The business of booch
The kombucha craze is catching on. We meet some local makers and find out how to get brewing
You’ve probably heard of kombucha. Over recent years this ancient Chinese beverage has gone from a niche health product to a mainstream drink found in supermarkets, bars and cafes. But what is it and why should you drink it?
“Kombucha is a drink made from fermented tea and sugar,” says Auckland dietitian Katrina Pace, who has an interest in fermented foods. To initiate the fermentation process, tea and sugar is brewed in a jar with a culture called a ‘scoby’ (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). If you ignore the scoby’s brown, jellyfish-like appearance, the final product tastes great – tangy, not too sweet and a refreshing alternative to alcohol.
With the growing interest in gut health for mood and energy, this probiotic drink is set to keep growing in popularity. Although there is no published data from human clinical trials, lab bench tests and animal studies show the drink may have antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties. Katrina believes it is a good addition to a healthy diet and makes kombucha and jun (a green tea and honey variation) herself.
“It contains beneficial bacteria and yeasts that can change the amount and type of bacteria we grow in our bodies,” she says. “We’re learning more and more about how our gut bacteria can influence so many aspects of our health – from how much energy we harvest from the protein, fat and carbohydrates we eat, to whether we get autoimmune diseases, anxiety or depression.”
We talked to some local kombucha makers to hear how they caught the ‘booch’ bug.