What is Kombucha?
If you’ve ever had a close encounter with kombucha, it’s probably because a chic barista said, “Trust me, you’re going to love this.”
What is kombucha and should we care?
Kombucha has tended to be a hipster cafe favourite, but now it’s breaking out into the mainstream and is becoming quite the rage. So yes, maybe we should care in case we’re missing out on something good.
What does it taste like?
Different, would be one word. Like a sour, vinegary apple cider would be six more.
Still with us? Okay, let’s delve deeper.
Kombucha’s base is either black or green tea, depending on the maker. Then sugar, fermented with a tea fungus, is added to that, plus various flavourings. Sound yummy?
So what are the health claims?
Health claim one: kombucha is good news for our gut
As the theory goes, healthy bacteria are good for our gut. They settle in there and may have some positive impact on a range of fairly important things. Apparently, they might reduce food cravings, thus helping with weight loss. They may help to moderate moods and reduce stress levels.
May, may and may. None of this has, as yet, been researched so no one is prepared to hang their professional hat on it. Fair enough.
And even if kombucha does contain these potentially healthy bacteria, who’s to say they’ll consider our gut a desirable place to live? There are no guarantees they’ll choose to move in permanently. In fact, experts are inclined to believe that for live bacteria to populate our gut in the sort of numbers required to make a difference, you’d need kombucha constantly.
Health claim two: kombucha can counter diabetes, high cholesterol and cancer
Not to mention, detoxifying blood, fixing gut ulcers and counteracting ageing.
Small problem: apparently none of these claims have as yet been tested on humans, only animals.
How can we confirm the findings and confirm if humans will react the same? As yet there are no published studies that prove kombucha does anything even vaguely therapeutic.
Should we drink kombucha?
Why not? The Chinese have been doing so for 2000 years without any obvious side effects. Recently, hipsters have been drinking it as well with... no, let’s stick with the Chinese.
Basically, when the dust settles on this new craze, kombucha will probably be no better for you than tea or any other fermented drink. Let’s see some human tests and leave the animals.
In the meantime, if you like the taste, drink away.