What smells like beer, tastes like carbonated vinegar and looks like something you forgot in the back of the refrigerator a couple months ago?
Slightly fizzy, a little bit vinegar-y and many parts delicious, Kombucha has been popping up on shelves everywhere and in the hands of the yoga-mat-toting crowd. Ranging in flavors from cherry root to lemon ginger, Kombucha has been claimed to cure anything from hangovers to stomach aches. To uncover the mystery of Kombucha, the first question is:
What is Kombucha made of?
Kombucha is a fermented tea, not a magic mushroom. It is brewed by adding a culture of bacteria and yeast to a solution of tea, sugar and sometimes fruit juice and other flavorings to give it fun names such as “strawberry sensation” and “raspberry rush.” With only 30 calories per bottle on average, it is a great alternative to soda. If you find remnants of bacteria floating in it, don’t fret; nature is just taking its course in your bottle.
If you’re looking for a way to piss off your roommates, home brewing Kombucha is an option—you can buy a culture starter and let it ferment in a jar for 14 days, infusing your room with the aroma of vinegar and stale beer.
Is Kombucha actually good for you?
According to this Washington Post article, no solid research has been done on the health effects of Kombucha, most of it being urban legend spread by your juice cleanse-crazed friend. But don’t worry, even though Kombucha may not cure cancer, it’s rich in probiotics, aka bacteria that’s good for your gut. Probiotics have been shown to boost immunity and overall health.
Conclusion: If you’re feeling sick or stressed out, Kombucha can’t hurt your mission to keep the plague away. Make sure to buy unpasteurized and raw Kombucha, because the pasteurization process kills all that immune-boosting bacteria.
Can I get drunk off Kombucha?
All the fermentation occuring in Kombucha can cause it to develop alcohol, however the government requires that a beverage must have less than 0.5 percent alcohol (a trace amount) if it is to be sold as a nonalcoholic drink. Obama, why you gotta be such a buzzkill? If you’re passionate about getting drunk off Kombucha, you can brew your own and pretend to be healthy while getting wasted.
Where can I get Kombucha?
Now that you know all about Kombucha, you’re ready to set out into the world and try it for yourself. Whole Foods has a large selection of Kombucha and a wide range of flavors. Make sure to try Capital Kombucha, brewed right here in the District. Whole Foods also has Kombucha on tap—the ginger flavor is highly recommended.
For more information on Kombucha’s health benefits, check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.
If you want to make your own, this is a great how-to guide from The Kitchn.