As Spring Dawns, Consider the Health Benefits of Kombucha

Soon, the days will be getting consistently warmer, plants will begin to bloom, and farmers’ markets will start springing up around the DMV. In the past few years, kombucha stands have become a mainstay at markets and fairs across the region, and for good reason: this fermented tea, thought to originate in China or Japan, is both delicious and good for you.

Kombucha is made by adding bacteria, yeast, and sugar to black or green tea, then allowing the drink to ferment for a week or more. The ingredients form a symbiotic colony of bacteria in the drink (called a SOCBY), which can be used to ferment further batches. The process produces acids, gases, and trace amounts of alcohol, which carbonate the beverage and give the tea a tangy, distinct flavor.

The fermentation process also gives kombucha a number of distinct health benefits: the drink contains antioxidants and B vitamins, as well as a large amount of probiotic bacteria. Probiotics help to improve many aspects of gut health, including digestion, inflammation, and possibly even weight loss. There is also evidence suggesting a number of other possible benefits from kombucha, including helping to manage Type 2 diabetes, preventing cancer, and reducing the risk of heart disease – many benefits that derive, in part, from the green tea that kombucha is based in.

While some of these larger benefits are less well-supported by evidence, the health benefits of green tea and probiotics are well documented, and both are found in large amounts in kombucha. As long as the drink has been properly (and safely) prepared, kombucha is a great way to help get a bit healthier this spring.