Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kombucha Drinkers Claim Health Benefits

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kombucha Drinkers Claim Health Benefits

Article excerpt

About four years ago Anna Gordon of Edgewater first tried kombucha, a fermented tea that, according to many, was first crafted and imbibed in ancient Asia.

"A good friend told me that she got so much energy from drinking it," said Gordon. "I thought it was the worst thing I ever tasted in my life." She described the taste as "vinegary juice." "But it really grew on me."

Today the 25-year-old says she drinks a few bottles a week, purchased from her local Whole Foods store. She loads up on more when she's coming down with a cold. Like many, she believes that kombucha is good for your health, though there's little scientific evidence to support that belief.

"I definitely feel like my colds are not as bad when I'm drinking it," Gordon said. "It's also really good for my digestion."

Kombucha is fairly easy to make, but it takes time and some worry about the possibility of contamination. It is produced by fermenting green or black tea using a bacteria and yeast, aka SCOBY (for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) and adding sugar to the mixture. The kombucha ferments for about two weeks and then it can be refrigerated. (Over the two-week fermenting period, a second SCOBY, often called a "baby," grows in the mix, which can be removed to create a new kombucha batch.) Many brewers add flavors like ginger, grape and watermelon.

Health food and other grocery stores sell kombucha already brewed, in bottles. Other retailers sell it in keg form to individuals or stores and restaurants. Several companies, including Kombucha Brooklyn, sell home-brew kits.

Gordon remembers her grandparents, natives of Russia, always drinking it. "Grandma always had a big vat of what they called mushroom tea," she said.

Apparently lots of people nowadays are drinking lots of it as well. According to the market research group SPINS, sales of kombucha have jumped 30 percent from the 12 months ending in September from the 12 months before that. …

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