What is Kombucha?

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Kombucha [pronounced: com-BOO-tcha] is a fermented, naturally effervescent, semi-sweet tea beverage. Although the exact origin of the culture is unknown, the history of kombucha has its roots in the ancient Far East (China, Russia) thousands of years ago.

Kombucha begins simply as tea, sugar and a culture (S.C.O.B.Y.*) and during the process of fermentation, it develops a pleasant sweet-sour taste (similar to cider) and a healthy array of vital organic acids, probiotics, Vitamins B and C, etc.

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The process is very similar to that of making many fermented beverages, like beer, wine and vinegar. However, what makes kombucha so special is the kombucha culture. It contains both bacteria (of the geni Acetobacter, Gluconobacter and Lactobacillus) and yeasts (such as brewer’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, for example). During the fermentation process, the yeasts feed on the sugars in the starter tea and produce ethanol (alcohol), while the bacteria breaks down and converts the alcohol further into a variety of organic acids (such as acetic acid, gluconic acid, malic acid, ascorbic acid, oxalic acid,  etc.), research of which has shown them to be beneficial to the digestive and immune systems among others.

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While some of the health benefits from kombucha consumption are derived from the presence of the above-mentioned organic acids, vitamins and probiotics in it, additional benefits may be attributed to the compounds in the teas used to make the kombucha with. Powerful antioxidants from the Camellia sinensis (tea) plant, such as catechins and theaflavins, are shown to help reduce/eliminate oxidative damage to tissues and fight cancer-causing free radicals in the body, as well as protecting from cardiovascular diseases in numerous ways.

The kombucha ferment has served as a folk remedy for many ailments and has been drunk daily by many as a tool for regulating and optimizing digestion, and for strengthening immune response, among many other purposes.

*S.C.O.B.Y. = Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast