AARP, The Girlfriend, Kombucha

Getty Images

The Girlfriend’s Guide To Kombucha

Why the hippie-dippie healthy tea is now a mainstream favorite.

What is it? Pronounced “com-boo-cha,” this ancient Chinese beverage is low-sugar, low-calorie, fermented black or green tea. You drink it cold. It’s sometimes flavored with ginger or pomegranate or other fruits, and you can find it in health-food stores and an increasing number of chain grocery stores. The taste is a little sweet, a little tangy, a little bubbly — and very good.

How is it made? This is where things get a little gross. Sugar is added to black or green tea and it is fermented by a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) disc. The SCOBY feeds on the sugar and in a few weeks creates a probiotic-dense, fizzy liquid. Some people have their own SCOBY (it sort of looks like a dead jellyfish) and brew the tea at home. Promise me you won’t Google “SCOBY” before you try kombucha. Promise!

So what’s the big deal? There are no scientific studies that support claims that kombucha aids in digestion, inflammation and detoxification, but its legions of fans say otherwise. The tea is also credited for better mental acuity, weight loss, improving lung function and increased energy. Healthy bacteria and acids, plus the benefits of green and black tea, make it a popular option for people who want to feel better.