WHAT IS KOMBUCHA?
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is made by adding various strains of bacteria, yeast and sugar to black or green tea, which is then allowed to ferment for a week or more. The resultant liquid is fizzy and has a mild, vinegary aroma. “It is higher in antioxidants than rooibos tea and is known for its anti-inflammatory potential,” says Keren Gird, senior dietician at Beyond Nutrition, Dubai.
One of the by-products of the fermentation process is acetic acid, which has been shown to slow the growth of harmful bacteria and yeasts. Kombucha made with green tea is thought to contain antioxidants that help the body to fight free radicals that cause cell damage. Vitamins C, B1 and B12 can also be found in this fizzy beverage.
You can also experiment with a variety of flavours when making kombucha. “Normally you would add your selected flavours to the kombucha after it has finished fermenting. You would remove the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) and steep the ’flavour’ for 2-3 days, depending on how strong you want it to be. The flavour can come from juice, syrup or chopped fruits,” says Katie Christou, food and beverage director at Lowe, a contemporary restaurant in Dubai. “We serve ours chilled over ice but it can be served at room temperature,” she adds.
China, Japan, Russia and Korea have all laid claim to having first produced kombucha thousands of years ago. While there’s no solid evidence to support these claims, we can be fairly sure that this fermented beverage first appeared on the scene in the Far East, where tea was a
DID YOU KNOW?
The bacteria and yeast culture that forms on the surface of kombucha during the fermentation process is known as a SCOBY, or a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. It looks like a rubbery pancake and is often called a ‘mother’. You can buy a dehydrated SCOBY online.
STORING YOUR SCOBY
Place extra SCOBYs in a glass jar with a plastic lid. Pour fresh, unflavoured kombucha tea into the jar until the SCOBYs are completely covered. Replace the lid and put the jar in a dark cupboard. Check on it from time to time and top up with fresh kombucha if needed. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight and do not refrigerate.
Kombucha has around 80 names worldwide. Some of them include Red Tea Fungus, Medusa Tea and Gift of Life.
To make your own batch of kombucha at home, try our recipe