Kombucha is a slightly acidic, fermented drink made from a base of tea, sugar, good bacteria and yeast. It originated in China about 2,000 years ago. It has been growing in popularity at health food stores and among holistic health consumers, who drink it for its many alleged health benefits.
To make kombucha, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or a “SCOBY,” is added to the tea and sugar, and the mixture is allowed to ferment. The result is a beverage that some say smells like beer and tastes like fizzy apple cider. Others say it tastes like wine; other say it tastes like vinegar. Though this fizzy drink is sometimes called kombucha mushroom tea, there are no mushrooms in it.
Fans of kombucha have attributed several health claims and positive effects to the tea, these includes the restoration of hair color and thickening of hair, dissolution of gallstones, reversal of the signs of aging, lowering of cholesterol and blood pressure, increase in blood circulation, relief of menopausal symptoms, strengthening of the immune system, and improvement of digestion and liver functions. People have also claimed that it detoxifies the body and can even prevent cancer.
While there have been no direct studies of kombucha, there have been studies on probiotics, which are found in this tea. Probiotics have been found to aid in digestion and may help with irritable bowel syndrome, according to the National Institutes of Health.