What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a sweet fermented tea, an ancestral drink originating in Asia, that has been available on the Canadian market for several years. The fermentation is done using a culture of yeasts and bacteria.

Its tangy taste and effervescence are reminiscent of sparkling cider. Kombucha can be flavoured with different original flavours, such as ginger, hibiscus-chai, turmeric or the more classic mango or berry.

Potential benefits

Kombucha has been touted for its anti-cancer, energizing and detoxifying properties. As well, because of its ingredients and the way it is produced, it is a drink that contains antioxidants (more than tea alone), vitamins and probiotics. Nevertheless, of the hundreds of studies done on the subject, no clinical study in humans has demonstrated that kombucha has health benefits.

What about the sugar in kombucha?

Here is a table comparing the carbohydrate content of kombucha to other drinks. Kombucha contains two to three times fewer carbohydrates than juice or a regular soft drink.

Drink  Carbohydrate content* per 250 ml (1 cup)
Sparkling water 0 g
A mix of ¼ fruit juice + ¾ sparkling water 6 g
Kombucha 7 to 11 g
Orange juice 23 g
Regular soft drink 26 to 32 g

*Data from the Canadian Nutrient File, 2015

Warning

Since kombucha is a fermented product high in yeast and bacteria, it is not recommended for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, or people with weakened immune systems (e.g., those having chemotherapy). In addition, caution is required when making your own kombucha at home because it is more difficult to control the amount of bacteria and yeast and the risk of pathogenic bacteria is higher. Therefore, it is essential to follow the production instructions carefully and to use an appropriate container.

In short, kombucha is a natural drink, with an interesting taste, and is a much less sweet alternative to juice or regular soft drinks. Although water remains the best choice for hydration, kombucha can be drunk occasionally, as a replacement for a serving of a carbohydrate food. Kombucha is available in grocery stores and health food stores for $3 to $5 for a bottle of about 450 ml.