important to be wary when purchasing kombucha products. The formation of Kombucha is yet to be standardised. This means Kombucha products can vary greatly across the market, potentially side-stepping various health benefits associated with its traditional recipe.

To ensure Kombucha is of the highest quality, look for the following:

  • The packaging. Look for a glass bottle, fermenting in plastic or stainless steel can lead to leaching and impact the overall taste and benefits of Kombucha.
  • Scoby content. Scoby refers to the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. A good way to check for this, is to look out for any floating bits inside the bottle.
  • Added sugars. Be wary of any sugars which have been added outside of the fermentation process. As a general rule of thumb, Kombucha should not contain anymore than 3-4g of sugar on its nutrition labelling.
  • Naturally fermented and 100% raw. These details should be indicated on the bottle.

American health expert, Dr. Taz Bhatia, recommends consuming Kombucha in the middle of the day before meals to aid digestion. This will also maximize the amount of healthy bacteria making its way to the large intestine.

Kombucha is now being offered as an alternative to soft drinks at bars, which reduces sugar, as long as you are drinking a low sugar product. This vinegary drink can be considered as a valuable player in the dieting game, as it is full of healthy probiotics, minerals and is generally low in calories.





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