So what is this mystical beverage that is often referred to as the immortal elixir of life…
You may have seen this mystical drink cropping up in your local health food shop, as well as in the likes of Daylesford, Planet Organic and Whole Foods Market over the last 12 months or so however, in many other parts of the world there are kombucha cafes, cocktail bars and it is served on draught at Twitter world HQ!
But why would you pay £3-4 for a drink that you have never heard of and know nothing about! Especially when it often has unidentified bits floating in it…
Well it’s time to sit up and listen! There are a number of very good reasons why Kombucha should be a part of your life.
Now for the history part – Kombucha has been around for approximately 2000 years. There are reports of Kombucha dating as far back as the Qin Dynasty (220BC) in ancient China. Kombucha was very popular in Russia and parts of Europe until WWII when tea and sugar became rationed, making them difficult to come by for the average family. It was something Grandmother would have made and gave you when you were feeling under the weather to boost your immune system! And how often has what grandma said been bang on the money!?
Well, Kombucha is essentially fermented tea. Fermentation (think sauerkraut, kefir, natural yoghurt and on the less healthy side beer, cider and wine!) Fermentation is a naturally occurring metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases, and/or alcohol. It occurs in yeast and bacteria, but also in oxygen-starved muscle cells, as in the case of lactic acid fermentation.
In kombucha brewing the sugars and tea are digested by the culture and converted to a wealth of beneficial acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and carbon dioxide and as long as the drink is not pasturised, these all remain living and active in the bottle – and subsequently in your body and digestive tract – which s a good thing!
There are very few soft drinks around (apart from water) that are functional – and by that I mean actively doing you good. If you read online, you will read that Kombucha cures every ailment possible! Actually Kombucha doesn’t “cure” anything! However, it does naturally contain many beneficial acids that our own bodies produce to help keep us balanced and functioning well.
Many regular drinkers have noticed specific improvements not only in digestion, but in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, gout and acne (thanks to the Glucuronic acid which is powerful detoxifier and helps in the repair of cartilage and connective tissues), Improved energy and reduced IBS symptoms (Lactic acid increases the oxygen in the blood and helps balance the pH and well as encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut). It also contains Acetic acid (as found in vinegar) which naturally inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and gives it it’s unique “tart” taste.
And the best part – you only need a small amount daily (about 125ml) to reap the benefits, although I can guarantee that after a while, you’ll want more!
As for the floating bits – whilst they may not be to everyone’s taste, a good quality raw / unpasturised kombucha is likely to have bits in it. Either a new culture forming across the surface in the neck of the bottle, or some yeasty, stringy looking bits. It’s a great sign of an active brew that hasn’t been filtered to a high degree. If the “bits” are off-putting to you, just pour it through a tea strainer into a glass, however, they are actually the most nutritious bits.
A naturally fizzy soft drink that is good for you… about time too!