Kombucha made its way onto the scene over a decade ago and remains a popular drink across the United States. The beverage is a fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened black tea drink commonly consumed for its purported health benefits. Filled with probiotics and antioxidants, many people believe kombucha can improve gut health, reduce inflammation, and support heart health. It is a fizzy, low-calorie beverage that comes in various flavors and is made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. If you’ve been wondering what kombucha is but haven’t tried it yet, here’s an overview to pique your interest.
It all starts with three simple ingredients.
The basic ingredients in kombucha are yeast, sugar, and black tea. The mix is set aside for a week or more. During that time, bacteria and acids form in the drink and a small amount of alcohol. Some makers may add special bacteria to the mix to give the process a jump start. This process is known as fermentation, similar to how cabbage is preserved as sauerkraut or kimchi or how milk is turned into yogurt. Juice, spices, fruit, or other flavorings are often added to the drink.
The process is fairly simple: making kombucha involves letting bacteria grow in a mixture of tea and sugar. The bacteria consume the sugar and produce organic acids, such as acetic acid, which gives the drink its characteristic sour taste. The yeast in the mixture ferments the sugar, producing carbon dioxide, which gives the drink its fizziness. The fermentation process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the temperature and other factors.
Is there alcohol in kombucha?
Yes, but much less than other alcoholic beverages. The alcohol content in kombucha can vary depending on factors like the fermentation time and the conditions in which it is brewed. Generally, commercial kombuchas are produced to have an alcohol content below 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV), which is considered non-alcoholic in many jurisdictions. However, some homemade or small-batch kombuchas may have slightly higher alcohol levels.
It’s important to note that the alcohol content in commercial kombuchas is usually low enough that it’s not intended for intoxication. Nevertheless, individuals who are sensitive to alcohol or are avoiding it for health or religious reasons should be aware of the alcohol content in kombucha and choose products labeled as “non-alcoholic” or “alcohol-free.”
Explore fun flavors in the world of kombucha.
Now that you know what kombucha is, what does it taste like? Kombucha has a slightly sour taste that can take some getting used to. Some people describe it as similar to apple cider vinegar or sour beer. The drink is also slightly effervescent, which can add to its appeal. Drinking kombucha is an easy, low-calorie way to add probiotics to your diet. It’s also a good alternative for vegetarians or anyone who can’t eat dairy.
Kombucha makers are very creative, and as a result, the beverage comes in a variety of flavors, including ginger, lemon, raspberry, and blueberry. The drink’s taste can vary depending on the type of tea used, the length of fermentation, and the flavorings added to the drink. Trying kombucha at a taproom is a great way to explore many different kombucha flavors and learn your preferences.