Most people have come across kombucha: a trending health drink for its probiotics, which are important for gut health. Maybe you’ve seen it on the menus of hip cafes, as you’re walking through the aisles of your local supermarket or as you’ve visited your health-obsessed friend and been simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by the bacterial growth on their kitchen bench. But what is it exactly?
Kombucha is a tart, fizzy drink produced as a result of the fermentation of black/green tea with sugar and a scoby (a symbiotic culture of acetic acid, known as vinegar, bacteria and yeast). This fermentation process occurs for one to two weeks. During the fermentation process, the sugar is converted to alcohol which is then converted to organic acids (such as acetic acid).
So what are the health benefits? Kombucha contains acetic acid, which has the ability to kill harmful microorganisms in your gut; polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that help protect or act against cancer; probiotics, which can improve digestion and immune function; and both folic acid and B vitamins, which helps with the production and maintenance of new cells. These components all work together to help you maintain, or gain, a healthy gut microflora.
Whilst volunteering in the Byron Bay hinterland at an eco retreat, known as Paradise One, I got to be involved with brewing kombucha. Ours was particularly tasty due to the addition of fresh mint that we harvested straight from the organic permaculture gardens. This has inspired me to invest in a scoby once I return home so that I can brew my own organic kombucha for a fraction of the price of what you would pay to buy it premade. This also has the fantastic benefit of avoiding plastic waste!