Fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea doesn’t sound very appetising, but over the past few years this ancient Japanese drink has been gaining popularity all over the world.
Literally meaning “kelp tea”, kombucha has grown into a multimillion dollar industry, and with a 2016 study showing that more than half of older millennials drink this carbonated drink alternative, it seems that it’s here to stay.
Drinks trends over the past 10 years have consistently shown consumers of all ages making a conscious effort to make healthier choices when selecting their drinks.
Riding this wave, kombucha is regarded by many to have numerous health benefits, with any self-respecting health shop in South Africa offering at least two different varieties.
Made from a black, oolong, green, or white tea base, bacteria and yeast are added to the tea and then left for two to four weeks to ferment before being sweetened with sugar. The result? A slightly effervescent beverage with the sweet-tart flavour that’s thought to stimulate the immune system, prevent cancer and improve digestion and liver function – though no medical evidence yet exists to back this up.
Medical evidence aside, kombucha is surprisingly tasty, and, when prepared correctly, does offer a healthy alternative to traditional carbonated drinks. Nowadays, Kombucha connoisseurs have altered and upgraded the recipe in endless ways to improve the taste and keep things interesting.
South African company Theonista offers kombucha in flavours such as ginger, pomegranate, guava and mango, while Brew Kombucha uses a naturally fermented rooibos tea blend to create a truly South African taste.
And if you’re someone who loves a homebrew and is interested in making your own healthy kombucha at home, many South African companies, including Theonista, also offer kombucha brew kits to get you started. Visit organic online store Faithful to Nature, place your order and everything you need will be delivered to your front door.
With health-obsessed celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna singing its praises, it’s likely that kombucha will be on our shelves for years to come – well, in health shops at least.
Joburg spots where you can try kombucha tea:
This article is adapted from one originally published in one of the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guides. Visit Yourneighbourhood.co.za, like YourNeighbourhoodZA on Facebook and follow YourHoodZA on Twitter.