Kombucha’s Health Benefits Applauded
What’s in a name really? A whole lot of confusion apparently, especially when that name is kombucha. The problem with the fermented tea beverage and the cause of all the confusion is that the name of the tea, when translated back to Japanese, literally means “seaweed tea”. The result has been that many Japanese people have been left dumbfounded when encountering kombucha in grocery chain stores and health shops, likening it to something they may once or twice have had in the past.
But of course, instead of being seaweed tea, kombucha is in actual fact a popular healthy beverage brewed from sweetened tea. The tea is often originally black tea and contains healthy bacteria and yeast cultures. The process typically involves the sugars in the tea being consumed by the yeast. This then creates ethanol, which is in turn consumed by the bacteria. Kombucha is also often referred to as “mushroom tea” mainly due to the SCOBY resembling in appearance a mushroom cap; with SCOBY being a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
But kombucha is neither mushroom nor seaweed. Phew.
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Big Business Kombucha
But confusion and a language criss-cross aside, kombucha as a beverage is big business. So much so that even Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have taken the plunge into the market. Local breweries and distributors have been going at it too, with one particular Calgary-based company distributing the popular drink to more than 200 stores in Western Canada.
Calgary’s Happy Belly Kombucha is a local brewery owned and run by married couple Chas and Victoria Lundgard. It all started about a decade ago, shortly after the pair had managed to sample the beverage at a US holistic health conference. So impressed had Victoria been with the taste, that she and husband Chad soon started to brew the beverage at home. The response from family and friends was overwhelming, recalls Victoria, and so much so that the couple soon caught on to the fact that there was a winning business idea in there somewhere.
As to how kombucha managed to make the transition from a beverage mainly sold at holistic health expos into big-scale commerce generating billions of dollars each year, has had much to do with new scientific research conducted into flora and the bacteria present in our guts affect human health.
Those who preach the health value of kombucha believe that the beverage promotes the cultivation of healthy bacteria in our own guts, which is essentially what brings about the supposed health benefits.
Its no surprise then that giants Coca Cola and PepsiCo are more than just a little interested in the idea.