August 19, 2014
I’m sold on kombucha. It’s so dang tasty! What is this wonder of a drink? Let me tell you. It’s a fizzy fermented bevy made by adding a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) to a batch tea and sugar that you let hangout together and get their ferment on for 7-30 days, depending on your taste preference. You can find a huge list of kombucha health benefits on the web. It’s attributed improving digestion, boosting liver function, preventing cancer… and on and on. However, it’s important to note that there just plain isn’t scientific evidence to back these claims up. “But Amy!” you say, “You’re so big on being evidenced based!” Why yes, yes I am. I’m not drinking it or promoting it because of those claims. I brew it because it’s fun. I drink it because it’s low in sugar and it’s really dang tasty and because water gets boring sometimes. And if I get some of the unproven benefits from it, great!
Aside from all the health claims, there are quite a few other myths floating around as well. One is that after the fermentation, the tea becomes decaffeinated. NOT TRUE. If you want decaffeinated kombucha, brew decaffeinated tea.
Another is that the SCOBY digests all of the sugar in the tea and that none remains at the end of the fermentation. HALF TRUE BUT MOSTLY NOT TRUE. Most people like their kombucha after one or two weeks of fermenting. At this point, all that has happened with the sugar is that it’s been separated into fructose and glucose and they’re floating around by their little lonesomes. It’s not until day 15 or so that the SCOBY starts actually digesting the sugars. Fermenting for the full 30 days greatly reduces the sugar content but then you’re basically drinking vinegar which most other people just can’t do. I know I can’t!
True or false? Kombucha has high levels of B vitamins. BIG. FAT. FALSE. The international Journal of Food Science and Technology confirms that the amounts are so small that they almost can’t be measured. And a side note for those of you who try to take in excessive B vitamins via supplements and what not… your body doesn’t store these. They are water soluble vitamins which means you pee out what your body doesn’t need. Save yourself some money and stop making expensive pee!
Guys, we don’t even know if the beneficial bacteria in the drink are the strains our bodies need. Our guts can be pretty specific with what they need to make them awesome and the verdict is still out on kombucha. And remember, just because your cousin’s neighbor cured her lupus or your friend’s aunt got rid of her joint pain from drinking kombucha, doesn’t mean you will too. I’m a fan because compared to soda and even juice, it’s got less sugar and as I said before, I brew and drink it because it’s fun and tasty! It’s a refreshing drink that MAY do you some good health wise, but right now we can’t say for sure.
Kombucha is getting seriously popular, especially here in Portland. It’s expensive though, nearly three bucks a pop. It’s ridiculously easy and inexpensive to make at home, which is what I do. You do have to be careful with home brews though. Don’t be willy-nilly with washing your hands and equipment. Aspergillus can live in the kombucha environment and can cause problems for those with weakened immune systems (little peeps, old peeps, pregnant peeps). I like to rinse my equipment in bleach water and let it air dry. Also, don’t take a SCOBY from anyone with questionable hygiene. Duh.
I’ve got my recipe for kombucha for y’all here. I have high school student who is going through treehouse currently working on getting a template for printable recipes. For now… you just have to cut, paste and print.
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