Kombucha: A Fermented Tea Drink

This month we are spotlighting probiotics, which are “good” bacteria that reside in and on our bodies. I would like to introduce you to another way to introduce these bacteria to your body beyond taking a supplemental dose of probiotics.

KOMBUCHA! (pronounced: kom-BOO-cha) is a fermented tea drink that has grown in popularity over the past five years. The origins of the drink can be traced back to ancient China over 2000 years ago where it was worshipped as an elixir for immortality. The process of making the drink involves fermenting tea with sugar using SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The process of fermentation produces colonies of good
bacteria that can help with the break-down of food particles within the digestive system. The resulting drink is bubbly, sweet, and slightly acidic with a vinegar-like taste. Other health benefits that have been attributed to kombucha include: improved liver detoxification, increased immunity, and cancer prevention*.
The drink can be purchased at most health food stores. However, for an adventurous spirit, the drink can also be made at home. The process involves adding a SCOBY, or mushroom, to a batch of sugary tea in a large glass jar. The mixture is left alone for about a week to allow the fermentation process to occur. At the end of the week,
you will have your own batch of kombucha! Different flavors can be added to taste the drink as you desire. With each batch that is made, the SCOBY produces another “baby” mushroom that can be passed onto friends to make their own batches. Caution should be used when making the drink on your own, because with any fermentation process, there is a risk for cross-contamination with other bacteria cultures. A few cases of contamination have been reported with home brewed tea that has led to health complications in the individuals producing the tea.

With the excessive use of disinfectants, antiseptics, and antibiotics in our culture, using fermented foods, like kombucha, is an effective way to introduce good bacteria back into our system.

Other fermented foods:
• Miso
• Soy sauce
• Tempeh
• Kimchi
• Kefir
• Sauerkraut
• Sake

*Note: The alleged health benefits have not been proven through researched clinical trials.