I remember the first time I had kombucha: I was working at lululemon athletica, and a coworker was drinking it. Specifically, she was drinking the Synergy Kombucha (on the right) with chia seeds. It looked... weird. I had a sip, and it tasted... weird.
Kombucha is weird if you've never had it before. It is a fermented elixir, made up of tea and sugar (hear me out about the sugar). The sugar-tea solution is fermented by bacteria and yeast commonly known as a “SCOBY” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY looks like a mushroom that forms on top of the tea, which is why you'll sometimes hear kombucha referred to as "mushroom tea." The SCOBY consumes over 90% of the sugar during fermentation, resulting in a low-sugar finished product that is carbonated and contains vinegar, B-vitamins, enzymes, and probiotics.
Kombucha has a number of notable health benefits, including:
- Increased Energy
- Nutrient Assimilation
- Liver Detoxification
- Improved Metabolism
- Supports Joint Health
- Boosts Immune System
- Increases Pancreas Function
It's hard to explain exactly what kombucha tastes like. You'll just need to try it (and really give it a chance: I hated it the first time I tasted it, and now I can't get enough). It comes in a variety of flavors, and some even have chia seeds in them! The gooey seeds can be a little weird at first, but it's kind of like drinking bubble tea (with super mini-bubbles). What I can tell you is that kombucha is fantastic at satisfying cravings for more sugary or alcoholic carbonated beverages like soda and beer:
I have played softball and baseball my whole life, and as I grew older, I had to find various recreational leagues to play on. I don't know if you have ever played on a recreational sports team before, but what I can tell you is that they love to drink. Games always include at least one giant case of cheap beer, usually PBR. Then, after the game, you go to a pub to celebrate (and drink more). After one of these games, my team happened upon a pub that serves kombucha on draft (and has the most amazing vegan bowl of wings and Brussels sprouts, shout out to Cedar Point). Even though I had the summer softball craving for beer, I was intrigued to try kombucha on draft. I am so happy that I did. Not only did it satisfy my craving, but it was delicious, didn't dehydrate me, and didn't leave me feeling lethargic the next morning. Total win.
See what I mean?
The next time you're craving a beer or a soda, try a kombucha instead. The carbonation is there to fool your craving, and you'll feel so much better afterward. Cravings stem from a number of sources, one of them being tradition and/or that "sentimental feeling." For me, baseball always included a beer or two, even if I didn't want one. It was that feeling, that tradition, that bubbly beverage that I didn't even really like that I was craving. Traditions are totally cool with being remixed! Why not switch things up, especially if you can better yourself at the same time? I like to call this actually "treating yourself." Treating yourself well.
(Sources: American Cancer Society, Dr. Axe, The Journal of Medicinal Food, Microbialfoods.org, and sources provided through my health coaching certification program, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition)