Not the first, but certainly most recent: the New York Times’ T-magazine posted a new lifestyle article on the growing Kombucha trend.
What is Kombucha? Well, it is a strange fermented, effervescent tea concoction made through a process of 1) adding bacteria and sugar to black or green tea and 2) letting the mix ferment for several weeks.
Once before, in the mid 1990′s, Kombucha gathered a following heavy with do-it-yourself types who made the tea themselves. (Not the safest thing, since there is always a risk of potential contamination if not done under sterile conditions.)
This new craze, however, is unparalleled. Just last year, market researchers reported that sales of Kombucha and other “functional” juice drinks — intended to not just taste good but also provide drinkers with an impressive range of health benefits — totaled $295 million. Primarily due to the probiotic live culture that grows when the tea is fermented, benefits ascribed to Kombucha include: increased function of the immune system, better digestion and diet control, more energy, and healthier-looking skin.
Does it work? In full disclosure, I love Kombucha and would encourage curious individuals to test it out. For a good six months, I drank the tea every day…and didn’t get a cold or the flu once during that period. And while I didn’t suddenly feel any fantastic anti-aging effects of this elixir of life, I did think my skin looked more vibrant; and I absolutely felt that I could eat more and look thinner. Although I came to like the taste, like many Kombucha drinkers, I didn’t start out liking the drink for its taste. Through and through, I drank it for the effects I felt.
If you’re thinking about trying it, I would recommend trying it once to test how you feel. Due to the various unknowns, it’s good to be cautious: in short, there has yet to be any major human trial of Kombucha reported in any major medical journal. More, the newest story, reported this past June) highlighted that the FDA pulled Kombucha from stores due to its belief that the drink may contain higher levels of alcohol than reported.
If you find that you like it and are itching for more, try different flavors and brands: the most popular being GT’s Synergy drinks, which combine Kombucha with fruit flavors. My favorites were Raspberry Rush, Cosmic Cranberry, and the Original unflavored version. Word to the wise: be careful not to shake the bottle since it’s effervescent! I shook my first one to get the mixture going and it exploded all over my kitchen. Otherwise, enjoy!