There’s no such thing as bad publicity — or so the saying goes. Which may or may not be true, but it seems that the great flapdoodle over kombucha last summer only served to make this once cultish beverage better known to many consumers. To summarize briefly, it began in Summer of 2010 when Whole Foods announced that it would pull its stock of kombucha beverages from shelves because of the possible alcohol content of said beverages. Which seemed like a tempest in a teapot, but kombucha manufacturers probably benefited in the long run.
For those who haven’t heard of it or who have heard of it but aren’t sure what it is, kombucha is defined by Merriam-Webster as ” a gelatinous mass of symbiotic bacteria (as Acetobacter xylinum) and yeasts (as of the genera Brettanomyces and Saccharomyces) grown to produce a fermented beverage held to confer health benefits.”
For tea drinkers, the other definition for kombucha is even more relevant, “the beverage prepared by fermenting kombucha with black tea and sugar.” Because, while a gelatinous mass doesn’t seem like a terribly appetizing substance to make a beverage with, the somewhat vinegary taste of kombucha can be made rather palatable by mixing it with tea of nearly any type and adding assorted and sundry other ingredients.
It would take more space and expertise than I have to do the subject of kombucha justice, but you can get a great overview at Wikipedia and in this New York Times article from 2010. The latter discusses the avid enthusiasts who make up the kombucha community and the relatively rapid rise in commercially manufactured kombucha beverages in recent years. The latter are such an up and comer that trade publisher BevNET.com named GTs Kombucha their product of the year for 2010.
One of the primary attractions of kombucha, for many, is, much as in the case of tea, the range of health benefits that have been attributed to it. While this Mayo Clinic article and the aforementioned New York Times article both suggest that these claims might be overstated, adherents of kombucha remain enthusiastic nonetheless. For yet another examination of the alleged health benefits of kombucha, take a look at this article from Mother Jones magazine.
Don’t miss William’s take on more offbeat tea drinks!
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