If you’ve already fallen for kombucha you’ll know how refreshing a cold glass of this lightly carbonated, tangy beverage can be. If you haven’t had the chance to try kombucha yet this article contains everything you need to know about this probiotic-rich drink including what it is, how it can be used, and which health claims are backed by science (and the ones that aren’t.)
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from tea, sugar, and rubbery, mushroom shaped-SCOBY (an acronym which stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.) Kombucha is made by adding sugar and a small amount of SCOBY to green, black or white tea. The bacteria and sugar ferments the yeast which gives the drink its signature bubbly mouthfeel and negligible alcoholic content (<1%.) A rich source of probiotics, kombucha has a sweet and pleasantly sour flavour which makes it perfect for sipping on its own or using as base for cocktails and other mixed drinks.
How to enjoy kombucha
Whether you prefer store-bought kombucha or love to make your own at home, kombucha lends itself to a variety of uses. If you’re looking for ways to dial up the flavour of kombucha try adding fresh grated ginger, fresh mint or basil, or fresh or frozen fruit to your glass. Kombucha’s effervescent mouthfeel makes it an ideal cocktail ingredient and you’ll find that it pairs especially well with clear spirits such as sake, gin, vodka, and tequila.
The health benefits of kombucha: Here’s what you need to know
Much of the hype surrounding kombucha has been centred around its many purported health benefits. According to both advertisers and devotees kombucha has the potential to help you lose weight, improve gut health and manage Type 2 diabetes (amongst many other claims.) Before buying kombucha by the case it’s important to take a look at what the actual research says.
Kombucha and weight loss: The research surrounding kombucha and weight loss is tangentially related to the effects of green tea and weight loss (a link that has proven to be mildly beneficial at best). There are no current studies showing that regularly drinking kombucha leads to more efficient weight loss.
Kombucha and gut health: A rich source of probiotics due to the fermentation process, many people claim that their digestive problems (such as gas, diarrhea, constipation, and other symptoms associated with IBS and Crohn’s disease) are lessened when they’re regularly consuming kombucha and other fermented products. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re interested in supplementing your diet with probiotics; a recent study found that certain probiotics could actually have an adverse effect on gut health thanks to a buildup of D-lactic acid in the small intestine.
Kombucha and Type 2 diabetes: While there have been preliminary animal studies that have been conducted on kombucha and its effect on Type 2 diabetes, there have yet to be any successful studies involving human participants.
The bottom line when it comes to kombucha? Enjoy this low SmartPoints beverage for its delightfully tangy taste and lightly carbonated texture, not for its unsubstantiated health claims.