Previously famous for being the weird drink your hipster friend brewed in their spare time, the fermented drink, kombucha has gone mainstream. Now available in most supermarkets, the fizzy good-for-your-gut drink is no longer exclusive to young millennials who eat smashed avo with kimchi on toast, while contemplating life. Those curious to give it a taste will need to know how to choose a kombucha worth trying.
“There are two main reasons that people are still hesitant to try kombucha. The first is that they don’t really understand what it is, or why it’s beneficial to drink. The second is that, even if they are interested in it, they don’t know where to start,” says Alex Glenday, Director at Brew Kombucha, South Africa’s first certified organic kombucha.
Kombucha is made by adding a colony of live bacteria and yeast, known as a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), to sweetened tea and leaving it to ferment for a few weeks. Foods that go through a natural fermentation process, like kimchi and sauerkraut, gain probiotic properties. Eating these foods may bring benefits like improved digestion and a more balanced gut microbiome.
“When it comes to choosing a kombucha, the golden rule is – the cleaner, the better. The health benefits are a result of a natural process that takes place during fermentation. If a kombucha has too many artificial ingredients or additional processes, this works against any potential benefits,” says Glenday. “As with any food or drink, reading the label and knowing what to look for is the key to finding the best-tasting, healthiest, highest quality kombucha.”
Glenday shares her tops tips on picking your first kombucha:
- Glass over plastic: When kombucha is brewed and bottled in plastic, even food grade plastic, can be harmful to the SCOBY. The acidic strength of the fermentation might degrade the material, and scratches in the plastic could harbour unwanted bacteria, which may impact the taste and health of your kombucha. Additionally, in terms of the environment – choose glass over plastic every time.
- The darker the bottle, the better: When probiotics are exposed to light for a long period of time, they are damaged. This impacts the gut health benefits of the kombucha. Go for dark bottles of kombucha, rather than transparent ones.
- Look out for raw instead of pasteurised: If the kombucha that you have in your hand has been pasteurised, it means heat has been used to destroy bacteria in order to prolong shelf life. During this process, a number of the healthy, naturally occurring vitamin B’s and probiotics will be destroyed too.
- Taste: Just because kombucha is good for you, doesn’t mean it has to taste bad! A well-made kombucha should be light, fizzy and refreshing.
Brew Kombucha is a proudly South African, female-led producer of certified organic rooibos tea kombucha. Placing the environment at the forefront of every decision, their packaging is made up of recycled materials and is 99% single use plastic free. The company won a number of awards at the 2020 International Aurora Taste Challenge, including double gold for their buchu-flavoured kombucha. For more information, visit www.brewkombucha.co.za.