The Manchurian Mushroom: Kombucha

written by Anjula June 28, 2007

Kombucha, the “mushroom drink”, also known as the “Manchurian mushroom” is a healthful drink made from a culture that grows on tea, sugar, and water. The increase in popularity of Kombucha can be seen with the many commercial brands now entering the retail marketplace and from the myriad of web pages about the fermented beverage. Becoming more and more common amongst the health-food and yoga set, with annual sales of $34 million according to a recent article by Katy McLaughlin for The Wall Street Journal (6/23/07), we decided to go in for a closer look.

Kombucha has been described as possessing some fantastic therapeutic qualities, if you can stand the way it looks, tastes and smells. God knows I couldn’t bring myself to drink it the first few times I tried…at least not with my eyes open. At first glance, it reminded me of the first time I tried egg drop soup as a child. It just didn’t seem like something meant for human consumption, seemed a bit too slimy. Well after much procrastination, I finally took the plunge. Conclusion: Ginger is the best flavor being that it’s the only flavor that seems to mask the yeasty acidity that I associate most Kombucha drinks with. A few tips for Kombucha selection: – Buy it from a well-stocked health food store – Whole Foods carries a great selection. – Buy a bottle that has a small mat floating on the top – this suggests that it is still alive. – Don’t be alarmed by the taste, Kombucha tastes strange.

The claimed benefits:

  • Boosts your own immune system, detoxifies the body, encourages the growth of good flora in the digestive system and balances the metabolism.
  • Besides drinking the tea, it can be applied topically to the skin to make a compress for abscesses and ulcers, a cream for skin disorders and can even be used as a hair rinse.
  • Recent studies conducted in Germany have confirmed that Kombucha has in vitro antimicrobial activity, enhancing sleep and pain thresholds, while also possessing potent anti-oxidant and immunopotentiating activities.
  • Kombucha tea is a food supplement and not a substitute for healthy eating.

Interested in making your own Kombucha tea, check out: Seeds of Health for some great and simple recipes.

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