Kombucha appeared out of nowhere as the on-trend beverage of choice. The sour and fizzy tea quickly took over grocery stores, and new breweries and brands seem to pop up every other week.

It is more than just a nutrition fad. In fact, it’s quite old. Chinese emperors first sipped it in 221 BC. They referred to it as “The Tea of Immortality.” With a nickname like that, it’s no wonder that it is flying off the shelves.

Kombucha: What makes it different from other teas?

The way in which people make kombucha differentiates it from other teas. Once the initial tea is made, it is fermented by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (referred to as SCOBY). These bacterias and yeasts eat up the sugars in the tea, turning it sour and fizzy. It is low in calories and sugar and is slightly alcoholic (usually no more than 1 percent) because of the way it is fermented.

What’s healthy about it?

Kombucha is a probiotic. Like yogurt or olives, it’s full of good bacteria that can improve digestion and boost immunity. It also contains antioxidants that help your liver and kidney function. That said, it also contains lactic acids, so it isn’t wise to chug bottle after bottle, hoping to have an invincible immune system.

How should I incorporate it into my diet?

Kombucha is no “miracle drink”; do not treat as such. Rumors fly about kombucha curing diseases, detoxifying, and lowering blood pressure, but there’s no evidence to prove that. It isn’t an alternate to a trip to the doctor, but a boost to the immune system doesn’t hurt. If you like it, make it an alternative to sugary sodas (just check the sugar content on the label for added sugars!) and is a healthy and beneficial addition to any diet that is already nutritious and well-rounded.

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