Benefits of Fermented Tea – A Kombucha Primer
You’ve probably had Kombucha, heard of Kombucha (most grocery stores carry some varieties on their shelves) or wondered, “What is Kombucha?” But for much of the world, this fizzy, slightly sweet, slightly sour, acidic, fermented beverage made with four simple ingredients has been part of their daily lives for generations.
But did you know that the benefits of Kombucha can also be harnessed through a powder? Or that when paired with other ingredients, it can pack a one-two punch for digestive health with other benefits?
Let’s find out more!
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is simply fermented tea made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. It’s usually served cold. It is also sometimes called mushroom tea – not because it includes mushrooms, but because both mushrooms and yeast are fungi.
How do you make Kombucha?
The process is simple but requires patience. Sugar is added to tea – most often, it’s black or green tea. Then, a “SCOBY” is added. This “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast,” usually a round cellulose disc, is the colony that creates the chemical reaction known as fermentation.
The concoction is usually left to ferment at room temperature for several weeks and then bottled and refrigerated, where it often continues to ferment. In some cases, Kombucha is then dried and turned into Kombucha Powder.
But what IS fermentation?
Fermentation is a natural process during which yeast and bacteria break down sugar or other carbs into other components, like alcohol or acids.
In the case of wine, yeast breaks down the sugar in grapes. Love beer? You need fermentation of the malt. Can’t have sauerkraut or Kimchi without fermenting cabbage. Other popular fermented foods include miso soup, probiotic yogurt, and the high-protein soybean-based meat substitute called tempeh.
An important note: Because kombucha is a fermented product, alcoholic fermentation does take place, so in the case of home kombucha brewing, it’s important to be aware of the alcohol by volume. Don’t think this is just sweet tea!
What’s the history of Kombucha?
The sour Kombucha that’s popular in-store today is a far cry from its ancient beginnings in Northeast China, where it is thought to have originated around 220 B.C., and was lauded for its properties of boosting the immune system, detoxifying and energizing.
It is thought that a doctor named Kombu broadened the use of the tea fungus when he brought it to Japan in 414 A.D. to help treat digestive problems for the elite.
What are the benefits of Fermented Tea?
Current scientific research continues on the positive impact of the popular fizzy drink. One thing’s for sure: the fermentation process that it takes to create Kombucha yields probiotic benefits that may affect digestion. Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria that are needed to aid digestion.
One other by-product of the lactic acid fermentation process is vinegar – which is known to have strong antibacterial properties.
If the fermented tea is made with Green Tea, even better. Those benefits carry over.
Are there other ways to enjoy the benefits of Kombucha?
Some people don’t care for the beverage's taste but want to get the benefits of this ancient drink that all starts with tea leaves. A powdered form of Kombucha can offer the functional benefits without drinking kombucha.
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