A beginner's guide on how best to enjoy kombucha
Kombucha seems to be the latest trendy drink of choice. It is found in the drinks cabinet of our local cafés, the chilled drinks fridges at the supermarket, and we can even find it on tap in upmarket bars and pubs. But what exactly is it? And how is it best enjoyed?
Kombucha is a fermented variety of tea, containing colonies of live bacteria. Often carbonated, the health benefits of kombucha as a probiotic have been widely publicised, backed by claims that it improves digestion and immunity in addition to being a plentiful source of vitamins and enzymes.
Brew Kombucha director Alex Glenday says there are two main reasons people are hesitant to try kombucha. The first is that they don’t understand what it is, or why it’s beneficial to drink. The second is that, even if they are interested in it, they don’t know where to start.
“When it comes to choosing a kombucha, the golden rule is – the cleaner, the better. The health benefits are a result of a natural process that takes place during fermentation. If a kombucha has too many artificial ingredients or additional processes, this works against any potential benefits. As with any food or drink, reading the label and knowing what to look for is the key to finding the best-tasting, healthiest, highest quality kombucha,” says Glenday.
She shares below her top tips on picking your first kombucha.
- Glass over plastic: When kombucha is brewed and bottled in plastic, even food-grade plastic, can be harmful to the Scoby. The acidic strength of the fermentation might degrade the material, and scratches in the plastic could harbour unwanted bacteria, which could impact the taste and health of your kombucha. Additionally, in terms of the environment – choose glass over plastic every time.
- The darker the bottle, the better: When probiotics are exposed to light for a long period, they are damaged. This impacts the gut health benefits of kombucha. Go for dark bottles of kombucha, rather than transparent ones.
- Look out for raw instead of pasteurised: If the kombucha you have has been pasteurised, it means heat has been used to destroy bacteria in order to prolong shelf life. During the process, several healthy, naturally occurring vitamin Bs and probiotics are destroyed too.
- Taste: Just because kombucha is good for you, doesn’t mean it has to taste bad. A well-made kombucha should be light, fizzy, and refreshing.