THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO KOMBUCHA
Anyone else doing a Dry January?
I am, and my favorite bubbly alternative is Kombucha.
Kombucha is an interesting beverage that is gaining in popularity in the United States. No wonder so many people are curious about this curious drink. It’s fizzy, tart, “alive” and some claim it has all kinds of health benefits. There are dozens of manufacturers and even more flavors. What is kombucha? How is it made? Which one should I choose? So many questions. This guide aims to provide brief answers to your questions with links to lengthier blogs if you want to take a deep dive into kombucha.
WHAT IS KOMBUCHA?
Kombucha is fermented sweet tea. It has been made for centuries, as far back as 221 B.C., in fact.
HOW IS KOMBUCHA MADE?
Sweet tea is combined with specific bacteria and yeast. Left in the just-right environment, the fermentation process begins. As the bacteria and yeast feed on the sugar, carbon dioxide is released, giving kombucha the naturally-effervescent quality. Depending on the manufacturer, fruits, botanicals and herbs may be added during the tea-steeping process or after fermentation to give the kombucha its flavor.
WHAT ABOUT THE SUGAR, ALCOHOL, CAFFEINE IN KOMBUCHA?
In order to have fermentation, you have to have sugar because it feeds the yeast and bacteria. Much of the sugar is consumed by this yeast and bacteria, but some sugar still remains. Most kombuchas are considered a lower sugar alternative to sodas and juices, with a typical serving of kombucha coming in at under 10 grams of sugar. No matter the flavor, Brew Dr. Kombucha always contains 7 grams of sugar or less.
Alcohol in kombucha is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. The makers are careful to extract alcohol so that kombucha is safe for all to drink and contains only trace amounts of alcohol – less than 0.5%. Caffeine levels, on the other hand, are based on the type of tea used. Black and green teas are typical in kombucha and they do contain caffeine, but the fermentation process reduces the amount of caffeine naturally so the kombucha ends up with around 15 mg of caffeine in the end product. A cup of coffee has around 95 mg of caffeine, for reference.
CAN ANYONE DRINK KOMBUCHA?
Kombucha is a wonderful drink most people can enjoy. It’s naturally gluten-free, fits nicely into most diets, including vegetarian, Whole30 and Keto. Here’s another thing to think about: many kombuchas are considered “raw,” meaning they are unpasteurized. Because of this, doctors may advise pregnant women to abstain from kombucha while pregnant. Be sure to consult your doctor before trying something new or if you have any questions or concerns about adding kombucha to your diet.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DRINKING KOMBUCHA?
There are many claims of the health benefits of kombucha, including nutritionally and functionally. The beneficial bacteria created during the fermentation process may impact the microbiome in the digestive tract to improve gut health. Kombucha may also boost digestive enzymes, vitamin levels and antioxidant properties in foods. Mostly, however, fans just love the uniqueness of kombucha!
HOW DO I STORE KOMBUCHA?
Raw kombucha is alive with beneficial bacteria that are quite fussy about their environment. In order to keep the flavor and quality of the kombucha the way it was intended, kombucha needs to be refrigerated or chilled in a cooler. Anything warmer will perpetuate the fermentation process for a tangier, more vinegary, fizzy and alcohol-laden beverage that can be off-putting.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A KOMBUCHA?
There are so many kombuchas out there, it can be challenging to find the best one. If you want a kombucha with the naturally-occurring beneficial bacteria, make sure you select a “raw” kombucha that hasn’t been pasteurized to kill bacteria. If sugar is of concern, be sure to read the nutritional labels as kombuchas contain varying amounts of sugar.
Look at the label to see the ingredients, too. It’s up to you whether you prefer organic fruits and botanicals to flavor your kombucha or artificial ingredients and added sugar. Finally, visit the manufacturer’s website to see how that company’s environmental practices align with what matters to you.
CAN I USE KOMBUCHA IN RECIPES?
We love this question because kombucha is so amazing in recipes! From cocktails and mocktails to smoothies and dressings, kombucha adds that “little something special.” With all of the interesting kombucha flavors out there, there’s really no limit to what you can do with kombucha.