Kombucha is a sweet and lightly effervescent probiotic health drink made from any black or green tea. The drink is produced by fermenting tea using a symbiotic 'colony' of bacteria and yeast which feed off of sugar. Depending on what kind of tea and/or fruit juices are used, the drink can taste similarly to sparkling juice or champaign.
Kombucha is very slightly alcoholic due to the yeasts, but only in minute amounts, as the bacteria in the culture turn alcohol into organic acids. By the end of the fermentation process, typically only about 1% alcohol volume remains in the brew.
History and Health
Records of Komucha's use date back to as early 221 BC China, where it was known as "The Tea of Immortality". According to legend the name "Kombucha" comes from Japan in 415 AD, when a Korean physician called Kombu (or Kambu) treated the Emperor, Inyko, with this magical tea. "Kombu-cha" was named after the Kombu the physician, with the addition of "cha" meaning tea.
Extensive research was done on the health benefits of Kombucha in Russia in the first half of the 20th century, when Russian scientists were searching for a cure for cancer. Much to their surprise, they discovered that entire regions of Russia were seemingly immune to cancer, and Kombucha (known as "tea knvass there) seemed to be at the root of it. Unfortunately the research was never completed due to attention and resources being diverted into the Cold War.
Kombucha has only recently become popular in the West, but people are continuing to report health benefits including improvement in energy levels, and aiding in fighting metabolic disorders, allergies, cancer, digestive problems, candidiasis, hypertension, HIV, chronic fatigue and arthritis.