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Unveiling the Truth: What’s Inside Your Kombucha Cup

What you’re really drinking when you drink kombucha

You’re Drinking an Ancient Drink, Not a Trendy New Tea

Kombucha, the fermented tea-based beverage that has gained immense popularity in recent years, is not a recent invention. In fact, it has been consumed in China and other parts of Asia for thousands of years. According to Channel News Asia, kombucha has been a well-known health drink in China for centuries. It was later introduced to other Asian countries before making its way to the Western world.
The origins of kombucha can be traced back to northeastern China in 220 BC. It is believed to have been named after Dr. Kombu, a Korean physician who brought the drink to Japan. Over time, kombucha gained international fame and is now enjoyed by people all over the world.

At its core, it’s tea.

Kombucha may sound exotic and mysterious, but at its core, it is simply tea. According to Forbes, the brewing process starts with basic black or green tea. After steeping the tea leaves and sweetening the liquid, a two-step fermentation process takes place.
The first fermentation involves adding yeast and bacteria to the cooled tea. This fermentation step is critical to transforming the tea into kombucha. The second fermentation allows for the addition of flavorings, resulting in a variety of unique and delicious kombucha flavors.

Kombucha’s key ingredient is a colony of bacteria.

Living organisms such as yeast and bacteria are essential to the production of kombucha. These organisms are responsible for the fermentation process that turns tea into kombucha. However, there is no need to worry because the bacteria and yeast used in kombucha are not harmful to human health.
The bacteria and yeast form a symbiotic colony known as a scoby. This blob-like formation is added to the sweetened tea to initiate fermentation. It’s important to note that the scoby only remains alive when immersed in kombucha, so it must be obtained from a reliable source or purchased if you’re brewing kombucha at home.

There is no actual mushroom involved.

Contrary to popular belief, there are no fungi in kombucha. The term “kombucha mushroom” is often used to refer to the scoby, which is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. While the scoby may resemble a mushroom and contain microscopic fungi, it is not an actual mushroom.
It’s worth noting that mushrooms and fungi are not the same thing. So despite the presence of fungi in the scoby, there are no mushrooms used in the production of kombucha.

It has more polyphenols than regular tea

Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds found in plants that have various health benefits. Kombucha is known to be rich in polyphenols, which come primarily from the tea used in the brewing process. However, it’s important to note that regular tea, such as black or green tea, also contains polyphenols.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, fermentation can increase the polyphenol content in kombucha. This means that kombucha may provide an extra antioxidant boost compared to regular tea. However, if you’re specifically looking for polyphenols, drinking regular tea is also a viable option.

You can swallow some probiotics for your gut

One of the touted benefits of kombucha is its potential to support gut health due to the presence of probiotics. During the fermentation process, kombucha may contain beneficial bacteria that can contribute to a healthy gut microbiome.
However, it’s important to note that not all microbes in kombucha are necessarily probiotic. For a microbe to be classified as probiotic, it must meet specific criteria. In addition, it is still unclear whether the bacteria in kombucha can survive and thrive in the human gut.
While kombucha may contain some probiotics, the potential benefits may vary depending on factors such as processing and pasteurization. It’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet for gut health.

There’s always alcohol in kombucha

Due to the fermentation process, kombucha contains alcohol. The bacteria and yeast consume the sugar added to the tea, resulting in the production of alcohol. However, the alcohol content in commercial kombucha is generally low and below the legal limit for alcoholic beverages.
Home-brewed kombucha may have a higher alcohol content because the fermentation process is less controlled. It’s worth noting that the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau regulates alcoholic products with an alcohol content of 0.5% or more. Commercial kombuchas ensure that their alcohol content remains below this threshold.

There’s carbonation in flavored kombucha.

Carbonation occurs naturally during the fermentation and bottling process of kombucha. The second fermentation, which includes flavoring, contributes to the effervescence and fizz in flavored kombuchas. This carbonation gives kombucha a refreshing and sparkling quality.
It’s important to note that not all kombuchas are carbonated. Some brands may opt for a still or flat version that lacks the characteristic bubbles. If you prefer a sparkling kombucha, look for flavored options that mention carbonation on the label.

Kombucha is not a cure-all

While kombucha has gained a reputation as a health elixir, it’s important to approach its benefits with caution. Claims of kombucha’s health benefits are not supported by extensive scientific research. While some studies suggest potential positive effects on digestion, inflammation, and the immune system, more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.
It’s important to remember that individual experiences with kombucha may vary. Some people may find it beneficial to their health, while others may not notice any significant effects. As with any dietary supplement, it’s a good idea to consult with a health care professional before adding kombucha to your routine, especially if you have specific health concerns or are taking any medications.

Enjoy kombucha in moderation

As with any beverage, moderation is key when drinking kombucha. While it may be tempting to indulge in large quantities due to its perceived health benefits, excessive consumption of kombucha can lead to potential side effects.
The fermentation process in kombucha can result in the production of acetic acid and other organic acids. These acids can be harsh on the stomach and may cause digestive discomfort, especially in individuals with pre-existing digestive conditions.
In addition, kombucha contains small amounts of sugar, and flavored varieties may have added sugar. Excessive sugar intake can contribute to several health problems, including weight gain and dental problems. Be mindful of your overall sugar intake and opt for plain or low-sugar kombucha options if you’re concerned about your sugar intake.

Bottom Line

Kombucha is an ancient beverage with a fascinating history and a wide range of flavors and variations. While it has gained popularity as a health drink, it’s important to approach kombucha with a balanced perspective. Enjoy it as a refreshing and flavorful beverage, but be aware of its potential effects and consume it in moderation.
Remember that individual experiences with kombucha may vary, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you’re considering adding kombucha to your diet for specific health reasons, it’s always best to consult with a health professional to make sure it’s in line with your overall health goals.
In the end, kombucha can be a delightful and enjoyable addition to your beverage choices, offering a unique flavor and potential health benefits. So go ahead and enjoy a glass of kombucha knowing a little more about what’s in your cup. Cheers to good health!


Kombucha is not a recent invention. It has been consumed for thousands of years, especially in China and other parts of Asia.

What is Kombucha made of?

Kombucha is primarily made from tea fermented with yeast and bacteria. Additional flavors and sweeteners may be added during the brewing process.

Does kombucha contain probiotics?

Kombucha may contain beneficial bacteria often referred to as probiotics. However, specific probiotic levels can vary depending on factors such as processing and pasteurization.

Does kombucha contain alcohol?

Yes, kombucha contains alcohol. However, in commercial kombucha, the alcohol content is generally low and below the legal limit for alcoholic beverages.

Does flavored kombucha have carbonation?

Yes, flavored kombucha often has carbonation. The second fermentation process, which includes flavoring, contributes to the effervescence and carbonation in the beverage.

Are the health claims for kombucha supported by scientific research?

While some studies suggest potential beneficial effects of kombucha on digestion, inflammation, and the immune system, more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions. The health claims surrounding kombucha are not yet fully supported by extensive scientific evidence.

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