What is This Kumbocha Stuff?
Kumbocha is fermented tea. It usually consists of tea, water, sugar and SCOBY.
A SCOBY is a colony of bacteria and yeast. SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is the culture that ends up turning sweet tea into kombucha, and it’s similar to what is used for fermenting real yogurt, kefir, and sourdough. It is reused for each batch of kumbocha.
Usually black or green tea is used.
The yeast and bacteria in a Kombucha SCOBY work consuming the sugar and converting it to healthy acids (mostly acetic acid which is also found in vinegar but not as strong as vinegar) and natural bubbles. The longer you ferment the lower the sugar.
Then flavorings are added such as herbs, spices, fruit and/or extracts.
The fermentation process produces probiotics, organic acids and effervescence.
Health Claims Regarding Kumbocha
Kombocha is not a drug or supplement. You should consume it like you would any food.
There is no recommended daily amount. Most companies say to drink the amount that makes you feel good.
There are health benefits to drinking kombucha, however many websites make great claims of the health benefits of kombucha. Advocates say it helps your digestion, rids your body of toxins, and boosts your energy. It’s also said to boost your immune system, help you lose weight, ward off high blood pressure and heart disease, and even prevent cancer. Fans also claim dissolution of gallstones, reversal of the signs of aging, lowering of cholesterol, increase in blood circulation, relief of menopausal symptoms and improvement of digestion and liver function.
Other organic acids produced by Kombucha fermentation, like gluconic and glucuronic acid specifically, support a healthy liver metabolism.
Kombucha also contains vitamins and nutrients (in trace amounts) in a living form, which means our body can instantly absorb those elements. A variety of enzymes, B vitamins, vitamin C, and amino acids all are present in small amounts.
Chemical analysis of kombucha showed the presence of:
- various organic acids, such as acetic, gluconic, glucuronic, citric, L-lactic, malic, tartaric, malonic, oxalic, succinic, pyruvic, usnic
- sugars such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose
- vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, and C
- 14 amino acids
- biogenic amines (such as histamine and tyramine)
- purines (which get converted to uric acid)
- lipids (fats)
- some hydrolytic enzymes (enzymes that use water to break down food)
- ethanol (alcohol that gets converted into acid)
- antibiotically active matter
- carbon dioxide (secondary fermentation creates fizzy stuff)
- tea polyphenols
- products of yeast and bacterial metabolites
- and a bunch of other stuff that I have no clue about
- Allergic reactions
- Stomach upset
- Lead leaching from brewing in ceramic pots
- Risk of contamination due to the nature of the manufacturing process
- alcohol content
The FDA says kumbocha is safe when properly prepared.
Most instances of toxicity or illness from contamination coming from homemade kumbocha. If you make it yourself, take precautions or stick with store bought kombucha.
What to Look for in a Quality Kumbocha
Batches should be brewed in glass, not plastic, metal or ceramic. The fermentation of the kombucha can degrade these materials and leach from them.
Many brands use “fillers” like vinegar or water to bring the “taste’ of fermentation up and the price down. Better brands Never use any chemicals, dyes, or other “fake” processes or fillers.
Sometimes there’s floaty stuff in it. It’s pieces of SCOBY. Just pick it out.
Kumbocha should be a raw, unpasteurized product. Pasteurization kills the bacteria.
It should be naturally fermented not force carbonated with CO2.
Cold-pressed is best.
It should use quality, organic ingredients.
Lower sugar amounts- remember a bottle is generally 2 servings. The best kombucha brands don’t have added sugar. Some sugar is required to feed the bacteria.
No other ingredients should be added other than the basic 4. Flavoring ingredients (spices, herbs, fruit) are fine.
All kumbocha contains some caffeine. Some companies add additional caffeine to their tea. Often in the form of green tea extract. Check the ingredient labels.
It is considered a non-alcoholic drink by law. Some may contain trace amounts of alcohol, a natural by-product of the fermentation process, which vary in amounts. The yeast produce the alcohol and the bacteria turn it into acetic acid. Some keep the alcohol in check by using the bacteria to limit it’s production. Also, keeping it cold halts further fermentation. This is NOT the same product as “over 21 kumbocha” or “kumbocha beer”. If you are sensitive to alcohol, it is best to stay away from this beverage.
Some brands are pasteurized which kills the live cultures (which defeats the purpose of drinking kombucha for better health). Brands do this to stop alcohol formation. Others limit the formation of alcohol using other methods.
Probiotics should develop naturally, not be added afterward. It is not known how many probiotic you are getting since each batch is different. If they give an amount, it has been supplemented with probiotics, not naturally grown. Names of bacteria on the label means they have been added and did not develop naturally. The same goes for probiotic amounts listed.
If you’re curious, try it and see if it benefits you. If you like bubbly beverages, it might also be a better alternative to soda.
“You must remove the old yeast of sin so that you will be entirely pure. Then you will be like a new batch of dough without any yeast, as indeed I know you actually are.” 1 Corinthians 5:7