Kombucha Is Gaining Mainstream Status: This Trendy Fermented Tea With a Funny Name is Mushrooming

kombuchaorganicrawbottled-main_FullThe trendiest drinks used to be pomegranate and acai juice.  It was the battle of the superjuices.

Now there’s a new contender vying for the top spot:   kombucha.

Goodbye Amazon berry, hello bacteria-laden tea.

Kombucha was once limited to the kitchen counters of homebrewers and the shelves of health food stores.  Now it’s hard to miss colorful bottles of this fizzy fermented tea in the refrigerated cases of mainstream markets.

Maybe you read my recent post about kombucha.  I’ve also written a column for MSNBC.com that was published today. I hope you’ll check out.

So what do you think about kombucha?  Do you love it or hate it?  It seems that people are passionately lined up in either camp — no one seems to be neutral about this ancient drink that’s making a major comeback.

Here’s my bottom line view of kombucha:

Thumbs up:

  • Kombucha is a unique marriage of antioxidant-rich tea and probiotics (those good-for-you bacteria that are in demand in yogurt, kefir and other fermented dairy products)
  • The drinks do contain sugar, but typically a lot less compared to many sweetened teas, fruit drinks and sodas (so it may be a better alternative than other sugary drinks)
  • Some people find the drinks refreshing and energy-enhancing

Thumbs down:

  • There are no clinical trials that back-up the wide range of claims linked to kombucha — including the ability to fight cancer, heart disease and even baldness
  • Some people have had allergic reactions to the tea and there’s a risk of contamination with homebrewed batches of kombucha
  • The fermented tea is high in acid and some reports have linked kombucha with toxicity and acidosis
  • Some experts believe the tea may be risky for people with compromised immune systems
  • It’s expensive — as much as $5 per bottle

It all boils down to this.  Drink kombucha if you like the taste (and there’s a lot more flavors to choose from), or if you like how it makes you feel.  But don’t expect it to work miracles.

Here’s what others have written about Kombucha:

New York Times
Huffington Post
Serious Eats
Healthy Eats
Fit Sugar

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