Every year there seems to be a new food trend that pops on social media. Some come and go, but some are here to stay. Kombucha is perhaps one of the trendiest drinks out there at the moment. While it was first produced thousands of years ago, it’s been in pop culture for a few years now. It’s still hanging around, proving to be more than just an annual trend.
But, why do people drink it? Well, like another kind of trend – dieting – it’s become popular because of the positive health benefits associated with it.
As boutiques brewing kombucha began to pop up, this fizzy drink in cool glass bottles continued to show up more and more on social media.
If perhaps you haven’t tried it yet, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Or, you may be asking, what does kombucha taste like?
In one word, it tastes vinegary. But, it’s actually so much more than that and it’s much better than it sounds, I promise! Depending on the flavor it can have floral, fruity, or herbal notes too.
Read on to learn all you need to know about kombucha flavor, texture, plus its benefits.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage produced by infusing bacteria and yeast into sweetened black or green tea. A glass of microorganisms may not seem too pleasant, but this is where kombucha gets its nutritional punch (that includes probiotics, antioxidants, protects against cancer and heart disease, etc.). The bacteria and yeast break down the sweetened tea, producing byproducts such as acetic acid and other beneficial acids.
A symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY for short) rests in the tea for a few weeks before the kombucha is ready. What’s left is a frothy tea that’s somewhat sweet and sour.
Since it’s a fermented tea, it may not be much of a surprise that its origins come from Asia. Specifically, kombucha tea is thought to have originated in the Northeast Manchuria region of China over 2,000 years ago.
But it took its time making it out West!
It was first consumed in Russia and Ukraine before eventually making it to Western Europe around the late 1800s. And now you can find it in your neighborhood grocery store!
What Does Kombucha Taste Like?
Kombucha has a very distinctive taste, that’s for sure.
I briefly described it as vinegary but also containing floral, fruity, and herbal notes. But it’s even more than that. This drink has so many tastes that deciding which one stands out the most is challenging, especially when you consider all of the exquisite varieties to pick from. It’s effervescent, slightly sweet, and a bit tart, but all of these can change depending on which flavor you drink, and there is certainly no shortage.
The flavor profile of kombucha is similar to that of sparkling apple cider but with a more pronounced sour taste like that of sour beer. It has a distinctive taste that perfectly walks the fine line between slightly acidic, fragrant, and fruity. If you want to switch up your soft drink routine, then kombucha is definitely for you. And the more you drink it, the more you’ll like it.
If it’s your first time drinking it, the flavor profile might be a bit too different for you after the first sip. But, as you make your way, slowly emptying the bottle sip-by-sip, it will most likely grow on you by the time you finish it.
What Does Kombucha Smell Like?
The smell of kombucha is also quite distinctive. This is because of how it’s produced.
Kombucha’s fizz, helpful acids, and somewhat vinegary scent are all due to the fermentation process to make the drink, which, while apparent, is not unpleasant.
The vinegar notes will most likely be the first thing you notice and it will be accompanied by a light hint of the smell of tea too.
But don’t be put off because the flavor is extremely different from the smell, which is why it stimulates all of your senses and typically tastes better than it smells!
What’s the Texture of Kombucha Like?
The first thing you’ll notice if you look at a bottle of kombucha is that you’ll likely see some nebulous, fibrous-looking matter floating around near the bottle of the bottle.
Don’t be afraid! It’s supposed to be there!
It’s actually just a byproduct of the fermentation product, and it’s mostly just yeast (the kombucha SCOBY I mentioned earlier), which is perfectly safe and harmless.
However, if you do drink every last drop of it, you’ll likely notice the slightly strange texture if you drink the SCOBY bits. But, if it’s slightly offputting for you, can also pour the kombucha through a sieve and you won’t have to worry.
Aside from the SCOBY bits, the rest of the drink doesn’t have too crazy of a texture.
But you’ll notice that the carbonation may feel a bit different than what you may experience when drinking a soda. This slightly extra tingly sensation is due to the carbonation that’s created during the second fermentation process.
This is when the kombucha is flavored, bottled, and then stored in the dark. During this process, the bubbles really start to form. The very slight alcohol content (.5%) also plays a role in the texture, making it a bit “dryer” than other carbonated beverages.
Benefits of Kombucha
There are a few health benefits that are associated with drinking kombucha.
Potential Source of Probiotics
Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria that can help to improve your overall gut health. This includes improved digestion, less inflammation, and even weight loss.
It Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are reactive molecules that damage your cells. And kombucha that’s been made with green tea appears to have these positive effects.
It May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
In some studies in rats, the results showed that kombucha can greatly improve two markers of heart disease in “bad” and “good” cholesterol. Again, this could be from the properties of tea.
It May Help Protect Against Cancer
Some test-tube studies have demonstrated the ability of kombucha to help prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells. This is thought to be because of the high concentration of the polyphenols and antioxidants that are from the tea. But, the actual anti-cancer properties of tea polyphenols are still not understood very well.
While many of these benefits have yet to be definitely proven, it’s still a healthy and refreshing drink that has some nice upside.