Kombucha Tea is an acquired taste; one, however, that has soared in popularity. In 2017, U.S. sales reached $500 million (£393,850,000 GBP), this is due to the Kombucha Tea benefits. This is set to increase dramatically by 2020, with analysts suggesting global sales reaching $2 billion (£157,594,000,000 GBP).

That sounds like a lot of money for a beverage you might never have heard of. So what is Kombucha Tea? How do you make it? What does it taste like? And why is it so popular right now? We will answer these questions and many more in this article.

What is Kombucha Tea?

What is Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha is a sweetened, fizzy, fermented and slightly alcoholic beverage that can vary in Types of Tea from Black to Green to even White Tea. Bizarre as it might sound, it remains a particularly popular drink in China, Japan and Russia. However, it is now spreading westward thanks in part to its Kombucha Tea benefits.

Regardless of the type used, the leaves must originate from the Camellia sinensis (Tea) plant as opposed to Herbal or Fruit Tea. This is because most other ingredients lack the necessary nutrients required to make Kombucha.

The fermentation process is what makes this Tea so extraordinary. This has many effects. First, it creates carbon dioxide (CO2) and a variety of acids, including lactic acid, acetic acid, propionic acid, gluconic acid and glucuronic acid. Second, it turns the natural sugars into ethanol, thus making it alcoholic, varying in strength from 0.5% to 2%.

Helping the fermentation along is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, commonly known as a SCOBY. This is a thick, round, floating microbial colony that looks very much like a mushroom. As such, many people nickname it Mushroom Tea or Fungus Tea.

Doesn’t sound appealing, right? As the saying goes, “never judge a book by its cover”. This is never truer than with Kombucha Tea and the benefits. Indeed, after a 30 day fermentation period, the result is surprisingly pleasant, if a little ‘different’. It typically boasts a unique bittersweet balance with vinegary undertones reminiscent of sparkling cider.

History and Culture

History and Culture

No one knows where this Tea came from, nor how long ago. Some records suggest it came into existence as early as 2,000 years ago, and others as recently as 200 years ago. There is speculation that it originates from the northeast of China, although we’ll likely never know for sure. At one stage or another, however, it became associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

By the early 20th Century, it had arrived in eastern Russia where it quickly became popular. After the First World War (1914-1918), a German doctor named Rudolf Sklenar witnessed a Russian peasant tending to an injured soldier using Kombucha. As a result, he took some back to his homeland where there, too, it became much sought after over time.

Throughout the 1920s and 30s, German and Russian studies recorded some of the first known Kombucha Tea benefits. This included its use as a digestive aid and its ability to reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes (more on that later!).

It was during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) of China, however, that its true potential was realised. Kombucha Fermented Tea became a ‘must-have’ in the households of thousands. It went by many names, including “Sea Treasure” (海寶) “haibao/haipao”, “Stomach Treasure” (胃寶) “weibao/weipao”, “Sea Mushroom”(海蘑菇) and “haimogu”.

As of the 21st Century, the focus seems to be on Kombucha Tea health benefits. Like any Tea to originate from the Camellia sinensis plant, this beverage contains a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, unlike other Teas, it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve!

Kombucha Tea Caffeine

Kombucha Tea Caffeine

The inclusion of Tea leaves ensures that Kombucha Tea has at least some caffeine content. While the fermentation process cuts down this amount significantly, on average about ⅓ of its caffeine content remains. The precise amount varies depending on the length of the fermentation period. Some suggest 8-14 mg per 8 oz serving, although this is more an estimate.

It also depends on the type of Tea used in its making. Before fermentation takes place, White Tea contains around 15 milligrams per 8 oz serving. Next is Green Tea, which contains around 30 mg. Finally, Black Tea contains, on average, 45 milligrams.

Wait, Kombucha contains caffeine and alcohol? Yes, but only very little of both. Indeed, you’d have to drink vast quantities of this beverage to get a buzz! That ‘buzz’ applies to Caffeine in Tea as much as it does alcohol. Instead, most drink it for its taste and Kombucha Tea benefits.

Kombucha Tea Benefits

Kombucha Tea Benefits

What makes Kombucha Tea benefits so special? Probiotic bacteria. This is according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Food Microbiology. It established that probiotics found in this Tea, a product of the fermentation process, are, in essence, healthy bacteria. Such are its beneficial qualities, in fact, that it can improve our daily life in myriad ways.

Australian author of “Kombucha Teaology”, Harald W. Tietze, has long touted Kombucha Tea benefits. With years of research and experience, he has noted reports of it effectively treating disorders, including arthritis, asthma, bladder stones, chronic fatigue syndrome, constipation, diabetes, hay fever, heartburn, high blood pressure/cholesterol and rheumatism.

The question begs: is there any truth to Kombucha Tea benefits? Or is it just another fad? The research looks promising, to say the least. Indeed, evidence mounts with each passing year. Let’s look at this in more depth and find out more about Kombucha Tea benefits.

Kombucha Tea and Fatty Liver

Kombucha Tea and Fatty Liver

Hold up. An alcoholic beverage recommended for treating liver issues? Well, it’s complicated. Preliminary (emphasis on “preliminary”) research suggests that Kombucha Tea benefits can help in the fight against Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition associated with the increased accumulation of hepatocellular lipids.

It’s essential to note, however, that although Kombucha might, in theory, protect the liver from damage, the precise effects remain unclear. One animal-based study saw mice fed either control or methionine/choline-deficient (MCD) diets for four weeks. The MCD group, in particular, also received Kombucha for three weeks. Results established that the MCD group had reduced levels of triglycerides, a type of fat that can cause complications in the liver.

By reducing the level of triglycerides, one also reduces the risk of developing NAFLD - or so the theory goes. This was a purely animal-based study, after all, so it’s difficult at this stage to determine the effect of Kombucha Tea benefits on human livers. For this reason, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company do not endorse this Tea for treating fatty livers. Nevertheless, we support ongoing research, which looks promising.

Kombucha Tea Antioxidants

Antioxidants

Kombucha Tea made from Green Tea also comes with the Benefits of Green Tea. This includes a wealth of Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenolic antioxidant capable of combating free radicals in the body. But what does this mean?

The natural process of human oxidation is when the body metabolises the oxygen we breathe, and our cells produce energy from it. However, despite being natural, this process is also harmful to us when left unchecked.

Oxygen molecules can create stress on our organs and tissues by introducing free radicals. These unpaired (and unsafe!) electrons latch onto and damage their healthy counterparts, creating a change reaction that can lead to several chronic conditions.

Enter Kombucha Tea benefits. This beverage, specifically its EGCG content, can combat free radicals in the body, thus slowing down the process of oxidation. This ultimately leads to a reduced risk of developing heart disease, type-2 diabetes and maybe, though not yet proven, cancer.

Kombucha Kills Bad Bacteria

Kombucha Kills Bad Bacteria

What is the best solution to bad bacteria? Good bacteria, of course! Best of all, Kombucha Fermented Tea has lots of the stuff. This includes high levels of probiotics, amino acids and enzymes that can work together to treat stomach ulcers, among other qualities.

According to a 2000 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Kombucha benefits exert antimicrobial activities against E. coli, Sh. sonnei, Sal. typhimurium, Sal. enteritidis and Cm. jejuni. The findings suggest the presence of antimicrobial compounds other than acetic acid, as well as large proteins in Kombucha Tea.

Side Effects

This Tea isn’t to everyone’s taste. In some, it might even cause adverse side effects. If you have any concerns, we will always recommend you seek medical consultation before trying Kombucha. However, when it comes to those who’re pregnant, we strongly advise against drinking this Tea owing to its alcohol and caffeine content. There are other teas recommend for pregnant women, like herbal teas or the ever popular Raspberry Leaf Tea, which has become a popular for women in labor.

The same advice applies to anyone who is breastfeeding, as well as those who’re either caffeine or alcohol sensitive. Despite its low content, it’s better to play things safe. Additionally, there have been reports of over consumption leading to bloating, digestive complaints and heart palpitations. We recommend drinking no more than two to three cups of this Tea a day.

Conclusion

Kombucha Tea benefits are, put simply, amazing. You can even try making Kombucha Tea at home! There are many recipes online. All of them, however, require Tea.

For this, why not browse our vast selection here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, you could try our Kombucha Plum Green Tea We pack everything fresh to order, ensuring not only quality but also consistency.