TRENDS : KOMBUCHA
Written by Rebecca Hagler | Reviewed by Adiana Castro, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT
You may have heard your friends talk about it, or seen it sold at your favorite lunch place, but what is Kombucha? Simply, Kombucha is a slightly bubbly, sweetened black or green tea that is produced by fermenting the tea with what is called a SCOBY (a “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”). Sometimes the tea also has added flavors like fruit juice. The colonies feed on the sugars in the tea and this gives the tea a slightly sour taste that melds with the sweet from the sugar and flavorings. Kombucha contains acid, b-vitamins, and antioxidants from the fermentation process, and since there is some sugar, the drink contains about some calories (still much less than soda).
While many of the benefits of kombucha continue to be studied, there have been reports of a variety of benefits from kombucha drinkers, including aiding digestion. The colonies of bacteria that have fermented in the tea act as beneficial probiotics that feed the micro biome of your gut. Since kombucha can be purchased raw (unpasteurized) or pasteurized, these digestive benefits are likely to only be found in the raw form the drink, in which the bacteria and yeast colonies are still alive. Probiotics have been shown to boost immunity and overall health. However, drinking kombucha unpasteurized may pose a safety risk to those with compromised immune systems if you are unsure about the sanitary conditions of the production facility. Pasteurized kombucha is still safe and delicious, but you may not get as much of the probiotic benefit.
If you are ready to give this trend a try, we recommend Health-Ade Kombucha. This brand uses only the simplest ingredients: tea, sugar, water, and SCOBY, and is very low in sugar so it only contains about 30 calories per 8 ounces (and each bottle is 16 ounces for a total of 60 calories). They do not pasteurize their Kombucha, so you get all of the benefits of the probiotics it contains, and they make sure their ingredients and facilities are at the highest quality to limit the likelihood of contamination. Next time you are interested in trying a refreshing drink that is also good for you, reach for Kombucha and see if you'll be hooked too!