A Look at Kombucha: The Elixir of Life

kombucha

Kombucha (aka "the elixir of life") has become increasingly popular in recent years. The fermented tea just became one of America's fastest-growing bottled drinks and researchers say that the global kombucha market is estimated to exceed $1.5 billion by 2022. But, where did kombucha come from, what exactly is it, and why are countless health nuts latching on to the drink like it’s the fountain of youth? Let’s take a look.

It’s difficult to tell when kombucha was first created. Some believe it was invented during the Qin Dynasty (220 BC) for Emperor Qinshi Huangdi. Others say it was Dr. Kombu, a Korean doctor, who first brought kombucha to Japanese Emperor Inyoko in 414 AD. And still others speculate that the drink originated in the Ukraine and Russia during the late 19th century. While its exact origin remains a topic of debate, we do know one thing for sure: kombucha is a delicious drink with a multitude of health benefits.

Kombucha, a lightly effervescent, sweetened tea, is made by fermenting tea with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (“Scoby” for short). The scoby, which resembles a white rubbery pancake, is placed into a bowl of tea (typically black or green tea) which infuses the tea with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and healthy organic acids. As the culture digests, the sugar it creates produces lactic acid, malic acid, usnic acid, glucuronic acid, gluconic acid, vitamin B, vitamin C and probiotics. The end result is a fizzy, tasty tea with an underlying sweetness.

Sounds pretty great, right? Kombucha's health benefits are even more impressive. For example, the drink helps with:

  • Detoxification – boosts healthy liver function and aids in cancer prevention
  • Joint Care – alleviates pain from all forms of arthritis
  • Digestion – fights harmful yeast overgrowth, helps with mental clarity and mood stability and reduces the symptoms of fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety
  • Immune Health – helps protect against disease and improves energy levels

While you can purchase kombucha pre-bottled, you can also make the fermented beverage at home. The process is time-consuming (fermenting typically takes 7 to 10 days) and requires careful attention to batching and storing procedures to keep the mixture fresh. But, it’s worth it. 

We started experimenting with kombucha at George’s in 2014 and have made many successful and delicious batches, using everything from mint and parsley to lemon verbana and Buddah’s hand. Kombucha isn’t a staple on our menu, but w're often brewing surprise batches to give out as gifts at the end of TBL3 and incorporating the tea into specialty drinks at the California Modern Bar