Kombucha: what is the fermented tea drink and why is Wetherspoons selling it?

JD Wetherspoon has launched kombucha nationwide and in two flavours - cherry plum and ginger lemon.

Despite the fact that it is regularly touted as a drink with plenty of health properties, the fermented tea drink still isn’t widely known in the UK.

Is this the beginning of kombucha going mainstream in the UK? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Is this the beginning of kombucha going mainstream in the UK? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Here’s everything about kombucha - from how it’s made to possible side effects.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a soft, slightly fizzy drink that is made with a sweet tea base and is fermented.

The process of making kombucha involves a specific culture known as a ‘scoby’. Scoby stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts”.

The bacteria and yeasts are what are converted into sugar and gives the drink its distinctive sour taste.

How is it made?

According to BBC Good Food, kombucha is made using:

- Sugar

- Cold filtered water

- Black/green tea

- Scoby, which can be purchased online or taken from an existing batch of kombucha

The tea and sugar are steeped in boiling water. Once this mixture has cooled, the scoby is added. The kombucha is then covered and left to ferment for up to a week.

It is then transferred into an airtight container with some extra sugar and left alone for a few more days.

The longer the kombucha is left for, the fizzier it will be. Flavourings like spices and fruit can be added at this point as well.

Does kombucha have health benefits?

Rich in beneficial probiotics and antioxidants, the health benefits of kombucha have been a huge selling point of the fermented drink.

The Institute of Health Sciences states that 80 per cent of our immune system is located within the gut. The healthy bacteria in kombucha colonises our gut.

According to Healthline, kombucha has been scientifically proven to have health benefits.

These include:

- Being a source of probiotics

- A source of antioxidants

- Having the ability to kill bad bacteria

- Potentially reducing heart disease

- Helping manage type two diabetes

- Possibly having cancer preventing properties

Issuing a word of warning, Healthline states, “If you decide to try homemade kombucha, make sure it’s properly prepared. Contaminated kombucha may cause more harm than good.”

Are there any possible side effects?

Due to the fermentation process of making kombucha, it contains a small amount of alcohol.

While the level of alcohol is generally incredibly small, pregnant women would be best to avoid the drink.

Diabetics should also be aware of the level of sugar that’s left over, even after fermentation.