Of the health crazes and diet trends to make their way onto your social media feed, kombucha tea is one that you're likely to be familiar with. Passed down by ancient Chinese customs, this tea is said to come with an arsenal of health benefits and a quick Google search will inform you of how this fermented tea is said to help cure cancer, clean out your system, and aid with anti-diabetic properties. So what is kombucha tea exactly, and do the health benefits ring true?
Kombucha tea is a fermented drink consisting of green or black tea, sugar, and something called SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The fermentation process lasts about 1-2 weeks. Official recipes have been published from a scientific standpoint that state "being a product fermented by bacteria and yeast association, kombucha has a very complex composition which has a range of components from tea, bacteria, yeast, and compounds produced during the fermentation process." In other words, kombucha tea is fermented with healthy bacteria and then becomes a drink consisting of bacteria, yeast, and tea when it's ready to be consumed.
The bacteria present in the SCOBY adds acidic components to the drink, thereby making it bubbly in texture and sour in taste. Some have also claimed that the drink's taste resembles vinegar.
If you're just joining us for the kombucha tea health craze then drinking tea loaded with bacteria probably sounds like a hard pass. But, this drink does offer quite a few health benefits. For example, probiotics found in the healthy bacteria of kombucha can help with:
Through the fermentation process, kombucha tea is also said to contain a healthy amount of B-vitamins and enzymes.
Additionally, studies conducted on rodents have suggested that ingesting kombucha tea will promote better liver and cardiovascular health, and will also aid in preventing cancers. However, this research has yet to be tested on humans the research itself stated that more studies would need to be conducted before concrete health benefits are provided.
As with any health craze, you need to educate yourself on the risks involved. There have been recorded side effects of drinking kombucha tea that are less than savory and may have you rethinking whether this drink is the right one for you. Kombucha tea has been linked to irritating ulcers and triggering acid reflux.
Though various testimonials state that kombucha tea is the latest go-to beverage, there has been no scientific evidence to suggest that this particular drink holds any more benefits than regular tea. There also hasn't been any scientific research conducted on humans yet and published studies haven't reached conclusive evidence to suggest that kombucha tea is highly beneficial.
Given that sugar is used in the fermentation process, another factor to consider is that drinking kombucha tea will up your daily sugar intake by 10-15 grams per serving.
Kombucha tea also contains alcohol in some cases that range from 0.5 percent to 2.5 percent.
Kombucha tea hasn't technically skyrocketed to the top of healthy beverages. Any research conducted has been on rodents and not on humans, thereby making the evidence supporting any health claims to be in the early stages.
If you enjoy drinking kombucha tea then there's no definitive reason you should stop, but if you're someone who was thinking of making the switch over from regular green tea, you might not need to. Kombucha tea does come with a collection of health benefits, though no more so than regular tea. Further evidence needs to be provided before kombucha tea can call itself an official overly-healthy beverage.
So, if you're someone who has been enjoying kombucha on a regular basis, don't stop just yet! Just consume it in moderation and bare in mind that you might agitate your acid reflux.