If you visited a Japanese juice bar in 415 AD, you might have been offered an “immortal health elixir.” That’s how the ancient Japanese described Kombucha Tea, the sweetened, fermented beverage that enthusiastic users around the world claim prevents cancer, cures arthritis, aids digestion, eliminates fibromyalgia, helps fight depression and anxiety and offers a score of other benefits.
Kombucha Tea is made by combining a starter “mushroom” called a SCOBY (an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) with a mixture of tea, sugar and fruit juice. This interdependent group of helpful, living, “good” bacteria blends with the other ingredients over a 10-14 day fermentation period to produce a carbonated, vinegary, sweet drink.
The yeast from the SCOBY also produces alcohol. Commercially available Kombucha Tea typically contains less than .05% alcohol. Longer brew times will reduce the amount of alcohol in the finished version.
Kombucha Tea, for years consumed as a health-boosting beverage by the alternative-health community, is today beginning to be embraced by the mainstream. Several international beauty product manufacturers are marketing skin cleansers containing Kombucha extract. The drink itself is becoming more ubiquitous. Vending machine operators are beginning to stock Kombucha Tea and it’s “on tap” at some health food outlets. Commercial production has grown into a multi-million dollar business.
While there is a scarcity of documented evidence of mental and physical health benefits from drinking Kombucha Tea, passionate users claim it stimulates the body’s digestion processes, boosts the immune system and revitalizes overall heath. It definitely contains healthy elements including B vitamins, Glucaric acid, Acetic acid, Lactic acid, and beneficial enzymes. There is no sodium or protein. A four-ounce serving has 8 grams of sugar and 8 grams of carbohydrates with about 40 calories.