What is Kambucha?, Written by: Kayte Corrigan

imageYou may have glanced at what’s for sale in the fridge at HIP. And you may be wondering what that weird drink is next to the water? Some have referred to it as health tonic, but what is this fizzy tea drink all about and where did it come from? Although it’s often mistaken for a mushroom, Kambucha is comprised of water, tea, sugar and a fermenting culture called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) after about 10 days of natural fermentation. This bacteria culture is a flat jelly pancake-like substance from which the drink is made, and also giving it’s mushroom alias. Once the sugar goes through the fermentation process there will only be 2-3 grams per 8oz glass. Compared to 24g of sugar in a glass of orange juice, sugar simply acts as a vehicle for fermentation of the tea.

It’s been said to have been used for thousands of years but the origin of Kambucha is unclear. Some say Manchuria in 220 B.C. and eventually traveling to Russia and through Europe before finding it’s way into the health conscious homes in the western world around the 1970s.

Kambucha tea harbors powerful antioxidants, probiotic properties and organic acids aid in digestion, detoxification, and aiding the immune system. SCOBY is a living organism, for an enzyme rich drink. The health claims have been as far fetched as reversing grey hair and curing cancer, although there is no scientific evidence.

A bottle of Kambucha contains over 1 billion probiotics to aid in digestion. Because the tea is raw, living and unpasteurized, new users are advised to introduce it to their diet slowly. If you’re curious, don’t be shy. Try a bottle after your next class at HIP.

**There is limited scientific research on Kambucha for its benefits and a lack of studies involving the fermented tea drink. Kanbucha can be brewed at home, but it’s not recommended as there have been reported cases of toxicity resulting from improper preparation.