With the rise of health consciousness, especially due to COVID-19, there has been a surge in the popularity of kombucha. But if you have never had it before, it can be easy to get lost in the sea of information that exists. To help you better understand what is kombucha, and is it right for you, we will answer 11 of the most common questions.
No. 1: What is Kombucha and How is it Made?
Kombucha is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast called a SCOBY floating in a brew of tea and sugar. The yeast eats the sugar and then create alcohol and Co2. Then ethanol is created by the bacteria and turned into aesthetic acid. Finally, the result is a vinegary, alcoholic brew. If you leave it out long enough, it will become alcohol. If you leave it out longer than that, it will eventually become vinegar.
Kombucha has gained a lot of attention due to the health benefits. It can also be called kombucha tea. People often add juice, spices, fruit, and other flavorings to enhance the taste of the beverage.
No. 2: Who Invented Kombucha and Where is it From?
Kombucha may be a recent beverage trend, but it has been around for thousands of years. According to Brew Dr. Kombucha, it has been documented as early as 221 B.C. in China, Japan, and other parts of Europe. The process of fermentation goes back 9,000-plus years to ancient China and was used mainly to create alcoholic beverages.
No. 3: Is Kombucha Good for You?
Drinking kombucha has been associated with some positive health effects. This includes reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It also helps with the reduction of cancer propagation and improves the immune system, liver, and gastrointestinal functions. This scientific study shows that drinking fermented beverages like kombucha can also contribute to positive mental health.
The concentration of the drink’s active ingredients will vary depending on the SCOBY and how it was made. More research is needed to confirm all benefits, but there has been enough to believe that it does help.
It also contains several species of lactic-acid bacteria that may have a probiotic-like function and provide your gut with healthy bacteria. These bacteria can improve many aspects of health, including digestion, inflammation, and even weight loss. Because kombucha contains green tea it may also offer many of the same health benefits as green tea itself, such as weight loss and blood sugar control.
Research shows that kombucha might help protect against cancer, manage type 2 diabetes, and prevent heart disease, based on some of the active ingredients. But again, more research is needed to back these claims.
No. 4: Can Kombucha Go Bad?
Kombucha lasts for months in the refrigerator and ferments at a slow rate while it is in there. The fizz starts to go away over time, but it will retain its health benefits. When kombucha ages, it becomes tart-flavored and vinegar-like. You can use it as a vinegar substitute once it loses its flavor. You can learn more about how to tell if it’s good to drink here.
No. 5: When Do You Drink Kombucha?
There’s not a specific time of day to drink kombucha. Of course, there is a small amount of alcohol and caffeine content, which is something you should consider if you are sensitive to either of those. Other than that, it’s up to you to decide. There’s no specific time of day or meals that kombucha traditionally goes with.
No. 6: Can Kombucha Get You Drunk? How Much Alcohol Does Kombucha Contain?
Kombucha does contain some alcohol based on the process of its fermentation. It doesn’t produce a lot of alcohol, but enough to mention. According to Brew Dr. Kombucha, manufacturers have to make sure that the alcohol levels don’t exceed the 0.5 percent threshold to be considered non-alcoholic. For reference, a popular hard seltzer is 3.7 percent alcohol by volume. So, it would hypothetically take 8 times the amount of Kombucha to reach the alcohol content of one hard seltzer.
There are some manufacturers that heat their brews to burn off the extra alcohol content, but this will also kill off the beneficial bacteria that is produced during fermentation.
No. 7: Can I Drink Kombucha While Pregnant?
There are a few concerns with drinking Kombucha while pregnant, but the best answer would be to talk to your doctor about it first.
The first issue is that there are some harmful bacteria that can be introduced during the fermentation process. This isn’t much of a concern for commercial manufacturers, who have to abide by strict sterilization, brewing, and sanitation processes. This could be a problem for home-brewed kombucha, however.
The second concern is that it does contain alcohol as mentioned above. While kombucha has a small amount of alcohol, doctors advise against any consumption of alcohol while pregnant.
Kombucha also contains caffeine. Some studies show that drinking caffeine during pregnancy is safe and has a limited-to-no effect. But other studies show that increased consumption of caffeine may be related to detrimental effects that include miscarriage, low birth rate, and premature birth.
No. 8: What Are Some of the Potential Side Effects of Kombucha?
According to the MayoClinic, “There have been reports of adverse side effects with drinking a lot of Kombucha. These include stomach upset, infections, and allergic reactions. Kombucha tea is often brewed in homes under nonsterile conditions, making contamination likely.”
This could potentially get you sick.
It’s important to be cautious when brewing your own kombucha at home. You want to make sure that you follow proper instructions and are able to maintain a sterile clean environment to brew it.
No. 9: What Are Some Common Kombucha Recipes?
Some common flavors for Kombucha include pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon, lemon ginger, pineapple basil, strawberry, mango, blueberry, raspberry, mint lime mojito, and more. Check out this article for several different kinds of Kombucha flavors that you can make.
No. 10: How much Kombucha should I drink per day?
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, “Drinking this tea in quantities typically consumed (approximately 4 oz daily) may not cause adverse effects in healthy persons. However, the potential health risks are unknown for those with preexisting health problems or those who drink excessive quantities.”
Too much Kombucha can also lead to excess calorie consumption, bloating, gas, and diarrhea for some people. It also can lead to sleep disruption due to the caffeine content and if high in sugar content, can be bad for you. Because many drinks are sweetened with fruit juice or cane sugar, you will want to make sure that you choose a brand with a low sugar count, and around 50 calories per serving. Like many things in life, it’s all about balance and not overdoing it.
No. 11: What Are Some of the Top Brands of Kombucha and Where Can I Buy Them?
Some of the more popular brands of kombucha include GTS Living, Health-Ade Kombucha, Better Booch Kombucha, Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha, Humm Kombucha, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Wild Kombucha, Forage Kombucha, Kosmic Kombucha, Holy Kombucha, Trade Joe Kombucha, KeVita, and others.
Check out this article by Women’s Health Magazine that explains each of these brands in more detail. You can find these brands in supermarkets like Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Trader Joes. You can also find it in mass retailers like Walmart and Target, convenience stores, and other locations.
Overall, kombucha is a trending drink that is worth trying. We recommend that you start off with a store brand to see if you like it before trying to brew at home. Test a few different brands and flavors.