Kombucha tea has been consumed for thousands of years for its many reported health benefits. There are those who swear by it to help prevent and treat illness and those who argue the tea doesn't have any beneficial properties.
If you've never heard of it or are confused about what it is, here's what you need to know about this popular drink.
What Is Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha is fermented, sweetened tea, typically made from black tea. The origins of kombucha tea can be traced back to ancient China and it has since spread around the world, with large companies manufacturing and selling the beverage as well as home brewers.
How Is Kombucha Made?
Making kombucha tea is done in a very specific way, and timing and temperature are everything. Here are the steps, according by Kombucha Brooklyn:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
Add six tea bags and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Black tea works best for kombucha.
Remove the tea bags and add 1 cup sugar and stir to fully dissolve. This sugar is the food for the yeast -- the final product won't taste sweet.
Add 1/2 gallon cold water and stir to combine.
Add the mixture to a large glass jar for fermentation and add more cool water until the mixture us between three and six inches from the rim of the jar.
Measure the temperature of the mixture and make sure it's below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add in the SCOBY. This the most crucial component of the tea. A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, which is in the form of a soft patty.
Cover the top of the jar with thin cloth or paper towel and secure with a rubber band.
Place the jar in a location that is between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and allow to sit for between two and four weeks, depending on desired taste.
The final tea is fizzy and has a sour or tart taste and can have a fragrance similar to vinegar. A new SCOBY will also grow on the surface of the tea as it ferments. Various fruits and herbs can be added to achieve the desired flavor. Ginger, pomegranate and cranberry are popular additions, thanks to their antioxidants and benefits for the digestive and urinary systems.
Benefits and Latest Research
Kombucha has many reported health benefits, including boosting the immune system and even curing a hangover. The probiotics within the fermented tea, just like those found in other fermented foods like kimchi and yogurt, may help restore good bacteria to the gut, where much of the immune system is located, while also keeping the digestive system on track to promote regularity and reduce symptoms. It's also said to help you feel more energized.
However, not much research has been done to verify these benefits, but kombucha is being studied.
A 2009 animal study published in the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology found kombucha tea to be more effective than regular black tea or black tea processed with enzymes at protecting against CCl4-induced hepatoxicity and liver damage. This action could the the result of antioxidants that develop while the tea is being fermented.
Kombucha tea is also being studied as a possible treatment for diabetes. An animal study published in 2012 in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found daily consumption of kombucha tea helped inhibit amylase and lipase enzymes within the plasma and pancreas, suppressed high blood sugar, delayed the absorption of LDL or "bad" cholesterol while increasing HDL or "good" cholesterol and also supported healthy liver and kidney function.
Human studies will be needed to verify the benefits outlined in these studies and others. The possibilities are exciting may very well solidify what has been said about this fermented tea for centuries.
How to Enjoy It
You can, of course, drink the actual kombucha tea to see if it will benefit you. There have also been an increase in supplements that put the tea in a form more easy to take. You can find capsules and liquid kombucha extracts that allow you to enjoy it on a daily basis without having to drink it.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn't consume kombucha. It's important to discuss adding kombucha supplements first with your doctor, especially if you're being treated for a medical condition.
We carry a variety of kombucha products at eVitamins. Check them out and let us know what you think!
For more interesting blends, how to blend and serve and other interesting tea things, check out our Ultimate Guide!