Kombucha is honestly fascinating.
It has become supremely topical in it’s commercialisation and popularity, while also being an incredible process in that it is created via a live and expanding bacterial culture.
It may have sound a little faddish at times and popular in the ‘woo’ crowds, however kombucha can actually serve as a probiotic boost to your current intake. Those really big ‘cure-all’ claims though? Completely unfounded unfortunately!
Kombucha is a fermented tea created by brewing tea, adding sugar and allowing to ferment with the aid of a bacterial and yeast culture – called a SCOBY (Symbolic Culture of Bacteria & Yeast).
Due to the fermentation process, kombucha will contain a small amount of alcohol (so take note if you are on your P Plates not to overdo consumption!).
Although it gets some air-time as being a ‘cure-all’ for a range of illnesses and an ‘immortal health elixir’, there really is no evidence to back this up and it is likely a whole lot of quakery.
However, there are some health benefits stemming from it’s probiotic properties (the good gut bacteria). To help in maintaining a healthy gut and all the positives that come along with it, enjoying 2-3 serves of probiotic rich foods daily is something to consider. This could include yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, fermented veggies/sauerkraut.
Now it is important to note that it is only the raw/unpasteurised kombucha that contains these probiotics. If you are drinking kombucha made in unsanitary conditions, this is a known risk – so if you are pregnant or with a compromised immune system, it is worth weighing up the risks and likely best to leave kombucha out for now.
This also highlights the need to keep food safety front of mind when making a batch of kombucha at home to prevent contamination.
As commercialised kombucha needs to be pasteurised to extend it’s shelf life and prevent excessive alcohol contents, many brands do not actually contain the probiotics that actually gives kombucha it’s purpose. So if you are choosing one commercially, go for an option that requires refrigeration as these are more likely to not have been pasteurised.
Also, let’s talk money!
The cost of the commercial products range in price from $9-$14 per litre. While making it at home (with a donated SCOBY) only cost us the price of 8 teabags and 1 cup of sugar – working out at ~$0.15c per litre (~60c for 4 litres)!
Although this drink is not a cure-all and most certainly not an essential, it is a great low sugar alternative compared with soft drinks and it does offer a nice dose of probiotics. So if you like the taste, and are sure to be consuming it from a safe source – go for it!
Firstly, a massive thanks to our gorgeous friend Heather Fitzhardinge for helping us out with writing this and a big thank you to Carmel for donating us a SCOBY!
8 teabags – You can use all green or a mix of half black, half green
1 Cup sugar
1 SCOBY *
2 cups starter tea (this is already brewed Kombucha)
Water to make up to 4 litres **
Large glass Jar (over 4 litres)
Bottles (flip top bottles work well)
Fruit or juice to flavour
Decanting the kombucha for an optional ‘second brew’:
* You can buy SCOBYs online, but the best thing to do will be to ask around and I am sure you will find someone local to give you one along with some starter tea.
** You can scale this recipe up and down depending on how much you want to make. You can make this in any size jar you like.
ALICIA EDGE HEAD SPORTS DIETITIAN
Alicia is the head Advanced Sports Dietitian at Compeat Nutrition. She is also a mum and triathlete, so advice extends beyond the basics and is instead focused on providing effective and achievable nutrition for both training and racing.