I love tea.
Well, I love coffee. I’m addicted to coffee. But tea comes close. I drink coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon or evening. Herbal tea, black tea, green tea, red tea… I drink it all. I am non-discriminating when it comes to tea.
Some varieties have caffeine; some don’t. But they ALL have health benefits.
That’s why I started drinking tea regularly almost 20 years ago, and I’ve never looked back.
So, when I first heard about this tea-based drink called kombucha, I was intrigued. I had to find out more. And I’m going to share what I learned here with you.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented (but mostly non-alcoholic — more on that later) tea that is usually made by adding a colony of yeast and bacteria to either black or green tea, mixed with sugar. This liquid is then stored in a jar for about a week.
This drink has long been enjoyed in most of the eastern world (especially Russia and Asia).
The western world is just now beginning to accept kombucha’s unusual taste and take advantage of its many health benefits.
Here are just a few.
Because kombucha is commonly made with black or green tea as the liquid base, it contains the antioxidant benefits of these teas.
The antioxidants in green and black tea have been shown to prevent all sorts of serious diseases, including cancer and heart disease. They’re even helpful in reducing the risks of obesity, diabetes, and stroke.
This last benefit is especially exciting to me because my maternal grandmother died from complications due to stroke in 2013, and my mother has just recently suffered her second stroke.
Acetic acid and usnic acid
The fermented tea also has a high concentration of acetic and usnic acids. Yes, acetic acid is basically vinegar, so kombucha has a decidedly vinegary taste. And usnic acid is primarily found in lichen, so that tastes pretty much exactly as it sounds.
Still, these acids help strengthen the immune system, giving the body an advantage in the fight against any number of common illnesses and helping to promote its overall health.
Another healthy acid that can be found in kombucha is butyric acid. Interestingly, this same acid is present in both cheese and vomit. Yes, that’s as gross as it sounds too.
However, butyric acid is a known cancer fighter and promoter of healthy cells.
Clinical evidence for its effects on colon cancer is especially promising.
B vitamins can be found in plentiful supply in kombucha. These vitamins enhance the body’s metabolic function. They have also been shown to improve a number of other systems in the body, including the muscular system, circulatory system, and the nervous system.
Most importantly, though, these vitamins are also cancer fighters. They dramatically reduce your risk of getting one of the deadliest types of cancer — pancreatic.
The major detoxifying power of kombucha comes from gluconic acid. This heavy-duty substance has been used for decades to remove toxic metals from the body.
And that’s a really good thing.
Toxic metals, even if not ingested in lethal doses, can cause all kinds of damage to the nervous and circulatory systems — especially in fetuses and very young children.
Some cautions and tips
Be judicious in your consumption of kombucha. See how your body reacts to a little bit before you drink very much. Some people have experienced upset stomachs from the fermented tea, and some have had even more serious allergic reactions.
Another thing you might need to worry about is contamination. The Internet has lots of web sites with recipes telling people how to make their own homemade kombucha. This can pose many health risks if the tea is not prepared under sterile conditions.
And, if you have any sort of sensitivity to alcohol, you might want to steer clear of this drink entirely. The homebrew process is most likely going to lead to a higher alcohol content — about 3%. Compare that to 2% in the Synergy bottled kombucha, and .5% in the Brew Dr. brand.
Still nervous about trying kombucha?
I completely understand. I really do. After all, we’re talking about fermented tea here that really doesn’t taste all that great.
Well… I should say kombucha is an acquired taste. In that way, I don’t think it’s that much different from apple cider vinegar (which I’ve also learned to really love — both for its flavor and its health benefits).
One brand, Yogi, packages its kombucha in extract form, mixed into bags with green tea. It doesn’t have the hard-to-handle vinegar taste of regular kombucha (because there are no live cultures in it), and you don’t have to worry about either the alcohol content or the safety of the product. It also does not have any of the sugar content that is present in traditional kombucha. This is especially important to me, since I drastically cut down on my sugar intake a little over a year ago.
Yogi Green Tea Kombucha is just like any other tea that comes in bags — just with some extra beneficial acids and vitamins, per a company spokesperson.
If you’ve never tried kombucha before, I suggest going this route — just to give it a try. That’s what I did…just because it didn’t seem as strange to me as drinking tea with live cultures in it. I mean, I’ve eaten yogurt with live cultures before, but tea? The yuck factor was still pretty strong when I thought about it initially…until I finally bit the bullet.
There was no “yuck” factor with these tea bags…at least not for me.
If you are still nervous about trying kombucha (or just don’t think it’s right for you), you can always stick to regular, unfermented black or green tea. And, if you’re trying to cut down on caffeine, try delicious red tea (rooibos). You won’t get as many health benefits, but you’ll still get all the antioxidant power of kombucha — without all the worry.