If you’re like me then you’ve probably never heard of kombucha, and no it’s not a type of food. However, kombucha is a growing trend in the world of healthy living.
Kombucha is a sweetened black or green tea that’s fermented by adding a special type of bacteria called SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha “soda” can be made by bottling said fermented tea with fruit or juice and letting it sit for a few days until fizzy.
Some sources claim the drink dates back to around 400 CE from a physician in Japan named Kombu who created the drink to treat many illnesses. The ingredients for making kombucha are water, your preferred tea, sugar and the SCOBY. First pour hot water and sugar into a large jar, then steep the tea for about one to two hours. After that is done remove the tea bag and add the SCOBY after the mixture has cooled down. Cover the jar tightly with a paper towel and rubber band. Store the jar in a dry, and warm place away from direct sunlight and let it ferment for about 7-16 days.
Though the drink is technically a tea it tastes nothing like it. In fact, many commercial producers add different juices after the brewing process is over to make it taste better. Flavors include raspberry, grape, strawberry and the most popular flavor is ginger.
A simple Google search for “how to make kombucha” yields thousands of others who can help clarify this simple process for making your own kombucha. While about $3/bottle in store, it’s much cheaper to make at home. If you need a SCOBY, senior communication major Emily Wood would love to share hers.
Some may cringe at the thought of drinking something produced by a slimy, rubbery, algae-looking bacteria, but many people continue drinking it for the health benefits. A few claims say the tea is able to cure diabetes, improve the immune system, cleanse and detox the body and also give an energy boost.
Many claim this ancient drink is a rich source of probiotics, amino acids, vitamin B and enzymes.
“I usually drink kombucha at farmers’ markets over in Colorado. The locals make it and the drink comes in exotic flavors which is always interesting. Plus, the health benefits are great,” says sophomore theology and religious education major Nathan Mena.
But with any given fermented drink, there’s room for error. “It’s easy to contaminate the kombucha when it’s fermenting, and that can cause a lot of issues like getting sick,” explains Mena.
Pastor Rich Carlson, vice president of spiritual life comments, “In my opinion, if the chances of getting sick or hurting yourself are greater than the actual health benefits in the kombucha tea, then you shouldn’t drink it.”
The issue of alcohol produced by the fermenting process is another potential drawback. While the alcohol content is less than 0.5%, some companies still place a warning on its kombucha bottles for people attempting to avoid alcohol altogether, something of particular importance to Seventh-day Adventists. However, a large number of students on-campus consume (and sometimes even brew their own) kombucha.
“One of my friends introduced it to me a while back and I've been drinking it ever since,” says freshman Internatuonal Rescue and Relief major Madison Kamarad. “As far as the whole issue about the alcohol content, I spoke with a mentor from my academy and I don’t think it’s big enough to harm anyone. But if it’s a concern with some people then they probably shouldn’t drink it; there are other healthy substitutes out there.”
Even though it might be an acquired taste, give it a try; kombucha might become your new favorite drink.
Caroline Guchu is a sophomore studying communication.