Got problems with your tummy? If you’re feeling gutsy, try this tea

Francesca D'Annunzio

A layer of slime on any food looks unappealing, not to mention possibly dangerous. However, there is one drink where a layer of slime is an essential ingredient.

That drink is kombucha. It’s brewed with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, commonly referred to as a scoby, which forms a thick layer on the surface of the kombucha during the fermentation process. Though the scoby is removed after fermentation is complete, traces of yeast still remain at the bottom of the beverage.

Nonetheless, Kombucha has its fans. According to John-Paxton Gremillion, a co-owner and head of sales at Buddha’s Brew in Austin, some customers love kombucha so much they are willing to get up at 9 a.m. on a Sunday to fill up their jugs with it at the Barton Creek Mall Farmer’s Market.

But what draws people to this drink that is born beneath fermenting slime?

According to an Economist article published in December 2017, like other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt and kimchi, kombucha can replenish important bacteria in your gut. The level and types of microbes in your gut can either aid or deter digestive processes and can play a key role in determining mood.

Drue McKelvey, an employee of Zama Tea and Kombucha in Tustin, California, said she has experienced that kombucha consumption can regulate digestion.

On the other hand, McKelvey’s colleague, Zac Shannon, said he did not have any stomach ailments prior to becoming a booch lover, but appreciates the taste.

“It’s kind of just a treat for me,” Shannon said. “I know the owner (of Zama Tea), it did help a lot with her.”

For Gremillion, kombucha has reaped health benefits beyond regulated digestion, such as improved energy levels.

“(Kombucha) made me feel energetic in a natural way. I’m not a huge fan of coffee or caffeinated sodas or anything like that,” Gremillion said. “It doesn’t have the crash. You get a nice little metabolic energy boost, but you don’t get this kind of lull of crash forty minutes later like you do from a lot of energy drinks.”

Nonetheless, kombucha does also have small amounts of caffeine. Caffeine Informer reported kombucha has about 24 mg of caffeine per cup. This amount is minimal, compared to coffee, which has about 95 mg. For those wanting to cut down on caffeine but are still looking for a little kick, kombucha could be the answer.

However, those who refrain from consuming, or cannot consume, alcohol for health or religious reasons should know that this bubbly brew contains trace amounts of it. According to FDA regulations, non-alcoholic kombucha sold in stores is supposed to have 0.5 percent alcohol or less. Alcoholic kombucha can only be purchased by those who are 21 and over.

Since kombucha can be pricey for those who drink it frequently, some individuals pick up home brewing. Gremillion offers a few tips for those who aspire to brew their own booch.

“The scoby will just keep growing forever as long as you keep giving it more sweet tea,” Gremillion said. “If you ferment longer than two to three weeks, then it just becomes progressively more sour and you do want to be a little careful when it goes past four weeks because what can happen is it will become so sour that it could become more like vinegar.”

Although it looks bizarre and has stringy substances clinging to the bottom of the glass, if you are brave enough to look past its horrid appearance for the sake of your gut health or for a sweet and subtle caffeine kick, kombucha just might be your cup of tea.