There is something about summer and sitting on the patio or by a pool that makes me want to sip on something refreshing. If you’re like me, I get bored drinking plain ‘ol water, even though I know all the benefits and that I should be drinking more of it. Luckily, the sparkling water craze has upped my water-drinking game as the myriad of flavors keeps my palate interested.
When I’m not hydrating with water or caffeinating with coffee, you’ll almost always find a bottle of kombucha on my desk. I get so many questions about this bubbly beverage that it’s time to spill the tea.
So what exactly is kombucha? To keep it simple, it is a fermented tea beverage. Surprisingly, kombucha has been around for thousands of years and thought to have originated in China. It gained popularity in the U.S. in the early 21st century partly because of increased awareness of probiotics and fermented foods.
Fermentation is nothing new, you’ve likely heard of it to brew beer, preserve cabbage as sauerkraut or transform milk into yogurt. Kombucha is fermented using a living culture (known as a SCOBY) that is added to a base of sweetened tea. The SCOBY consumes the sugars as it transforms the tea into a naturally effervescent drink with a tangy, slightly vinegary taste. It also contains gut-friendly bacteria (probiotics) that aid in digestion and support the immune system. Fermentation also naturally yields trace amounts of alcohol. Most commercial kombucha is labeled “non-alcoholic” but always be sure to read labels to find the beverage perfect for you.
Still skeptical? Don’t worry, there are many different flavors to help tame the tang. Our taste buds are so used to sugary drinks that the tart, biting taste might initially catch you off guard. First-timers can ease in with a sweeter brew — think strawberry, mango, honey or blood orange. Kombucha has actually helped many of my friends and family ditch their soda habit by slowly replacing soda with this fizzy functional beverage.
If you’re hosting a summer party and are in search of a signature cocktail that has added benefit, try this refreshing Berry Kombucha Cocktail.