What the FLIK is...kombucha?
Handcrafted cocktails, locally roasted nitro cold brew on tap, and matcha tea bars are all the rage, but are you up to date on the latest local beverage trend?
Do you like cream and sugar with your tea? Well, how about a little live bacteria?
Let us introduce you to: Kombucha.
Kombucha is a tea-based drink, but it’s nothing like the tea you’re used to – it’s a fermented drink, just like beer or wine, but don’t worry it’s not nearly as alcoholic (we’ll get into that later). Like many popular beverages, kombucha claims a number of health benefits including improved digestion and increased energy. Here’s what you need to know before you take your first sip:
What the FLIK is kombucha?
Kombucha has been around for over 2,000 years, so it’s not actually that new to the market.
At it’s simplest form, kombucha is made from high quality black or green tea that’s mixed with white granulated sugar, and a bacteria and yeast combination known as SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast.
The SCOBY is a jiggly film of sorts that sits on top of the liquid for 7-10 days and often resembles a really wet mushroom or jellyfish; it’s alive and actually feeds off of the sugar that’s made in your kombucha brew. But don’t be nervous about kombucha’s live bacteria, think of it in the same realm as the active cultures in yogurt – it’s totally safe to enjoy.
Will I like it?
Kombucha can be pretty potent, so be forewarned. Newbies often say the drink has a distinct vinegar-like smell and a taste that has been described as everything from rotten apple cider to tart apples, and often has a slightly fizzy texture thanks to the fermentation process.
What are the health benefits?
Not all kombuchas are brewed equally.
Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir are all over the grocery store and in restaurants. These fermented products are rich in probiotics, or “good bacteria”, that naturally help promote a healthy gut. Research has shown that these probiotics can help alleviate gut-related issues like irritable bowl syndrome, bloating, and in some cases minor food allergies. That being said, kombucha and probiotics aren’t a solution or supplement for any doctor-prescribed treatments.
If you’re interested in trying these hip beverages, be sure to read the labels first. As you now know, kombucha is made with only a handful of ingredients. If the label says it has anything extra – citric acid, natural flavors, or sweeteners – steer clear. Bottled kombuchas, especially those that are flavored, can have hidden added sugar and other unhealthy additives. Try to stick with certified organic brands whenever possible.
Okay, but I hear it’s alcoholic…
Have no fear! Most bottled kombucha contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), so unless you’re pouring back gallons at a time, you should be in the clear.
If a kombucha has been brewed with the intent of having higher ABV, aka an alternative beer, they will be clearly marked and should be sold alongside other alcoholic beverages like beer, and will only be sold to those 21 and over. You’ll need an ID for that brew.
Today, “Eat Local” is more than a mantra – it’s a lifestyle. Consumers demand authenticity, sustainable practices, and prefer to support of the farm-to-table conscious food chain in their culinary offerings than other products on the market. And beverages are no different.
Kombucha is taking lessons from the craft beer and artisanal coffee roasters of yesteryear and really putting authentic product quality front and center of the product. Local, regional brewers are adding in unique twists to their brew like Big Easy Bucha’s Voodoo Brew from New Orleans that incorporates signature flavors like chicory and vanilla coffee, or Apis’ infusion of local honey into their kombucha recipe.
Are you interested in trying kombucha? Let us know what you think of your first sips! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.