Kombucha is a fermented type of tea that some people believe originated in China but others believe was invented in Russia. It is just slightly alcoholic, just slightly fizzy and is made by black or green tea. Black tea is tea that's been allowed to oxidize for a longer time than other types of tea, while green tea has undergone oxidation for as little time as possible.
What's In It?
This healthful tea is made to ferment using a culture made of yeast and bacteria. In this, the production of the tea resembles the production of yogurt. The yeast is usually made up of yeasts called Saccharomyces, Candida stellata, Brettanomyces bruxellensis or Zygosaccharomyces bailii. At least one type of bacteria is Gluconacetobacter xylinus. The bacteria stops the yeast from producing too much alcohol.
After a while, the yeast and bacteria form a mat within the tea called a mother. The creation of this mother is mostly the work of the bacteria. In the end, the tea, yeast and bacteria combine to form a drink that is rich in nutrients, including amino acids and enzymes, vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins.
What It's Good For
There are many reasons why people drink kombucha. The wealth of nutrients and probiotics in the tea have startling positive health effects on the body. It balances the internal pH so that the body is neither too acidic nor too alkaline. The fermented tea is also an excellent liver cleanse and helps to improve digestion. It supports the body's production of collagen and thus eases the symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism and gout. Studies have shown it has a role in the prevention of cancer.
The tea is also used to ease constipation, lower high blood pressure and lower the incidence of kidney stones. It also relieves severe headaches such as migraines and such skin conditions as eczema. In the case of eczema, the tea can be applied directly to the skin. Since the tea is high in antioxidants, it prevents cell damage overall and allows cells to regenerate in a healthy way. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radical molecules, which injure cells by grabbing electrons from their DNA molecules.
People who drink the tea report that their eyesight has improved and any candida or yeast infections they have are cleared up. Most notably, they also report that they have fewer gray hairs, and their new hair grows in thick and in its original color. The fermented tea also seems to control the levels of blood sugar, or glucose. This is good news for diabetics, who have problems with blood sugar control.
Believe it or not, the mother can be taken out of the tea, dried and used to make fabric. The color of the fabric depends on the color of the liquid the mother was grown in.
What's In a Name?
The name sounds vaguely Asian but is actually the English word for this health-giving tea. In China it has a few names, including hóngchájùn, cháméijūn or hóngchágū. Each name stresses either the tea or fungal components of the drink. In Japan it's called kōcha kinoko. Konbucha, which sounds similar, has nothing to do with the tea but is a drink made from sea vegetables. In Russia the fermented tea is called chaynyy grib, while in Korea the tea is known as hongchabeoseotcha.