Let’s talk kombucha. What is it? Where’d it come from? Is it as good for you as the companies who make it want you to believe? Sure, it’s on-trend. But what are its real health benefits?
“Come on. Have a drink. Everyone’s doing it.” It’s a familiar refrain from after-school specials. And nowadays, the peer pressure to drink is still on, but this time it doesn’t come with the threat of a hangover. It’s possible we may even feel *gasp* better the next day. That certainly seems to be the case for the millions of Americans who have made kombucha their drink of choice. Its loyal ambassadors have long lauded the libation for its cancer fighting contents, probiotic properties and a myriad of other health benefits.
A decade ago, the “k” word was shrouded in mystery, seemingly the domain of professional yogis and crunchy social circles who met on Sundays to cleanse their auras. But how times have changed. Now it’s practically impossible to peruse the grocery store (or even a gas station cooler) without catching a glimpse of the tart and bubbly drink.
It was clear kombucha had hit the mainstream when commercial soft drink giant PepsiCo started peddling the probiotic tea in 2016 when they acquired the popular KeVita brand. Fast-forward to 2019, and it seems like everyone wants a piece of the bacteria-infused beverage market.
The sheer volume of brands, flavor profiles and health benefits can be overwhelming to those who are new to the wonderful world of kombucha. A deeper dive might help de-mystify the booming superfood trend so you’ll be one step closer to having a happy and healthy gut.
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What is Kombucha?
Though kombucha is sometimes referred to as “mushroom tea,” it does not contain the aforementioned fungus. It’s a fermented drink often made from green and black teas, fruit juices, bacteria and yeast. This ancient concoction has replaced modern energy drinks for many people who want to add a natural, antioxidant rich boost to their day.
Does Kombucha Have Alcohol in It?
Yes, because of the fermentation process, all kombuchas contain some alcohol. However, in most cases, the kombucha that’s found on typical refrigerated shelves contains only very small amounts (about 0.5% alcohol by volume), which makes it safe for most people to consume. “Hard kombucha” brands such as JuneShine undergo a second round of fermentation that makes it more alcoholic. The result has about 6.0% ABV (about the same amount of alcohol as a craft beer).
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Is Kombucha Good for You? What Are the Health Benefits?
Scientific studies are limited, but the prospects are promising. Because most kombucha contains green and black teas, they are naturally filled with antioxidants which are known to destroy free radicals and fight cancer. The probiotic contents are said to beat bloat, while its antibacterial properties may slow the growth of culprits like candida yeast. Kombucha may also help prevent heart disease. Finally, kombucha is a raw food — which means its vitamins are never depleted during a pasteurization process. Remember to opt for kombuchas that are low in added sugars, and try to stick with one to two 8 oz. servings per day.
What’s Floating in my Kombucha?
Sounds like you bought an unfiltered variety! Those particles you see inside your kombucha are part of the scoby, a culture made of bacteria and yeast. Known as “the mother,” this primary ingredient will eventually produce smaller versions of itself. It may look weird, but you can thank the scoby for many of kombucha’s health attributes.
What Are the Best Flavors and Brands?
Ultimately, you’ll need to sip around to determine what pleases your palate, but popular kombucha varieties are produced by brands like GT’s Living Foods, Health-Ade, Dr. Brew, KeVita, Camellia Grove, and Humm. They contain flavors including ginger, watermelon, lavender, apple, grape, berry, guava, mojito and lemon.
A Healthy Alcohol Alternative?
Let’s let the professionals weigh in. Forrest Dein, co-founder and CCO of JuneShine has this to say about their craft hard kombucha: “The great thing about JuneShine is that it is brewed with simple organic ingredients and none of the additives that a lot of the big alcoholic drinks contain. JuneShine contains no additives, no preservatives, no coloring, no pesticides, no GMOs, no corn syrup, no rice syrup.
It’s made from all organic ingredients and brewed from jun kombucha (using green tea instead of black tea and honey instead of cane sugar), meaning it’s full of antioxidants, and also probiotics which are great for gut health. The sugar content is relatively low and comes from organic fruit instead of stevia or erythritol.”
JuneShine also uses a collection of unique ingredients from blood orange and mint to pineapple and activated charcoal to add a little zest to the probiotic party. Learn more about JuneShine.
Feeling thirsty? Now is as good a time as ever to join the kombucha revolution. Twist a top or pop a can open. And you can thank us in the morning.
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Last modified: November 8, 2019