Like any good reporter, I decided to give the elixir a weeklong taste test, downing one kombucha a day to see what would happen. The results surprised even a cynic like me. Here’s what I discovered.
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The Taste Is Actually Pretty Great
I love all things acidic (vinegar on fries, yes please!), and while many consider kombucha’s sweet-tart taste a turnoff, for me it was love at first sip. You can thank fermentation for the slightly vinegary taste (kimchi and sauerkraut give you the same mouth pucker), but the tang can be tamed depending on the flavor. First-timers can ease in with a sweeter brew—think strawberry, mango, honey, or blood orange. Diehard drinkers will be more apt to try new brands and bold flavors like beet, rose, and lemon cayenne.
It Nixed My Diet Coke Cravings
Don’t judge me, but I love Diet Coke. In fact, if I hit up a pizza joint with free refills, I can’t stop myself from going back for more. But a strange thing happened after I started sipping kombucha: My Diet Coke urges vanished. That’s good news considering kombucha is a Better-For-You Soda Substitute. Made by adding a culture of bacteria and yeast to tea, sugar, added juices, and flavors, kombucha has a short ingredient list and a surprisingly low sugar count (only 2 to 8 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving), especially compared to the 39 grams of sugar in a can of regular Coke. There are even cola- and root beer-flavored kombucha brews that mimic the fizz and flavor of sodas.
Related: 8 Crazy Things That Happen When You Finally Quit Diet Soda
I Got A B Buzz
Full disclosure: I’m a cheap drunk. Half a beer on an empty stomach and I’m giddy. Interestingly enough, kombucha gave me the same slightly smiley temperament—in a good and natural way. The brew not only contains B vitamins and antioxidants, but it also has trace amounts of alcohol due to the fermentation process. But let me contextualize that: The store-bought stuff rings in below .05 percent alcohol (home-brewed kombucha can be higher), which is why it’s not sold as an alcoholic beverage and is perfectly safe to drink and drive. The bevvy of B vitamins in kombucha could also explain my happy state, as they’ve been shown to fight depression and stabilize moods.
My Bathroom Routine Improved
I’m not one to poop and tell, but you can’t talk about kombucha and not talk number two. So here it goes: I’m a drink-my-morning-coffee-and-hit-the-loo kind of gal, but three mornings into my kombucha kick and I didn’t need caffeine to kickstart things; they happened all on their own. Kombucha, when raw and unpasteurized, is rich in probiotics—the healthy gut bacteria associated with heart health, lower rates of anxiety and depression, fewer yeast infections, weight management, boosted immunity, and, you guessed it, improved digestive health.
(Note: Kombucha’s probiotics do not survive the pasteurization process, so stick to unpasteurized.)
My Teeth Felt Fantastic
After my first kombucha of the week, my mouth had that fresh-from-the-dentist feeling. It was as if all those effervescent bubbles cleaned away the plaque and gave my gums a healthy hug. And with each bottle thereafter, I got that same fresh-mouth feeling.
I was convinced kombucha was doubling as Listerine, but when I did some digging online, I found little proof. But we do know that you need the right balance of oral microbes to keep bad breath and gum disease at bay—something kombucha could be providing.
In the end, I felt forever converted. And even though the jury is still out on kombucha’s hard-and-fast health benefits, we can safely say that the drink is packed with gut-friendly bacteria and antioxidants that make it a good alternative to sugary drinks. So for now, I’m going to keep sipping.