It’s Boochi! Everything You Need To Know About Kombucha

Kombucha has taken the world by storm, filling nearly every organic grocery store or hipster coffee shop with bottles or kegs of the latest brew, but do you actually know what this fermented tea drink is all about? And where do you start if you’ve never had it before? Let’s break it down. 

The first record of kombucha comes from China in 221 BC and was originally known as the “Tea of Immortality.” The tea drink is now mass-produced for many larger companies (however, local breweries are still very popular and delicious!), but the basic recipe has remained the same. Essentially, tea gets brewed and is fermented with Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, or “scoby” for short. This is the pale, pancakey material that you see floating on top of the brewed tea in large glass jars. This scoby continues to grow with each brew it’s used for, and you can use just a section of someone else’s scoby to begin your fermentation process for your own brewing. The brewed tea ferments for a week or two with the scoby and sugar and is then bottled with flavoring for another week or so to create the “fizzyness”. Kombucha comes in basically any flavor you could think of — from ginger, to watermelon, to coffee — and many companies create their own combination of seasonal flavors. 

 Kombucha offers a rich source of probiotics and antioxidants, which provide your gut with healthy bacteria to aid digestion. Not a huge amount of scientific research has been done on the true benefits of kombucha, but as a loyal drinker of kombucha for many years, I will say it certainly helps with a happy and healthy gut! 

So where can you get your hands on some kombucha? The UW-Madison campus sells Kevita (ginger flavor) at most dining hall locations, which tends to be a stronger tasting brew but also my personal favorite! Most grocery stores sell multiple brands, including: GT’s (which has a great flavor called “Trilogy” that I tell people to try when they first want to taste kombucha...it’s on the sweeter side, and talk about a gorgeous label), Health-Ade (makes a great “Pink Lady Apple” flavor), Brew Dr. Kombucha (definitely check out their “Love” brew!), and NessAlla (this is a locally brewed, Madison kombucha offering a great “Juniper Rose” flavor).  Another craze is for local coffee shops to actually carry kombucha on tap! Around Madison, on-tap kombucha can be found at Colectivo, Zero Ground Coffee and Black Locust Cafe among many other fun locations that you should totally check out. I also highly suggest taking a tour of a local kombucha brewery if you ever get the chance (NessAlla sometimes does brewery tours if you check out their website). 

Getting kombucha on tap removes the fact that you will be left with a glass bottle (fun fact, kombucha cannot be bottled in plastic containers because the plastic may contain harmful chemicals that affect the scoby), however, there are many ways to upcycle those used kombucha bottles other than recycling them or using them to store your own homebrew. You can simply use them as unique vases for flowers, fill the bottles with string lights for a DIY light fixture, or use them to store any bulk food items you need to access quickly (such as chia seeds, oats, etc.). 

My advice is to definitely try kombucha if you haven’t already, try new brands if you’re looking to expand, get local and see what local breweries are in your area, or see if you know anyone with scoby so you can begin brewing it yourself! So, follow your gut and grab a kombucha!