PODCAST. Kombucha tea whose alias is mushroom tea or Russian tea is a trendy drink to replace soda as a way to cut back on sugar. Kombu…what? Pronounced kawm-boo-chah, this tea has been around for centuries and is now mainstream. But does it have health benefits? Let’s separate the junk science from the sound science with five things you should know.
For a long time, kombucha tea has been popular as an alternative therapy and old gut remedy. You may have read or been told it will help you to live a healthier life. And get this…according to a report by MarketsandMarkets, sales of kombucha are expected to grow 25% each year to 2020 making this more than just a trend.
How’s the tea made? It’s prepared by placing the kombucha culture in a mixture typically of black or green tea plus sugar and allowing it to ferment. Kombucha makers call this culture “SCOBY,” short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” It forms what looks a lot like a mushroom on top of the beverage during the 7-10 days of the fermentation process.
During this time, the bacteria and yeast eat up the sugar in the tea, producing B vitamins, live potentially beneficial bacteria or probiotics, antioxidants, acids, and traces of ethanol, a natural by-product of fermentation. It only contains about 30 calories per eight ounces, zero fat and cholesterol and is very low in protein. It smells kinda like beer but tastes like vinegar or apple cider. Juices or flavors are often added to improve the taste.