How often should you drink kombucha tea, if you should even drink it at all?
The first time I heard of kombucha I thought it sounded like something mysterious and foreign. I’ll try foreign, but mysterious? Since I’m always looking for ways to improve my overall health, I decided to give this tangy beverage a go.
I quickly learned to love this tasty drink and discovered that kombucha consumption is a great way to add the good bacteria you need to maintain a healthy gut. And I think it’s a great alternative to another cup of coffee or tea in the morning.
In recent years, this fermented tea drink has risen in popularity as a wellness potion – but that also begs the question, is too much kombucha a good thing, or a bad thing?
Read on to find out exactly what this fermented beverage is, why it’s so good for you, and how much and how often you should drink kombucha tea for the best health results.
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What is kombucha tea?
Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made from black tea and sugar. It’s said to have several health benefits, including gut health, weight loss, and increased energy.
Kombucha is made when a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, also known as SCOBY, is added to sweetened tea.
Fermentation happens when the bacteria or yeast (in this case the SCOBY) eats the sugar.
The fermentation process of kombucha is what gives this health drink its probiotic benefits, fizz, and tangy taste.
What makes the whole process of kombucha brewing unique is that it is fermented twice. The tea sits for 7 – 10 days to ferment to allow the SCOBY to consume the sugar. Once this has happened, the SCOBY is removed, the tea is bottled with some fruit or sugar, and the carbonation process begins.
Fruit juice, spices, or other flavorings are also added for some flavor and added nutrition during the second fermentation process.
What does kombucha taste like?
Some say it is an acquired taste as it has a slight tang, and a pop of fizz and feels like a little party happening in your mouth! The tangy taste of kombucha is one of my favorite things about this healthful beverage.
The taste of kombucha is always a little sour but can vary depending on the ingredients used.
Health benefits of kombucha tea
Kombucha is a cold fizzy drink that can give you a slight caffeine kick. Beyond that, it has many health benefits.
Even though kombucha tea can be traced back to ancient China, not a lot of research has been conducted on its health benefits for humans.
‘Raw’ or unpasteurized kombucha contains healthy bacteria such as acetic acid bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and yeasts with probiotic content. These probiotics can help provide your gut with healthy bacteria.
Since your gut is the bedrock of your immune system, strengthening your gut is always a good idea.
Since kombucha starts with healthy black or green tea as a base, it’s full of the same antioxidants you’ll find in these healthy teas. These antioxidants help fight free radicals that can be the cause of certain kinds of cancer.
Kombucha contains acetic acid, a potent antimicrobial, which can help bolster your immune system.
When kombucha is made with green tea, it may lead to a faster metabolism. The EGCG found in green tea has been studied and shown to improve fat oxidation, so if you’re looking to lose weight, adding kombucha to your daily routine may be helpful.
The probiotics in kombucha have been proven to help digestive and gastrointestinal issues like constipation, bloating, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
May Help Heart Disease
More studies in humans are required, but initial findings in rats show that kombucha can lower the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
For inflammation in the gut caused by an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, adding kombucha to your diet can help get your gut back on track.
Animal studies showed the potential of kombucha to detoxify the body and improve liver health.
May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Another study in rats showed that kombucha was an effective inhibitor of increased blood glucose levels.
Even without tons of scientific evidence, most kombucha drinkers swear it has helped them to lose weight, get control of their digestive tract, and even improve their mental health. (I know that when I’m doing something healthy, I always have a more positive outlook.)
Fermented Foods Are Healthy
All fermented foods have one thing in common: they all go through a process in which bacteria and yeast break down sugars. Humans have been fermenting foods to prolong the shelf life for hundreds of years. It’s just a happy coincidence that this method of preserving also has great health benefits.
Experts agree that adding a serving or two to your daily diet is both smart and beneficial. The probiotics that are created during the fermentation process are associated with so many health benefits.
After you try kombucha, why not try these other delicious healthy fermented foods:
- Lacto-fermented pickles
Side Effects of Kombucha tea
According to the Mayo Clinic, side effects of kombucha tea include:
- Allergic reactions
- Stomach upset
- Risks due to home brewing in unsanitary conditions
- Drinking too much can lead to lactic acidosis
When you start drinking kombucha, start with a few ounces of kombucha a day to see how your body reacts.
Can Pregnant women drink Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha tea is not recommended for pregnant women or nursing moms. It contains live bacteria that may or may not contain pathogens that could be potentially dangerous. Generally speaking, pregnant women should avoid unpasteurized drinks or anything containing alcohol.
How often should you drink kombucha tea?
Keeping your gut healthy is something you should think about daily, so drinking kombucha is something that you should do every day.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends four ounces of kombucha, up to three times a day.
When is the best time to drink kombucha?
The best time to drink kombucha can depend on the benefit you’re looking for. While there is no bad time to drink it, here are some suggestions:
- To give the beneficial bacteria the best shot of making it into your digestive system, try drinking a small glass of kombucha first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Before or during a meal to help with digestion.
- Anytime you need an energy boost.
- As a replacement during cocktail hour.
How much Alcohol is in Kombucha?
The alcohol content varies depending on the fermentation process and the longer you leave it to ferment, the stronger it becomes. But, the way it’s made limits the amount of alcohol produced in each batch.
Most commercially available brews contain about 0.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), which lands them in the category of non-alcoholic beverages. Even though there are trace amounts of alcohol in each serving of kombucha, it’s become one of my favorite non-alcoholic beverages.
Hard kombucha is now available in grocery stores. If you’re looking for an alcoholic drink with less sugar and probiotic beneficial bacteria, you may want to switch up your beer or wine for a bottle of this.
Is there Caffeine in Kombucha?
Because the base of kombucha is normally black or green tea, the final product does contain a small amount of caffeine, similar to the amount of caffeine in a cup of black tea.
Should you Drink the Sediment at the Bottom of a Bottle?
The sediment at the bottom of your kombucha is totally safe to drink and even beneficial. Try gently shaking the bottle to mix it back in before you pour it. If you really don’t like it, you can strain it out or discard the last bit along with the sediment.
What are Popular Kombucha Flavors?
Since you can add all kinds of fruits and spices during secondary fermentation, there are tons of possible flavors out there. Here are some of the most popular on the market:
- Apple Cinnamon
Can You Make Kombucha at Home?
Yes! One of the great things about it is that it is easy to ferment homemade brews in your own kitchen. You can even vary the added flavors to suit your own taste.
I’ve personally brewed up my own kombucha in at least 7 delicious kombucha flavors that I can tell you about.
If you want to brew up your own batch, you’ll have more success with either black or green tea as your base. It’s also important to make sure all your brewing vessels and bottles are super clean.
The website KombuchaKamp is a great resource for products and recipes to get your brewing off on the right foot. There are even instructions for making your own SCOBY if you don’t want to purchase one.
Basic Kombucha Recipe
Ingredients & Supplies:
- 7 cups filtered water
- ½ cup white sugar
- 4 black tea bags
- 1 cup of kombucha
- 1 SCOBY
- 1-gallon glass jar
- Sweetener/fruit for the second fermentation
- Flip top bottles for an airtight seal
Step 1: Make the Sweet Tea
- Bring water to a boil, and remove from heat.
- Stir in the sugar and add tea bags.
- Let the tea steep as the water cools to room temperature.
Step 2: First Fermentation
- Add cooled sweetened tea, kombucha, and the SCOBY to a large glass jar.
- Cover with a tightly woven cloth.
- Place the jar in a dark place at room temperature for 6 days.
- Taste the kombucha: it should be slightly sweet and taste like mild vinegar. If not to your liking, ferment for a day or two more.
Step 3: Second Fermentation
- Strain kombucha into flip-top bottles leaving about 1.5 inches at the top.
- Add 1 tablespoon of mashed fruit or fruit juice to each bottle and seal with the lid.
- Ferment in the dark at room temperature for 5-10 days.
- Enjoy your healthy carbonated kombucha!
- Be careful during the second fermentation because bottles can pop their tops! The more sweetener/fruit you add the faster it will carbonate.
- Refrigeration slows down the fermentation
Kombucha is Delicious and Healthful
If you want to add the goodness of kombucha drinks to your diet, the best way to get the potential benefits is to consume it daily. You don’t even need to drink an entire bottle of kombucha to get the benefits. Just 4 ounces of kombucha every morning is enough to improve your gut health and reap the health benefits. So bottoms up!