Kombucha 101

If you’re new to the world of kombucha, first of all, WELCOME! I think you’ll like it here.

You’ve probably heard about kombucha lately, as its popularity is spreading. But if you’ve chosen this intro post, it might be because you don’t know quite what this trendy fermented drink is (or why you might want to consume it).

Kombucha is a beverage produced by fermenting sweetened tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria.

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? (In fact, it is!)

But I totally get when people are hesitant to try this stuff. It looks weird (what’s that stringy stuff floating in it?) and some of the flavors sound odd.

It took me a while to jump on the kombucha bandwagon, but at this point I’ve been drinking it regularly for a couple of years (except while I was pregnant). I even brew it at home now (something I NEVER thought I would do), which I’ll cover in a step-by-step post coming soon, in case you’re interested in giving that a try!

Even though kombucha might seem like the latest new trend, it actually has ancient roots, dating back to roughly 2,000 years ago and known by the Chinese as the “immortal health elixir.” Its list of anecdotal benefits is impressively long, including preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.

I’ve found it to be helpful from a digestion standpoint — the main reason most fellow kombucha lovers I know keep drinking it — thanks to its probiotics. These probiotics come courtesy of the SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) used to ferment the drink. Oh, and that stringy stuff floating in the bottles? Those pieces of SCOBY. It’s definitely a little weird to drink them initially from a texture standpoint, but you get used to it! You usually don’t drink those until the last sip or two of the drink, and not all kombuchas have those remnants.

(The SCOBY also feeds off of the tea and sugar mixture, so by the time your kombucha is ready to drink most of the sugar is gone. Yay! However, the sugar level can go up depending on what flavorings are then added.)

There’s legitimate science to help back the drink’s famed powers, too. 2014 research by the University of Latvia showed that kombucha “can efficiently act in health preservation and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of boosting immunity.”

Okay, so we’ve established that this is healthy stuff. But how does it taste? True, fermented yeast and bacteria sound less than appealing, and kombucha looks weird — all murky and sometimes strangely colored. But I LOVE the taste (and not in a “it’s-good-for-me-so-I’m-going-to-just-suck-it-up-and-drink-it” kind of way). I legitimately love it.

You can always find at least one to two kombucha brands at just about any grocery store these days, and health stores like Whole Foods have a wide selection. Trader Joe’s now stocks kombucha, too, which is AMAZING news.

If you’re hesitant to try kombucha because you’re worried it will have too much of a vinegar taste, I would recommend grabbing a Health-Ade Kombucha in Pink Lady Apple. It’s got a fresh, mild taste, and is very palatable and reminiscent of apple juice. It’s a great gateway kombucha! 🙂

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Some of my other favorite brands are:

  • GT’s Kombucha (This is pretty much the OG brand of the modern age, and Gingerade will forever be a classic kombucha go-to for me. I am also loving their Watermelon Wonder flavor for summer!)
  • UpDog Kombucha (This is a Winston-Salem brand that’s killing it in the Southeast! If you see it on-shelf or on tap somewhere, definitely try some.)

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  • Humm Kombucha (We can sometimes find this brand at our local Costco, which is always exciting!)

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2 Comments

    1. Anna

      It’s usually about 25-30 calories or so per 8 ounces, and I like to look for the brands that are lower in sugar. (The GT’s Gingerade that I mentioned in this post, which will probably always be my favorite store-bought version, only has six grams of sugar.)

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