Is kombucha tea healthy, what are the potential side effects, and what is a ‘scoby’? We explore the science behind this fermented fizzy drink.
Fermented food has soared in popularity in recent years, in part thanks to the ever increasing interest and research into gut health. Kombucha, a mildly fizzy, slightly sour drink, has become popular with health conscious consumers looking for an alternative to processed fizzy drinks that are often packed with sugar or artificial sweeteners. But is kombucha really good for you, or does it fall short of the media hype? We take a closer look at the potential benefits and side effects of this beverage.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from sweetened tea and a specific culture known as a scoby. Scoby stands for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts’. The bacteria and yeasts convert the sugar into ethanol and acetic acid. The acetic acid is what gives kombucha its distinctive sour taste.
How do you make kombucha?
Kombucha is usually made using:
- Cold filtered water
- Black/green tea (bags or loose leaf)
- Scoby – purchased online, or from an existing batch of kombucha
To make kombucha, the tea and sugar is steeped in boiled water and left to cool before adding the scoby. This is covered and left to ferment for up to a week. The mixture is then poured into an airtight container with some extra sugar and left for a few more days – the longer it is left, the fizzier it will become. At this point, flavourings such as spices or fruit can be added.