Kombucha yea, or just “Kombucha”, is one of the must-have superfoods of the moment. But it’s causing some controversy, with as many claims that it is dangerous as there are claims that it is healthy. So what is the truth, what are the health benefits of Kombucha (if any) and where is the best place to get this drink in the UK?
What is Kombucha Tea?
In it’s most basic form, Kombucha is tea, sugar and bacteria.
Kombucha is to tea what Yacult is to yoghurt and what sauerkraut is to cabbage. It is from this fermentation process that the health benefits of Kombucha are said to derive, but it also creates a somewhat unique flavor profile. Sticking with the comparison theme, Kombucha is to taste what sandals and socks are to fashion.
It’s like an insult to your tongue, hitting you with an overpowering vinegary taste that you won’t forget in a hurry, especially if you have acid reflux (in which case you could be tasting it all day).
Kombucha Tea Benefits
There are many purported benefits to drinking Kombucha tea. However, just like many other fermented foods, these are based on anecdotal reports and on beliefs that have existed for hundreds of years. It’s much the same story with Pu’erh tea, which, like Kombucha tea, has been consumed in China for thousand of years.
They have labelled it as a cure-all of sorts, believing it to help with everything from preventing chronic diseases to helping with digestive discomfort. They believe it can detox the body, help with digestion, speed up weight loss and improve the power of the immune system. That’s not all either, as the supposed benefits of Kombucha extend into everything from alleviating the symptoms of arthritis to reducing cholesterol.
We like our claims to be backed up by actual studies, and while these aren’t able to substantiate every claim made about the tea, they do agree on a few of them.
For instance we know that Kombucha is loaded with antioxidants and it also a great source of probiotics, which can support the immune system and improve digestion. There are also suggestions that it could help with weight loss much like green tea and that it has antimicrobial properties not unlike honey. Furthermore, studies in rats have suggested that this fermented tea cold improve cardiovascular health.
Much more research needs to be done before any definitive claim can be made though and many of the benefits also seem to stem from a mixture of probiotics, which are perhaps better consumed via other fermented products, and tea, which may be better consumed in the form of Matcha tea or Pu’erh.
Best Kombucha Tea
There are a few different types of Kombucha tea on the market. At the bottom of this article we will show you how to brew your own because we have been asked for this a few times. But the truth is, it’s much safer to buy the tea and it’s just as beneficial, if not more so. It’s also cheap and widely available, so why wouldn’t you?
As for the best Kombucha tea we have found in the UK, it goes to Holland and Barrett’s Kombucha.
Holland and Barrett Kombucha Tea (Captain Kombucha)
You might think that we are not big fans of Holland and Barrett. We didn’t have a lot of good things to say about their slimming teas after all. But this negative review aside, we actually love Holland and Barrett and have used them many times. Sure they have a lot of products we don’t like, but it’s a big store that focuses on cost above all else, so that was always going to be the case.
The question is, what do we think of their Kombucha tea? If you’re in the UK and have looked for a cheap bottle of Kombucha tea, you’ve no doubt come across the Captain Kombucha range. These are reasonably priced, but how do they stack up?
Well, first things first, the bottle is probably a lot smaller than you first thought. It might look like a bulky 2 or 3 liter bottle, but it’s 400 mils, which means it is a single serving. Still, it is priced at between £2.49 and £3.99 depending on whether they have a deal or not, so it’s still cheap.
It contains raw Kombucha and green tea with no artificial additives and it is available in three flavors. The original is okay, the coconut is terrible (although we’re not big on coconut flavor anyway) and the raspberry is our favorite. It’s refreshing, it ticks all the right boxes with regards to its ingredients and it does the trick. It’s also cheap, which is a big bonus.
Risks of Making Kombucha at Home
We wouldn’t recommend making Kombucha tea at home. There are far too many risks involved. You’re basically encouraging the growth of bacteria which you will then drink. If you get it wrong, then you could be in for a few unpleasant nights. You could even suffer some very serious side effects, which means it’s just not worth the risk.
If you have ever made beer or wine at home then you will know that you need to be very clean and it’s fairly easy to get right. But that’s different. Wine and beer contains alcohol and that alcohol helps to sterilise the drink. Kombucha may have very small amounts of alcohol if that particular fermentation is allowed to take effect, but it will to be enough to sterilise it.
So, before you read our advice on how to make Kombucha tea at home, keep this in mind and maybe buy yourself a bottle of it instead.
Make Kombucha Tea at Home
Now that we have gotten the warnings out of the way (and if you haven’t read those, do) it’s time for a basic Kombucha tea recipe.
The first thing you need is a Kombucha culture. This is a starter culture that you will be able to use for many batches and it is important that you use this and not other bacteria. You can also simply buy a Kombucha Kit which will include everything you need to make the tea.
If you don’t have the kit, get yourself a clean, sterilised jar and a spoon; some white sugar; filtered water; loose tea; and white wine vinegar.
Use 180 grams of sugar to 1 liter of hot water and add 3 teaspoons of black tea and 250ml of vinegar. Simply stir the sugar and water in a glass until it dissolves, allow the tea to steep and cool before removing the tea after 15 minutes. Add the vinegar, add the stater culture and then secure the lid on the jar.
It should be left to ferment for at least 7 days and no more than 30. The more it ferments, the less sugar will remain in the end product. Keep it at 20 to 30 Celsius.