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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Super Juice - the Benefits of Kombucha

Apr 30, 2014 05:12AM


Although Kombucha may seem like it is the latest new thing that many foodies and nutrition experts have "discovered," this fermented tea has ancient roots in China and India. For more than 2,000 years, it has been used for its digestive properties, while providing a link from generation to generation in traditional families, who pass the essential ingredients (and their secrets) from mother to daughter.

Kombucha gets its name from the microorganisms that float in a flat pancake-like shape on top of brewing tea. SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is the "mother culture" that makes the magic of kombucha happen and is often shared as it is passed down from generation to generation, or from friend to friend. The SCOBY is added to black tea and mixed with a small amount of sugar and other natural flavorings.

Fermentation produces the beneficial bugs that are found in probiotic dairy drinks such as yogurt and kefir, as well as prebiotics, also known to generate microorganisms that support healthy digestion. A small amount of alcohol is produced in the fermentation of kombucha, but this process also generates a host of beneficial elements such a B vitamins, microflora, enzymes and organic acids, each with its own healing properties. Enzymes, working with the acids, help aid digestion, by enabling nutrient absorption and waste removal, while supporting the immune system. The body relies on B vitamins to boost energy and to support the body’s metabolic functions, heart health and the maintenance of skin, nails and hair.

While many varieties of kombucha may have a slightly sour taste, if made with herbs, like basil, or fruits, like strawberries or orange zest, the sourness is overwhelmed with flavor and the goodness of the healthy natural additions. One local brewer of kombucha, Ralph Crafts, has a whole menu of Made to Order Kombuchas ( Lime Basil and Orange or his newest addition, Hops, which is a great, healthy alternative to beer.

While brewing kombucha at home is possible, there have been reported incidents of illness and hospitalization that appear to be the result of homebrewed kombucha made from the same SCOBY. The FDA reports that drinking kombucha in normal quantities (about four ounces a day) should not cause adverse effects in healthy persons; however, the potential health risks are unknown for those with preexisting health problems or those who drink excessive amounts. Even some commercially produced kombucha is known to concern those who wish to live GMO-free, so it is wise to know the source of all the ingredients. However, local options are available. MTO Kombucha is completely GMO-free, vegan and organically made in a geothermal-fueled brewery in Warrenton, Virginia.

Every regular drinker of kombucha has a story of how the fermented tea has helped them personally; either by jolting them with lots of natural (rather than caffeine-inspired) energy, dissipating their symptoms of acid reflux or lessening their chronic health issues. 

To learn more about Kombucha and to try a local brew, visit



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