9 Kombucha Drinks & DIY Kombucha Kits (+ What The Heck Is It Anyways?)

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Kombucha Benefits

You may have seen noticed kombucha available everywhere from large grocery chains to local corner stores and wondered what the deal is. Is it a tea? Is it a sparkling soda? Is it a healthy drink? Why do I want to drink live cultures anyway? And importantly, if it has alcohol, is it basically a summer cocktail? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha isn’t just a trendy drink in a bottle, it’s been around for centuries. Simply, kombucha is a fermented tea beverage. It’s made by combining tea and sugar with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (or SCOBY), which kind of looks like a big mushroom top and is a fungus (but not technically a mushroom). It’s then fermented over a period of time, where the cultures break down the sugar and you’re left with a carbonated drink with probiotics and just a touch of alcohol.

Even though all kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol, a natural byproduct of the fermentation process, “the amount of alcohol is similar to what you’d find in unpasteurized fruit juice,” says Hannah Crum, president and founder of Kombucha Brewers International. She says most commercial kombucha contains less than 0.5 percent ABV, though you can find 21+ and over options with higher amounts such as hard kombucha or kombucha beer. Either way, you’d probably have to drink a lot of kombucha to feel the effects of the booze.

Kombucha also has caffeine, though the amount varies depending on what type of tea used, steep time, and other factors. Crum says, “typically properly fermented kombucha contains less caffeine than the tea that was used to make it!”

If you’ve ever cracked open a bottle or can of kombucha, you’ve probably taken a whiff of its… distinctive smell. That “kombucha smell,” says Crum, is “typically a vinegary aroma that tells you acetic acid is forming. You want this distinct smell present as it is one of the five signs of a healthy brew!”

Is Kombucha Safe to Drink Every Day?

“Kombucha is a very nutrient-dense beverage containing living probiotics, healthy acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants,” says Crum. “For most people, kombucha can be enjoyed every day.” However, “just like with other food and drinks, it really depends on the person and how their body reacts. It’s important to listen to your body and what feels right for you.”

Is it safe during pregnancy? This is a question for your doctor to answer as it relates to you specifically. “If your primary caregiver permits, pregnant women have been known to benefit from drinking kombucha if their system tolerates it because it may alleviate constipation, reduce nausea, and support the additional nutritional needs of the mom and baby,” says Crum.

Kombucha Health Benefits:

Although there are limited studies, kombucha has healthy components, such as probiotics, which can help with gut health, and antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from free radicals.

Crum says that kombucha can help “increase energy, aid in digestion, support healthy liver function, and enhance overall health and wellbeing. It doesn’t just taste good; it makes you feel good!”

One unexpected benefit is that if you’re a soda drinker trying to cut back, kombucha can be a lower sugar alternative while still satisfying that carbonation craving. Speak to your own medical professional about health benefits and opinions as they may pertain to you.

How to Make Kombucha at Home:

Getting kombucha can be as simple as buying it from your local grocery store or ordering it online. Crum says, “Store bought Kombucha is more refined than what will be brewed at home. Often wanting to please a soda palate, store bought Kombucha may also have a sweeter flavor, though some pride themselves on being fiercely sour. Plus, they are often filtered or may have probiotics added to them to enhance their nutritional properties.”

But you can also make your own at home. ‘When making it at home, you have control over what goes in your kombucha,” says Crum. “Even when flavored with some juice, we find homebrew to be more flavorful while remaining less sweet. This is because when you make it at home, it is incredibly fresh, and you control the sweet/tart factor. “

“Making Kombucha at home is a safe and fun activity to do with your kids – think of it as a science experiment,” says Crum. “It isn’t as difficult as many claim, but it’s important to learn what the proper steps are for brewing safely at home.” To brew a batch, you need a SCOBY, a gallon of purified water, 4-6 teaspoons of loose-leaf tea, one cup of sugar, and 1-2 ups of strong starter liquid. You can also add other juice, fruit, or flavors depending on your taste. According to Crum, here are the key mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t use water with chlorine. It kills the bacteria and we love the bacteria in our SCOBYs!
  • Don’t brew with stevia, raw honey, or herbal teas. Instead, brew with organic, fair trade sugar, and tea.
  • Don’t store in direct sunlight, in a closed cupboard, or in a cool location. Instead, select a warm location with good airflow.
  • Don’t use soap when washing your hands before starting. Instead, use filtered water or vinegar. Again, we want that bacteria to stay in there!
  • Never store SCOBYs in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t use flavored teas or tisanes to brew the base tea.

Check out some easy kombucha recipes and read how to tell if you have a healthy brew.

Ready to get your booch on? Ahead are some kits for making your own or brands you can have delivered straight to your door.

Kombucha Home Brewing Kits:

Kombucha Brands to Try:

Check out our home & kitchen picks for more great products to try out from the comfort of your house.


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