Originating in Northeast China,1 kombucha is a fermented tea, enriched with probiotics and antioxidants, that has been around since approximately 200 B.C. Though kombucha is said to harnesses the same benefits as tea, the main differences between tea and kombucha are the addition of certain strains of bacteria, yeast, and sugar and the fermentation processes. To boot, kombucha is carbonated and tends to be more bitter in taste, compared to the tea from which it was made.
Typically, the bacteria, yeast, and sugar are added to a base of a tea (green or black tea are most common). Then, the mixture is fermented for at least a week. The first fermentation process allows the bacteria to multiply and, along with the yeast, consume most of the sugar, enhancing the beverage’s probiotic content, which will provide the gut with an abundance of healthy bacteria as well as convert the tea into a slightly sour and lightly carbonated drink. But the overall flavor and supplementary health benefits of kombucha depend on the type of tea used and any other dietary additives.
For the second fermentation process, flavoring ingredients, such as spices, fruits, and/or honey, are added to the kombucha, which is then set aside for an additional 3 to 10 days. Added ingredients for the second fermentation process can also be tailored to enhancing select nutrients that target specific medical conditions and symptoms (i.e., anti-inflammatory). Popular flavors of kombucha include lemon ginger, blueberry, strawberry, mint lime mojito, and apple cinnamon.
- Troitino C. Kombucha 101: demystifying the past, present and future of the fermented tea drink. 1 Feb 2017. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinatroitino/2017/02/01/ kombucha-101-demystifying-the-past-present-and-future-of-the-fermented-tea- drink/?sh=291aece84ae2. Accessed 11 Jan 2021.
- Jayabalan R, Malbaša RV, Lončar ES, et al. A review on kombucha tea—microbiology, composition, fermentation, beneficial effects, toxicity, and tea fungus. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2014;13(4):538–550.
- Chakravorty S, Bhattacharya S, Chatzinotas A, et al. Kombucha tea fermentation: microbial and biochemical dynamics. Int J Food Microbiol. 2016;220:63–72.
- Mayser P, Fromme S, Leitzmann C, Gründer K. The yeast spectrum of the ‘tea fungus Kombucha’. Mycoses. 1995;38(7-8):289–295.
- Live. Eat. Learn site. 19 best kombucha flavors. 8 Dec 2019. https://www.liveeatlearn. com/best-kombucha-flavors/. Accessed 11 Jan 2021.