Kombucha’s popularity climbs

Chris’ Critiques

Kombucha, a fermented tea beverage, has become quite the trendy drink in recent years.

Believed to originate around 200 B.C. in Asia, according to the journal “Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety,” Kombucha is not a new find in the world of home-remedies.

That isn’t stopping its popularity from continuing to rise. Kombucha sales could increase to $656.7 million in the U.S. alone by 2019, according to the research firm Euromonitor International.  

The beverage is made using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast called scoby that looks like a jellyfish.

During the process, the bacteria eat the sugar and produce nutrients, organic acids, a trace amount of alcohol and carbonation. Other flavors, like pear, cherry and lemon can be added after fermentation, or it can be left plain.

While kombucha can be brewed at home using your own scoby, most grocery stores, like City Market and Healthy Living Cafe, now carry the vinegary beverage. The fermented tea is served cold and tastes slightly sour and fruity with a light carbonation.

Much of the recent interest in kombucha has come from its list of supposed benefits.

“My mom read a book about how probiotics are good for your brain, so now I drink kombucha,” sophomore Leslie VanDeMark said. “It’s an acquired taste — some flavors are pretty gross — I prefer the fruity ones.”

People are banking on health benefits like disease, prevention, energy improvement and even diminished aging effects, according to an a 2013 NPR podcast.

While very little is known about its health properties, kombucha does contain probiotics, which are associated with better digestion and possibly boost the immune system, the podcast states.

I personally find that kombucha gives me an energy boost, helps with digestion when paired with a meal and is nice to sip when I’m feeling sick.

If you’re interested in trying it, Aqua Vitea Kombucha is a local kombucha producer based in Middlebury that offers exotic flavors like Turmeric Sunrise and Hibiscus Ginger Lime.

They even have a Blue Bernie Blueberry flavor named after U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Aqua Vitea sells its kombucha in individual bottles, but also has fountains located in local restaurants and grocery stores, where you can fill up a reusable bottle or growler. It is the cheapest way to get kombucha because it’s sold in bulk.

Whether or not you buy into the health-hype, kombucha is an excellent option for a functional beverage to keep you awake during class, substitute sugary sodas or just refresh you.