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KOMBUCHA: Good Health Through Good Drinks


David Kelly | Owner, Hawaiian South Shore

I’ve been drinking kombucha for the past two years now. I usually drink one bottle of kombucha every day, and I really like it. The probiotics (a.k.a. good bacteria) that grow in kombucha help to ensure that our digestive systems have good bacteria that are necessary for optimal health. Especially in an age when antibiotics are prescribed liberally throughout the world. It is quite common to lack these healthy probiotics, so it is important to find ways to replace them. I’ve always been conscious of the fact that probiotics and healthy bacteria are very important for good health and wellness.

Virtually every culture throughout history has had some sort of probiotic food in their diets from sauerkraut, kimchi, poi and even fermented camel milk. My introduction to the importance of healthy bacteria was through my friend Mark Lambert, who drinks yogurt daily to get his probiotics. I got on that program and drank yogurt every day for quite a while, as well.

But a few years ago, I discovered kombucha and thought I’d change things up. I like the fizz of kombucha because it reminds me of carbonated drinks, except that it’s good for you! Furthermore, kombucha is typically made from black tea, which has a bacterial culture added to it called SCOBY. SCOBY stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”. It looks weird and sort of like an alien life-form but does amazing things when it is added to liquids that feed it, such as sweet tea. Many people grow their own kombucha at home by combining black tea, sugar, and SCOBY. The SCOBY feeds on the sugar in the tea and goes through a fermentation process that produces healthy bacteria!

Some sophisticated fermenters produce commercial kombuchas and add all sorts of flavors and types of tea. This makes for a nice variety of kombuchas available. The drinks tend to be sweet and pungent while at the same time they have mild fermented flavors and fizz. Most kombuchas have caffeine since they are made from black tea, so it is important to keep that in mind.

Water kefir is an option for those of you looking for a caffeine-free probiotic drink option and it’s also tasty, fizzy, and full of healthy bacteria. Since kombucha is fermented it does contain some alcohol, but in most recipes the alcohol content is negligible. However, some fermenters are making kombucha based beverages with alcohol content as high as eight percent or more, like Boochcraft in San Diego. These drinks pack a punch, but still have that classic kombucha flavor while being gluten-free and full of the healthy bacteria from SCOBY.

Nevertheless, when you decide to consume your probiotics it’s important to remember to do so on a regular basis and especially during and after antibiotics. Whether you end up eating healthy bacteria from kimchi, poi, or from drinking kombucha like me, here’s to a healthy gut and a great meal!