What is this stuff, and why does it smell like vinegar?! 

Kombucha is a fermented, effervescent tea-based beverage often consumed for alleged health benefits. There is limited scientific information supporting any health benefit and few studies are being conducted, although there are several centuries of anecdotal accounts supporting some of the health benefits attributed to the tea. I strongly believe in Kombucha’s health and physical and mental benefits, but I’m not the FDA. 🙂 Kombucha contains organic acids, aminos, electrolytes, enzymes, probiotics and detoxifiers. It claims to fights free radicals, is good for balance, appetite control, etc. It has certainly been shown to have similar antibiotic, antiviral and anti fungal properties in lab tests. In rats it’s been shown to protect against stress and improve liver function. There is a lot of experiential evidence from people who have been using kombucha over many years. Many of the benefits reported include improvements in energy levels, metabolic disorders, allergies, cancer, digestive problems, candidiasis, hypertension, HIV, chronic fatigue and arthritis. It ‘s also used externally for skin problems and as a hair wash among other things. But beware, it doesn’t taste like a “normal” tea, it has a vinegar taste at first. It won’t take long for you to acquire this taste and begin to crave it though!

Another feature of Kombucha is that, biochemically speaking, it is an adaptogen, that is a substance which has no harmful effects, but which works on a wide variety of conditions by normalising the metabolism of the body, and bringing it back into balance. So, for example, if you have high blood pressure, an adaptogen substance will lower it, and if you have low blood pressure, it will raise it. Kombucha’s adaptogen effect is seen mostly through its effect on the liver, the blood and the digestive system, where it normalises the acidity or pH.

The origins of Kombucha have become lost in the mists of time. It is thought to have originated in the Far East, probably China, and has been consumed there for at least two thousand years. The first recorded use of kombucha comes from China in 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty. It was known as “The Tea of Immortality”. It has been used in Eastern Europe, Russia and Japan for several centuries. It’s from Japan in 415 AD that the name kombucha is said to have come. A Korean physician called Kombu or Kambu treated the Emperor Inyko with the tea and it took his name, “Kombu” and “cha” meaning tea. Russia has a long tradition of using a healing drink called “Tea Kvass” made from a “Japanese Mushroom”. From Russia it spread to Prussia, Poland, Germany and Denmark but it seems to have died out during World War Two. After the war Dr. Rudolph Skelnar created renewed interest in kombucha in Germany when he used it in his practice to treat cancer patients, metabolic disorders, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Each batch of Kombucha can be slightly different from the next. So don’t worry if the one you’re drinking has a stronger taste of vinegar or ginger, or maybe its more or less effervescent, it’s okay! Branch out and try all the flavors, they are all very different. My favorites are the Cranberry and Passionberry!