What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a traditional fermented drink typically brewed with black or green tea and sugar. It contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, probiotic bacteria, and enzymes, and has been prized by traditional cultures for its health-promoting properties.
To dive in deeper, Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented with a starter culture SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) and mature kombucha liquid to become a nutrient-rich beverage. The fermentation process takes 5 days or more depending on temperature and other factors. Some brewers ferment it for much longer however, and have perfected their brewing skills so that many different flavour profiles can be pulled from the beverage. The live kombucha microbes consume over 90% of the sugar and caffeine during the fermentation process, resulting in a finished product that is low-sugar and low-caffeine. This process is similar to what would happen in sourdough bread, milk kefir, water kefir, and other ferments.
Once a very obscure drink, Kombucha is now a popular beverage that is available in your local grocery store, health food stores, and other retailers! Many people also brew their very own batches at home using various superfood ingredients and methods. If you would like to try an at home brew, you can purchase one of our DIY Starter Culture at our Taproom!
The SCOBY: a Colony of Microbes
The SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, is the collection of microbes responsible for turning sweet tea into a probiotic and enzyme-rich beverage. Essentially, it is a living colony of beneficial organisms that metabolize the sugars and caffeine in sweet tea to produce healthful acids, enzymes, and probiotics.
Sometimes we hear others refer to a Kombucha SCOBY as “The Mother” or “Mushroom”. A SCOBY is called “The Mother” because it is used to inoculate the next batch of sweet tea to turn it into kombucha. The reason some call a SCOBY a “Mushroom” is purely because a SCOBY can sometimes resemble a mushroom top. This is also the reason why Kombucha is sometimes called “Mushroom Tea.” Not to worry, there is no fungi in a Kombucha SCOBY or kombucha at all! On a practical level, a SCOBY is a cellulose structure created by the kombucha microbes to seal off its food source (sweet tea) from additional microbes in the air.
Under proper care and proper brewing practice, a SCOBY can last for many years. In fact, there are families that have SCOBYs that are generations old, and have made many, many batches of kombucha over the years.
This tangy fermented beverage contains beneficial probiotics, acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. It is lower in calories and sugar than many other carbonated beverages, such as soft drinks, and typically contains about 50 calories per 12 ounces / 355 ml.. Kombucha is fat-free, vegan, nut free, soy free, gluten free, and dairy free.
What Does it Taste Like?
This fermented tea has a slightly sweet and slightly tangy flavour profile, reminiscent of a shrub or vinegar-based drink. The flavour varies widely depending on ingredients and brewing practice.
Kombucha Benefits and Probiotics
This ancient elixir is touted for it’s various health benefits. The nutrients it contains are wonderful for supporting the body in many different ways. It is important to note that while there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from avid supporters, studies about kombucha are lacking. But then again, so are studies about flossing, but everyone seems to be pro-flossing!
Here are some common benefits we hear about kombucha:
Improved pancreas function
Improved mood (helps with anxiety/depression)
Reducing Candida (yeast)
Helps nutrient assimilation
May be beneficial for weight loss
Although there is lots of anecdotal evidence for Kombucha’s benefits, it is not a panacea. If you have any health concerns or are wanting to treat a disease, it would be wise to seek help from a health care professional.
DISCLAIMER: Statements above have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Happy Belly Kombucha recognizes that every body is different. Although there are many claims in regards to kombucha’s health benefits, the Happy Belly Kombucha Team highly recommends that one seeks advice from a health care professional when it comes to treating, curing, or preventing any disease.