It's that funny looking drink which has been around for centuries, passed on from generation to generation, made in small batches at home by family and friends. Today kombucha is the fastest growing category of natural functional drinks. But what is "come-boe-tschaa" really?
"Kombucha" may be a difficult name, the drink itself is actually easily explained. All kombucha starts as a sweetened tea. Regular black or green tea will do just fine. Preferably organic if possible.
That tea can then be fermented, just as beer, wine, yoghurt or sauerkraut is fermented. Every fermented food or drink uses its own specific set of microorganisms. Kombucha is fermented with a "scoby". Scoby stands for "Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast". The scoby feeds on the sugar that is added to the tea.
How it's made
Kombucha is traditionally made with just water, tea, sugar and the scoby. After the sweetened tea is made, you let it cool down before you add the scoby.
From that moment on, the magic happens. In a period of about 1 month (depending on the temperature and the size of the vessel) the scoby will 'eat' the sugar in the sweet tea and turn it into tasty and lightly sparkling kombucha, which is actually very low in sugar, caffeine and calories.
Every few days you taste test the kombucha to see if the flavour profile is changing to your desire. Once the balance between pleasantly sweet and refreshingly tart hits the right spot, it's time to take the scoby out and stop the fermentation.
At this point, you either drink the plain kombucha as is, or add herbs and fruits to create different flavours. The possibilities are endless so we encourage to experiment and let your creativity flow.
Despite the seemingly recent boom, nobody knows for sure where kombucha originated but it's probably somewhere in the ancient Far East. Some historians date the origin of kombucha to 220 B.C. in the Manchurian region of China.
Hopping along trade routes and eventually spreading through Eastern and Western Europe, its popularity has been traced from fifth century Japanese Imperial Courts to Russian Babushkas during the Soviet era.
Our favourite myth tells the story of a Tibetan monk who allowed a fresh pot of tea to cool down outside. A calm mountain breeze carried wild yeast which landed in the sweet tea. The teapot was forgotten and a culture was able to form, thus fermenting the tea into delicious kombucha. After discovering the wonderful properties of this fortunate incident, the monk shared his blessed gift with friends, and the rest is history.
The health benefits of kombucha has been the subject of massive debate. Scientists all over the world continue researching the claimed medicinal properties to shed more light on this subject.
Many proponents drink kombucha for its naturally occurring living microorganisms. Every bottle of unpasteurized kombucha counts billions of those living cells, which can support the digestion.
Besides being a living drink, the fermentation process also transforms the sugars into organic acids, such as lactic acid, acetic acid and gluconic acid. Those acids can help to cleanse and strengthen the organs, and correct acidic ph levels.
And because kombucha is tea based, it also contains bioavailable antioxidants, which support overall wellbeing and balanced health.