Kombucha – your gut will love it!
In the past two months, I couldn’t really avoid dealing with the topic of “intestinal health”. It really hit my stomach in Cape Town – a thing that is rarely spared on trips when you live in a sterile world and have almost nothing to do with germs. Our gastrointestinal tract never really has to deal with the issue of “germs and dangerous bacteria” because we simply disinfect them. One of the reasons why we all cannot avoid supplementing vitamin B12 – you can find out more in the associated blog post. But what does Kombucha have to do with it?
What is Kombucha?
“Kombu” and “cha” come from Japanese and mean something like “tea from the brown algae”. Kombucha is therefore originally an algae tea that has been drunk in Japan for centuries.
Nowadays Kombucha is a tea drink that is made by fermentation. This is usually done by adding a kombucha culture, a so-called “tea mushroom” or “tea fungus”, to a sweetened tea. This starts the fermentation: The tea fungus breaks down the sugar through alcoholic fermentation. Carbon dioxide and ethanol (alcohol) are produced. That is why you can find a reference to an alcohol content between 0.5 and 2 % on Kombucha bottles, as this has to be declared. Since carbon dioxide is produced, Kombucha is always slightly bubbly and carbonated – so do not shake it before opening!
The Kombucha mushroom – also called SCOBY tea mushroom (Symbiotic Culture of Yeast and Bacteria) – is a symbiosis of acetic acid bacteria and numerous yeasts that need sugar for fermentation. That is why Kombucha always has carbohydrates in the form of sugar as a drink, as this is vital for yeast. A whitish layer or small sediment in the Kombucha is completely normal, we can also find this in other products that have to do with fermentation (e.g. beer). If you’ve fermented anything before, you may have noticed this layer. My mom pickles cabbage leaves in late autumn and turns them into sauerkraut. There is always a white layer floating on it and has nothing to do with dangerous molds. It is just a mass of cellulose, i.e. vegetable fibers, which is completely normal during fermentation.
How is Kombucha made?
Kombucha is traditionally made from a sugared black, green, or algae tea. In South Africa, you can also find a lot of Kombucha varieties that are made from the regionally grown rooibos tea. All you need is the tea mushroom, tea, white sugar (!), a little patience, and a pinch of love. The sugar is essential because it is converted into ethanol during fermentation and then into organic acids. This microbiological process is not possible without sugar.
Kombucha is the only drink in which I consciously consume sugar because I know that there can be no Kombucha without sugar. The living, good bacteria would simply die. Pure, refined sugar is important in the manufacturing process, since otherwise contamination, the fermentation of unwanted bacteria, and thus mold formation could occur. Therefore, hygiene is particularly important in the production of Kombucha!
Even if the alcohol content that is produced during production is negligible, children, pregnant women and reformed alcoholics should keep this in mind. Probably, I’ll try to brew some Kombucha myself – I’ll keep you updated, I promise! 🙂
What is the effect of Kombucha?
Kombucha is said to have many health-promoting properties. Glucuronic acid and other organic acids that are produced during fermentation are said to have a positive effect on the body’s detoxification processes and the immune system. In addition, the regulation of blood sugar levels and a positive effect on the cardiovascular system can be stated. But first of all the positive effects is the probiotic effect on the gastrointestinal tract. The intestinal flora probably benefits most from the good, living bacteria that are contained in Kombucha. Kombucha not only helps to maintain healthy intestinal health, but the fermented tea also helps to slowly build it up again.
In addition, numerous studies prove the antioxidative, antibacterial, and antiproliferative effects of the fermented tea drink. Antiproliferative means that the proliferation of cells is inhibited, which in turn slows aging. An anti-inflammatory effect and a reduction in oxidative stress can also be demonstrated. Many of these things are probably also related to the positive effects of tea consumption in general, which is inevitably associated with Kombucha consumption. Since Kombucha is a combination of tea and healthy intestinal bacteria, the positive aspects are also made up of these two components.
There are many other positive effects that fermented foods have on our bodies. I will proffer you this in a separate blog post.
Side effects of Kombucha
An indication of the probiotic effect is that initially when this fermented tea miracle is consumed, diarrhea and nausea can occur – a sign of the detoxification that is occurring. That is why you should start with a glass of Kombucha a day before giving yourself full steam! I personally dilute it quite often and drink it as a spritzer over several days. So I pimp my water very easily, in times it’s hard for me to drink it purely.
In general, you could say that Kombucha is a kind of detox drink. Kombucha also contains numerous essential trace elements such as zinc and manganese, is rich in antioxidants, water-soluble enzymes, polyphenols, and vitamins B1, B6, C, and even B12!
Always a good gut feeling
The positive effect on the intestinal flora is also the reason why I drink Kombucha almost every day in Cape Town. Not only because I have decided to listen more to my gut feeling! 😉
Above all, there is a real Kombucha tea-drinking culture that I absolutely love in Cape Town. You can find numerous different Kombuchas in almost every supermarket – the varieties of the brands “Theonista”, “Happy Culture Kombucha” and “Brew Kombucha” are highly recommended. I also like the Kombucha of WOOLWORTHS Food’s own brand, the “Beetroot Flavored Drink with Rooibos Tea” but it is almost a bit too sweet for me. Especially “Activated Charcoal & Lemon” aka “Black Magic” and “Turmeric, Ginger and Cayenne” from Theonista are my favorites, of which I can’t get enough. There are even cocktails with Kombucha! One of the many reasons why I love Cape Town so much! 😉
My personal favorites
Theonista is a small, independent, women-owned company based in Woodstock, Cape Town. The name comes from the Greek “Theobroma”, which means “food of the gods”. Theonista only produces ten different Kombucha varieties in small quantities to ensure the best possible quality. We must not forget that these are living bacteria. They have to be kept in check somehow! Similar to how bread differs from self-service bakers and “real” craft bakers – who also work with yeasts and bacteria, there are also many factors to consider when fermenting. I also love the zero-waste idea that Theonista is pursuing.
In Germany, on the other hand, it is a little more difficult to get really tasty Kombucha. A delicious mainstream Kombucha is that from Carpe Diem, which is also available at DM. The organic juice factory Voelkel also offers some Kombuchas in their portfolio which you can get at your wholefood shop. Personally, I can highly recommend the Kombucha from Kombuco Fizz. A small family business with a manufacturing facility in Munich, which has been making very tasty Kombucha since 2019 and works with great attention to detail. The ingredients are sourced regionally except for the tea, only glass bottles are used to counter the plastic craze and all ingredients are organic. I’ve met the founders, Andreas and Sophia, at a tasting in STRANGERS in Munich, where you can also get the Kombuco. Just like at heartbeet!
The perfect symbiosis of gut health and taste
In summary, Kombucha is not only a perfect symbiosis of yeast and bacteria, but it is also said to ensure a perfect symbiosis of intestinal health and general well-being. Personally, I love Kombucha, especially as a spritzer, when pure water is too bland for me and I just need something with taste, but it shouldn’t be too sweet. Absolutely the best side effect is the many positive small effects on well-being. I would say: Rosa approved! 😉
Read more about your intestinal health in my blog post about fiber! I would be happy if you subscribe to my Facebook-Fan page or follow me on Instagram. This is the easiest way to stay up to date. Of course, you can also share the post – sharing is caring! <3
Sources for this blog post
Cardoso, R. R. et al. 2020, Kombuchas from green and black teas have different phenolic profiles, which impacts their antioxidant capacities antibacterial and antiproliferative activities, in: Food Research International, Vol. 128, 2020.
Dimidi, E. et al. 2019, Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease, in: Nutrients, Vol. 11, 2019, No. 8. p. 1806.
Hrnjez, D. et al. 2014, The biological activity of fermented dairy products obtained by kombucha and conventional starter cultures during storage, in: Journal of Functional Foods, Vol. 10, 2014, pp. 336-345.
Kaewkod, T./Bovonsombut, S./Tragoolpua, Y. 2019, Efficacy of Kombucha Obtained from Green, Oolong, and Black Teas on Inhibition of Pathogenic Bacteria, Antioxidation, and Toxicity on Colorectal Cancer Cell Line, in: Microorganisms, Vol. 7, 2019, No. 12, p. 700.
Kapp, J. M. et al. 2019, Kombucha: a systematic review of the empirical evidence of human health benefit, in: Annals of Epidemiology, Vol. 30, 2019, pp. 66-70.
Vázquez-Cabral, B. D. et al. 2017, Oak kombucha protects against oxidative stress and inflammatory processes, in: Chemico-Biological Interactions, Vol. 272, 2017, pp. 1-9.