Get to know the SCOBY and other kombucha basics
Welcome to the world of kombucha!
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink and an amazing source of probiotics that aid in good gut health. While there are two basic types of kombucha drinks, alcoholic and nonalcoholic, we’re talking about the nonalcoholic version here.
Kombucha is made by adding strains of yeast and bacteria, along with sugar (or honey), to green or black tea and allowing it to ferment for more than a week. The probiotics in kombucha come from the SCOBY, an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.”
A probiotic colony is one of the most beneficial components of drinking kombucha. The SCOBY is cellulose—plant fiber—that contains the beneficial bacteria and yeast cultures that turn sweet tea into kombucha. A new SCOBY, also known as a baby SCOBY, is made with each new batch of kombucha. Like sourdough bread, kombucha has a starter. You need a batch of SCOBY if you’re interested in making your own kombucha at home. The SCOBY can also be eaten, freeze-dried, or added to a dish.
Kombucha offers an outstanding balance of acidic, fragrant, and fruity flavors. Depending on what flavor you purchase, as well as the type of tea, sugar, or honey used, don’t expect it to be sugary sweet or overly spiced. It’s different from your standard sodas or energy drinks, although some kombucha brewers have started creating cola-like flavors that make it a much healthier alternative.
The fermentation process gives kombucha its natural fizz. A combination of acids, which lend to its vinegary smell, and sometimes its sour taste, mixed with the other ingredients in kombucha also adds to the carbonation.
Although newer to the United States, kombucha has been consumed in Asia for its taste and health benefits for thousands of years. Kombucha contains antioxidants that can kill harmful bacteria in your digestive tract and perhaps even help fight disease. The fermented tea is also rich in prebiotics and probiotics, which are essential for gut health and keeping your immune system functioning correctly.
Additionally, drinking kombucha may aid in digestion, body inflammation, and even weight loss. When kombucha is made from green tea, it contains several bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants in the body and can take out free radicals that can damage your body’s cells. Studies have found that drinking green tea daily can increase caloric metabolism, reduce body fat, improve cholesterol, and help with blood sugar levels. Drinking green tea has also shown a reduced risk of prostate, breast, and colon cancers.
Research supports that drinking kombucha regularly may reduce toxicity to the liver caused by environmental chemicals, and many believe it can help relieve symptoms associated with chronic health problems. It’s also a simply refreshing beverage.
Try these local kombuchas:
TapShack Kombucha features real fruits and superfoods in their raw kombucha.
Babe Kombucha is handcrafted with local ingredients.
Howling Moon Kombucha offers truly unique combinations of flavors like the Tuk Tuk Tea with coconut, lemongrass, and lime.
Hero image: KANIZPHOTO/ISTOCK.
Booch, Please originally published in the winter 2022–2023 issue.