For the vast majority of people in the world, the word kombucha probably means absolutely nothing. At this point anyone who does know anything about it is likely to be in one of two groups – a small group of hardcore kombucha fans and enthusiasts or those in the greater population who first became aware of it thanks to the Whole Foods incident.
If you missed out on this news issue, here’s a quick refresher. In early summer of 2010 Whole Foods Market took unpasteurized versions of bottled kombucha from its store shelves due to the fact that the alcohol content might be too high for what is considered a non-alcoholic beverage. For more background on this issue, refer to this article in the New York Times.
Since then numerous kombucha sellers, including Honest Tea and High Country kombucha, have retooled their products and begun making their way back to store shelves. For more on this part of the saga, check out this interview with one of High Country’s VPs.
Which is all well and good and interesting enough, but what is kombucha anyway? Wikipedia refers to it as “a fermented tea that is often drunk for medicinal purposes,” while Honest Tea calls it “a fermented tea with Chinese and Russian origins once referred to as the ‘elixir of life’ due to its probiotic properties believed to aid in digestion and support immunity. Kombucha is made by fermenting black or green tea and sugar with a culture of various bacteria and yeasts.”
In the strictest sense of the word, kombucha is not actually a tea at all, but rather a fermented beverage made by steeping a mass of yeast and bacteria that resembles a large mushroom for a period of up to several weeks. Where tea comes into the picture is that it’s often combined with kombucha or used as the base liquid in which to steep the culture.
Which doesn’t really begin to do this interesting topic justice, nor does it cover in much depth the many people who adamantly swear by the beverage and its wide range of alleged health benefits. If you’re looking for a good starting point in your further researches on kombucha, Wikipedia is probably as good a place to get rolling as any. For more on the possible health benefits of this beverage check out this report from the Mayo Clinic.
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