We’ve had green tea, dandelion tea, matcha tea, and now….Kombucha. Not strictly a ‘tea’ (despite being made from the stuff), Kombucha is essentially an ancient drink made from fermented white, green (but mostly black) tea.
It may have taken the US by storm (especially those macrobiotic, yoga-loving West-coasters) but the brew does in fact have it’s origins in ancient Chinese dynasties where it was hailed as the “immortal health elixir”. It’s also been around for centuries in Eastern Europe and Russia and is purported to be a cure-all for everything from arthritis to cancer. Despite these health claims remaining unsubstantiated (for now), it is undisputedly packed full of gut-friendly probiotics as well as being anti-oxidant-rich and high in Glucuronic acid (the body’s most important detoxifyer) and Glucaris acid (which some think might help to prevent cancer).
Want in? It’s still not the easiest thing to get hold of in Blighty (although a lot of health shops seem to be cottoning on and we’ve heard rumours of dedicated Kombucha cafes in the pipeline). But you can also cultivate it yourself - as long as you don’t mind jars of what looks like picked jellyfish cluttering up your kitchen.
Kombucha starts life as a sugary tea. So far, so normal. Then the ‘SCOBY’ is added. (bear with us, it gets weirder). ‘SCOBY’ stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast and it’s this yeast/bacteria colony that causes the tea to ferment. The Scoby floats on top of the liquid like a kind of rubbery brown Martian mushroom and can be kept for years (you can keep peeling layers off to start new batches of Kombucha). The Scoby gobble up most of the sugar in the tea transforming it into a fizzy drink that’s relatively low in sugar, calories and alcohol (the alcohol content is less than 1% so you can serve it to grandma without fear of her getting her petticoat in a twist).
So most importantly, what does it taste like? “It’s refreshingly effervescent with an addictive sweet and sour taste. It’s potent!” says LA-based Amelia Rynkowska, founder of the ‘Cult Of Tree House’, a hand-crafted, high potency natural skincare and food company. “As it’s a detoxifier I start my morning with my own home-made brew to kick-start my metabolism and curb any looming sugar cravings. Since I’ve been drinking it I’ve noticed my skin is a lot more sparkly and I love how versatile it is; I use it as an alcoholic drinks mixer, in salad dressings or to rehydrate chia seeds to make a refreshing dessert.”
So get glugging, or, alternatively, try out these beauty products packed full of the stuff. You’re welcome.
Murad Anti-Aging Moisturiser SPF20, £45.
This lightweight skin hero not only provides a glug of hydration, it also regulates oil production as well as boosting collagen levels. And it’s all down to the Kombucha Collagen Defence Complex which acts like a probiotic on the skin, supports detoxification and packs an antioxidant punch.
Cellcosmet Precious Mask, £158.
Give your skin a mini spa break with this radiance-enhancing face mask. Made from a high concentration of the Kombucha ‘mushroom’ it smoothes and refines as well as giving the skin an anti-oxidant boost.