Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that’s become popular recently. While the health benefits you’ll see posted on the web are certainly overblown – it does not turn lead into gold, or raise people from the dead – the scant research that’s available on it, suggests some health benefits from drinking it.
It’s easy to make, but not everyone wants to, and now we’re seeing it more and more available in health food stores.
I get the question fairly regularly about whether store-bought kombucha is really alive or not?
And my answer, ‘I’m not sure, but I’m skeptical.’
Skeptical for two reasons. The first is the legal pressure to pasteurize. Just a year ago or so a few people got sick from raw (non-pasteurized) juice here in Washington, and I remember there being a big deal about how there would no longer be pre-packaged, non-pasteurized juices anymore as a matter of public health. So I’m skeptical that kombucha is really raw.
The second is that fermenting foods off-gas. The bacteria as part of fermentation take sugars in the food and convert them into gas (as well as other things). Unless the container is vented it’ll pop. As an aside, a bag of sauerkraut I got at the store has a vent built into it to let the gas out. The bottle of kombucha, doesn’t.
So, while shopping today I decided to try an experiment. One of our readers, Leslie, suggested her favorite homemade kombucha is a chai tea kombucha, which I’ve never done before, and sounds really interesting. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone, I’d make chai kombucha and I’d test to see if a store bought kombucha is really alive.
I bought a bottle of the ‘Bucha brand kombucha which states proudly ‘Live kombucha’. I bought it in Masala chai flavor so as not to mess up the taste of the kombucha I was making.
So, I’ll report back in 7-10 days and let you know how my kombucha ferment is going. If it ferments than I can tell you that the ‘Bucha brand of store bought kombucha is actually alive, and if it doesn’t than odds are that it’s probably not really alive.
UPDATE – The kombucha did NOT ferment. It grew mold and went bad. I recommend getting a “SCOBY” (kombucha starter) from a reputable source and making your own. It costs pennies on the dollar and is easy to do.
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