Kombucha - a new (and kind of weird) way to drink tea

Once in a while, if you drink enough coffee, you are bound to need a break. At least that’s the case for this coffee drinker. When you hit the ‘coffee wall,’ as I did the other day,  you have lots of other beverage options available, some of which seem stranger than others. For example, I recently posted a picture of cucumber soda that I thought was strange (I still haven’t tried it). Yesterday, I drank something out of the ordinary—kombucha.

Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that is sometimes sold as a healthy alternative to other drinks. Proponents of kombucha say that the live cultures in it are good for your digestive system. The doctors at WebMD say there is no conclusive evidence that kombucha is that good for you, especially commercial varieties that have been pasteurized and no longer have the live cultures.

Some of the kombuchas have a small amount of alcohol in them (usually less than 0.5%) that give them an extra punch. It is common to add some fruit juice to the mix too, as was the case with the “superberry” kombucha I drank. It was a bit sweet and had a slight vinegar taste—an acidity that exploded on my tongue.

Some people make their own kombucha at home. They start by brewing their favorite variety of tea (leaves, not bags) and then add some sugar and a starter (the yeast and bacteria responsible for fermentation). Over the next week or two, the mixture ferments, giving the kombucha its characteristic flavor and bite.

As it develops, the kombucha looks like a cider that has been left out to sit too long, with threads of yeast and bacteria floating around like seaweed and piling up on the bottom of the jar (kirkwood.net has a good picture of these here). If you get a particularly active kombucha at the supermarket, you can see the threads hanging out at the bottom of the bottle. That is probably why some kombuchas come in a brown bottle—the companies don’t want you to see the sludge.

Kind of looks like a medicine bottle...and some would say what's inside tastes like it, too.

If you are someone who likes to drink vinegar (you know who you are), you will certainly like kombucha. If you don’t drink vinegar on a regular basis, you can still learn to enjoy kombucha. Like beer and coffee, it is an acquired taste. The first time I tried it, I was not impressed, but I gave it another chance and ended up liking it.

At the very least, kombucha is something to break up your beverage routine. It is not going to replace your daily coffee, but it makes a good substitute when you are looking for something different. And don’t worry about the floating objects. They aren’t going to hurt you. Just close your eyes and bottoms up