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The Grammar


The word is a noun of undetermined origin. It came into the American culture with growing usage in the 1990s as the fermented tea of which it speaks grew in popularity. This beverage however is of an ancient and geographically varied origin. The ferment is conducted using a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast, also known by the acronym, SCOBY.  As the SCOBY ferments the tea into which it is steeped for a series of days, the liquid transforms into a naturally effervescent beverage made popular by its unique taste and probiotic qualities.

The History


The American buzz over Kombucha began in the 1990s traveling to us with stories from places such China, Japan, and Russia. Its origins lie in word-of-mouth legends from ancient history, of which three brief accounts follow –

221 B.C. – The ancient Chinese Tsin (aka Chin) Dynasty (221 to 206 B.C.) reportedly attributed their successes in conquering their neighbors to the Kombucha tonic which they referred to as, Tea of Immortality.

415 A.D. – Korean physician, Dr. Kombu, introduced Kombucha to Japan when he gave the tea to the Japanese emperor in hopes of improving his health. Consumption of the beverage burgeoned throughout the country and its continued use over time was credited to Samurai warriors, who carried the fermented tea with them into battle for stamina and vitality.

1951 – In Russia, during a scientific investigation into the environmental conditions of the districts of Solikamsk and Beresniki and the lifestyles of those residents, scientists found that despite high levels of pollution the people were virtually cancer-free. In both districts, investigators discovered that the people of almost every household consumed ample quantities of a beverage known as tea kvass, a fermented tea made so by a fungal culture that was propagated with tea and sugar. Identification of the culture determined that it was Kombucha.

Presently, Kombucha continues to be lauded as a probiotic tea with restorative and health promoting properties.

The Science


Four main ingredients go into the brewing of Kombucha. These are water, tea leaves, sugar, and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, better known as a SCOBY.

The SCOBY constituency of living microbes orchestrates the fermentation process of the tea and sugar mix, via yeasts such as –
●  Saccharomyces cerevisiae,
●  Brettanomyces bruxellensis,
●  Candida stellata,
●  Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and
●  Zygosaccharomyces bailii,
And via bacteria, such as Gluconacetobacter xylinus. 

This ferment produces a microbial liquid described by varying degrees of an amber color, natural effervescence, and a tangy hint of sweet and sour.

Science seeks to understand not only the SCOBY and the microbes that collect to form this biofilm or pellicle, but also how the microbial liquid produced may cause the health promoting effects substantiated by many of the people who consume it.  To date, data of sufficient and viable proportions has not been collected and examined so as to scientifically sanction the restorative qualities lauded.  Personal experiences and the word-of-mouth that follows however, continue to be a veritable bank of knowledge to consumers of alternatives tastes.

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