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Kombucha: The healthy beverage

Kombucha
Kombucha
Mary Thomas

What is Kombucha?
Kombucha (pronounced: kom-boo-cha) is a raw, fermented, naturally carbonated, probiotic tea. It can be traced back several thousands of years to China and Russia. Some records extend back to the Qin Dynasty (220BC), and there is evidence that Genghis Khan and his men drank Kombucha in the 12th century for vitality and strength. Kombucha does contain sugar (used for the fermentation process), but not nearly as much as soda or even juice.
For comparison:
• One 12-ounce can of soda contains about 150 calories and 41 grams of sugar
• One 12-ounce glass of orange juice contains about 170 calories and 30 grams of sugar
• One 16-ounce bottle of Kombucha contains about 60 calories and only 4 grams of sugar
Therefore, because of the carbonation and mild sweetness, Kombucha is a very good healthy alternative to soda.

How is Kombucha made?
Kombucha is made using water, tea, sugar and a fermenting culture called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) which looks like a large jelly-like pancake. The tea and sugar are steeped in boiling water and allowed to cool. Once at room temperature, the SCOBY is added and allowed to ferment off the sugar for 1-2 weeks. When ready, the Kombucha is placed in glass bottles. Some varieties add trace amounts of fresh juices such as, ginger, blueberries, strawberries, or cranberries. The finished product can contain one-billion or more probiotics and most varieties are organic.

What is Kombucha good for?
Although little research of health benefits has been published, producers and avid users of Kombucha claim it provides many benefits including:
• Works as a probiotic (similar to yogurt and kefir)
• Works as a prebiotic to help microorganisms in the digestive track, aiding in digestion
• Rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, enzymes, amino-acids, B-vitamins, and trace minerals
• Detoxifies and energizes the body and mind
• Enhances the immune system

Where can I get Kombucha in the Twin Cities?
Kombucha can be purchased at many Twin Cities’ markets and stores including: Whole Foods, Kowalski’s Market, and Cub Foods. Purchase a bottle and give it a try!

What else should I know about Kombucha?
Do not be alarmed as the finished product will contain strands of the culture which sometimes settle to the bottom. However, do not shake the bottle prior to opening as it is a carbonated beverage. The strands will mix as you tilt the bottle to consume or pour. Kombucha contains a trace amount of alcohol because of the fermentation process. It is fun to drink Kombucha out of stemware.

Where can I learn more about Kombucha?
Click on any of the below references for more information about Kombucha

References:
Synergydrinks.com
NBCnews.com
Kombuchajournal
Getkombucha.com
Beyondkombucha

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