Health Benefits of Kombucha

Have you ever tried Kombucha? Jill introduced me to this type of fermented tea. One day when I went to her place for recording an intro for a podcast she asked me if I’d like one.

Honestly I had never tried it before and had a very vague idea of what it is. I’ve heard it has a “mother”, which sounds like making yogurt to me. And I’d also heard about Scoby, but I had no idea about it. (SCOBY is actually an acronym: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.) Sounds delicious, right?

The flavor is tart and oddly yummy.

I found that I really love it on a hot day or when I’ve been exercising and am thirsty. It really quenches my thirst like most drinks don’t. Most people are interested in it because of the health benefits of kombucha. I’ve heard it is good for hangovers, but I have no experience with this. I’ve seen claims of antioxidants, good for fighting different diseases, and Kombucha, like many fermented foods, is supposed to be good for the gut. I do know that kombucha does agree with my gut.

Kombucha originates from China and it is fermented tea made from a starter culture. Since I first had it, I’ve tried several types and look for it at the store. It’s somewhat expensive at about $2.50 to $4 a bottle, and you can’t find it everywhere, so I’ve considered making my own. My friend Kathy has made a fermented drink that I think she said was scoby and she said it was easy to make (but she’s pretty clever) and I’m still trying to get up the nerve to make some myself.

Some of the kombucha drinks I have found in the grocery stores seem to have very high levels of sugar, so that’s not so healthy. (One I tried had 14 grams of sugar, about the same as a medium banana. No wonder it tasted good. The American Heart Association says women should only have 25 grams per day.)

As far as the health benefits of kombucha, when I checked some of the sources online, I haven’t been able to find any studies that have actually convinced me. NIH and CDC have more warnings about it than suggesting you use it.

In fact, I found warnings about the health of drinking kombucha and several antidotes. I guess its not all about the health benefits of kombucha, there are negatives as well – for example WebMD says, “Kombucha can cause side effects when contaminated including stomach problems, yeast infections, allergic reactions, yellow skin (jaundice), nausea, vomiting, head and neck pain, and death.” Death, yikes! I have canned my own spaghetti sauce and know that having sterilized containers to start is critical. I think that the trick is don’t drink contaminated Kombucha!

Have you ever used a kombucha recipe? If so, leave a link below. How did it go?

Depending on the size of the batch, the recipes I looked at online take around 4-6 weeks to ferment, so if I do make some this next week, should be ready for drinking around Valentines’ Day!

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