Kombucha is typically found either in the produce department of the grocery store or the refrigerated juice section. The basic ingredients of this fermented tea are yeast, sugar and black tea. This mixture is then set aside for at least a week during which the bacteria and acids ferment the tea as well as produce a small amount of alcohol. The process is similar to how sauerkraut or kimchi is fermented.
While kombucha is a new trend in the United States, it has roots in China, Japan and Russia, where it’s been around for thousands of years. More recently, it has become popularized in the U.S. as a health or energy drink. While kombucha does have some B vitamins and beneficial bacteria that could be helpful for digestion, there is not a lot of scientific evidence to prove that kombucha is definitely effective or how much would be necessary to produce benefits.
The typical American diet is low in fermented foods and beverages overall, so focusing on getting more beneficial bacteria from probiotics in foods and beverages has the potential to support immune health. The energy-boosting effect of kombucha is most likely due to the caffeine content from tea.
Since making kombucha involves cultivating bacteria in a liquid that will be consumed, it is important that safe practices are used. If it is not prepared properly, harmful bacteria or mold could grow. For this reason, make sure to purchase kombucha from a safe source.
If making it at home, glass, stainless steel or plastic containers are recommended. It is also important to keep the work surface clean including the equipment and utensils used. If buying kombucha from the grocery store, take some time to browse the vast variety of fruity and tangy flavors to choose from including sparkling options.