Kourtney Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow and Justin Bieber – they all say they have been drinking it.
You’ve probably spotted it bottled up in shops advertised as being “full of friendly bacteria”.
But what is kombucha – and is it actually good for you?
Made from fermented tea, the drink has been enjoyed in the Far East for centuries, although its origins are still a mystery.
Offering a very distinctive flavour, it’s often described as tasting sour, yet fruity.
Although the drink may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it comes with many health benefit claims.
Aberdeen-based nutritional therapist, Beverley Sarstedt, said the drink can be beneficial as part of our diet due to probiotics, which can help boost your gut microbiome, as well as the immune system.
She said: “The microbiome is essential to so many things, it’s essential to our immune system – 70% of our immunity is in the gut, our cholesterol is regulated through our gut health, our blood sugar and hormones.
What is kombucha made from?
- Loose tea
“Gut health is absolutely pivotal for health. There’s a lot of research and investment going into this now and it has become a huge area for nutritional therapy and functional medicine.
“The key thing is how we keep the gut healthy and that means introducing lots of good gut bugs, with things like probiotics.”
Good gut health helps prevent chronic disease
Beverley added: “Hundreds of years ago people had better gut health than we do now, because people back then had a clean diet. They’d eat what nature provided because there wasn’t any processed foods.
“Things have changed now and we have lots of issues because of that. Gut health is paramount to our metabolic health and our immune health and the prevention of chronic disease.
“So that’s why these things have become a big deal. You’ll hear people drinking and eating things like kombucha, sauerkraut and other fermented foods, which 10 years ago weren’t really spoken about, but have come into vogue – and rightly so.”
However, Beverley, who owns Aberdeen-based business Nourishing Insights, warned that fermented food and drinks may only be beneficial if taken as part of a healthy diet.
She added: “What a lot of people do is drink something like kombucha but then carry on eating crisps and other processed foods. So how much good is it going to do if you’re not looking at the whole picture?”
‘It gives me a lot more energy and generally makes me feel much better’
Former chef Hannah Taylor started drinking kombucha while living abroad for a year.
She now runs Findhorn-business Gut Feelings, selling the fermented tea at local zero waste shops and cafes.
Hannah stated that since drinking kombucha, she feels the benefits in her day-to-day life.
She said: “When I was living in New Zealand there was a local company in Takaka making kombucha and I experienced the benefits of it. It gives me a lot more energy and generally makes me feel much better.
“I like flavouring it with fruits and herbs so it has a depth of flavour alongside the tartness. It’s something I’m really into, putting concoctions together.”
Hannah, who won the Highland Young Business Woman of the Year award last year, explained that kombucha is fermented with the help of a scoby – a culture of bacteria and yeast – and through this is transformed into a refreshing drink.
Research is still ongoing into the health benefits of kombucha but there’s already been some interesting animal studies showing it could help prevent liver damage.
Hannah said: “There’s a lot of studies based on animal models which shows the bacteria does have a probiotic effects on the body. This helps with improving gut motility and the microbial balance in the gut, which helps with the gut lining.
“It’s high in an acid called Glucuronic acid which is a vital acid for one of the detox pathways in the liver.”
Hannah, who is currently studying at the College of Natural Medicine in Edinburgh, is a firm believer that our gut health is linked to other conditions in the body.
And she is keen to help other people improve their health through changes to their lifestyles and diets.
She added: “Sometimes it really is simple things that need changed but the improvements people see afterwards are huge.
“Seeing someone go from ill health to good health is incredible. I find it fascinating.”