Kombucha comes from China, where its use has been documented since 220 BCE. There it was known as the “tea of immortality”. It emerged later in 400 CE in Japan, where it derived its present name when a Korean physician named Kombu treated the Japanese Emperor Inyko with the fermented tea. “Cha” is the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean word for “tea”. Kombucha became known in Russia in the 1900’s, where it was called “chaynyy grib”, and its use then spread to other parts of Europe. It was first documented in Germany in 1913. It was not until the mid 1990’s when it became popular in the United States.
Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented drink which has some sweetness to it. It utilizes a SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast to ferment a mix of tea and sugar, usually black or green tea. One SCOBY can last you for years if you keep using the same culture over and over again. The yeast component commonly contains Saccharomyces, and the bacteria component frequently has Gluconacetobacter xylinus to oxidize the alcohol produced by yeast into acetic acid and other acids. There may be other microbes in the SCOBY as well. The SCOBY converts the sugar (sucrose) in the tea to fructose and glucose. Also produced are gluconic acid, glucuronic acid, acetic acid, butryic acid, malic acid, usnic acid, and lactic acid. B vitamins and vitamin C can be found in kombucha, as well as amino acids, enzymes, and about 1% alcohol.
Although many anecdotal health claims have been made about kombucha, there isn’t much scientific evidence to validate those claims.
If You Haven’t Already, Try it.
I drink kombucha because it tastes good, is pleasantly fizzy, and it isn’t a sugary drink. For some people trying kombucha for the first time, they may not like the taste right away. I liked the taste from the beginning, especially the subtle sweetness.
If you want to learn how to make your own kombucha, go here.
Green Cuisine Now Makes Kombucha
The flavours available are natural, root beer, and ginger, and they have been becoming quite popular since hitting the shelves.
Did you know that the kombucha SCOBY can be used to make clothing? When the culture is dried, the microbial cellulose becomes like leather, and can be dyed with natural dyes to produce a sustainable, biodegradable textile. For instance, check this out!