Continuous "fermentation" Kombucha: is it suitable for everyone to drink?
Although fermented food has been the mainstream of international culture for thousands of years, Kombucha, a fermented beverage, has only recently become popular in the European and American markets. According to reports, Kombucha is one of the fastest growing products in the functional beverage market. Following the trend of healthy eating, the demand for fermented kombucha in the European and American markets continues to grow.
Kombucha is a folk traditional acidic beverage with a long history, commonly known as Kombucha, also known as "Haibao" or "Weibao". Its origin can be traced back to the northeast region of China around 220 BC.
Kombucha: a hot drink in Europe and America
Nowadays, the sales of kombucha in foreign countries are rising continuously, and it is labeled as healthy fermented food. According to a report released by Euromonitor, an independent market research company in the United Kingdom, in March 2018, Kombucha is one of the fastest-growing soft drink industry segments, satisfying consumers’ increasing demand for functional and healthy soft drink alternatives. Increasing demand.
Major production distributors and supermarkets
Various Kombucha brands, including Zooka, Brew Kombucha (a South African organic producer and seller of Kombucha), Happy Culture and Theonista (a small artisanal beverage company in Cape Town, South Africa), etc., and Spar (a multinational company in the Netherlands) Retail companies), Pickn Pay (South Africa’s second largest supermarket chain) and Checkers (South Africa’s a supermarket chain) are everywhere on the shelves of various supermarkets.
Using GoogleTrends to analyze the popularity of "Kombucha" in the past 10 years shows that the popularity of kombucha began to grow rapidly at the end of 2014. The top 10 countries are: New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, South Africa , Czech Republic and Denmark. In the past two and a half years, it has basically remained above 80 degrees.
Jessica Kotlowitz, a registered clinical dietitian based in Cape Town, said, “In the past few years, the public has become increasingly aware of the concept of probiotics and the importance of the intestinal tract for human health and immunity. Increased awareness has led to the growing popularity of fermented foods and beverages."
A report issued by a US market research company named Persistence Market Research estimates that by 2022, the global fermented food market is expected to exceed US$40 billion.
Now, fast food chains in developed countries can also see all kinds of fermented milk drinks everywhere, and supermarkets often stock a variety of sauerkraut, Korean kimchi and other foods. Football players and tennis players in the Premier League are now eating kimchi juice during the game in order to prevent muscle cramps, which has aroused further widespread concern for fermented foods.
Due to the popularity of kombucha, domestic manufacturers have also begun to deploy related products. For example, Netease Yanxuan has launched a green plum green tea kombucha drink.
In 2016, the producer KeVita was acquired by PepsiCo because its kombucha drinks and functional probiotics were so popular; it was reported that the retail volume of kombucha and other fermented beverages increased by 37.4% in 2017. In the functional beverage market, Kombucha is one of the fastest growing products.
At the end of 2017, David Begg founded Real Kombucha. He witnessed the development of kombucha from a fashionable drink into the mainstream.
When he first came into contact with British pubs, he received a cold reception. Today, Real Kombucha's kombucha products will soon be sold in more than 1,000 bars in the UK. This change is evident in the bar industry, where there is a growing demand for non-alcoholic beverages such as Kombucha.
Crate Brewery is a brewery located in the Hackney area of East London. Neil Hinchley, the owner of the company, said, “Now nearly 30% of young people who don’t drink alcohol. Go to bars, and many people just want to drink soft drinks other than lemonade and orange juice. Sometimes people don’t drink alcohol even when they go out for a relaxing break. It just so happens that Kombucha satisfies this."
Three Kombucha fermentation production lines are being installed in their factory.
Matthew Healey, co-founder of Zooka, a South African Kombucha producer, said: “Since 2018, we have increased monthly sales by an average of 90%. We have sold every bottle of Kombucha we produce and have already Exceed the company’s capacity."
So how exactly is Kombucha made?
Kombucha is a beverage produced by fermenting tea, sugar, water and bacteria. The tea is generally black tea, but oolong tea, green tea, white tea, etc. can also be used.
The bacteria used in fermentation are Symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) and bacteria, including yeast, lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid bacteria and other microorganisms. The various microorganisms have a mutually beneficial symbiosis relationship in this community, and the nutrients of one kind of microorganism happen to be the metabolites of another kind.
During the fermentation process, SCOBY converts the sugar in the tea by acid and alcohol, and the biofilm is gradually formed at the same time by itself. SCOBY can be reused. The more you make the SCOBY, the bigger and thicker it becomes.
According to Matthew Healay, the co-founder of Zooka, the "fermentation period of Kombucha is mainly about two weeks, and then it enters the secondary fermentation (carbonation) stage, which lasts for 4 to 7 days." The longer the fermentation time, the richer the foam. After fermentation is completed, the microbial tissue is separated from the beverage and bottled and refrigerated.
Kombucha has a sour taste similar to apple cider vinegar, with a slightly sweet taste. Many commercial brands have launched beverages with foam and gas, and added vanilla or fruit in the brewing process in order to attract more consumers. Kombucha on the market usually has an alcohol content of less than 0.5%, so it is considered a soft drink. Homemade can increase the alcohol content of Kombucha.
Is Kombucha beneficial?
Kombucha contains natural probiotics, just like other foods (yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut) that undergo a natural fermentation process, so it may improve intestinal health, digestion and immunity.
In theory, certain intestinal diseases related to the loss of healthy intestinal flora or the imbalance of certain healthy intestinal flora, drinking beverages containing these probiotics may indeed help treat.
At present, many in vitro and animal tests have shown that the health benefits of kombucha may mainly come from tea and fermentation products, including glucuronic acid, acetic acid, polyphenols and vitamins.
In addition, the caffeine present in kombucha can improve brain vitality, relieve fatigue and refresh the spirit.
Health benefits reported in in vitro and in vivo studies include antibacterial effects, protection of the liver and gastrointestinal tract, and enhancement of immunity.
Supporters also believe that Kombucha can help rheumatism, gout, hemorrhoids, etc., and even believe that it can fight cancer.
In addition, an epidemiological study reported that kombucha is beneficial to the treatment of diabetes. Twenty-four non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients who drank kombucha for three months found that their average blood sugar was stable within the normal range.
However, it should be noted that there is no rigorous scientific evidence to support the many curative effects of Kombucha. For example, in the above-mentioned epidemiological study on diabetes, no reasonable control was established.
An article in "Time" magazine also pointed out that "there is not enough scientific evidence to support most of the health effects." In this article, Dr. Zhaoping Li, a professor of medicine and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, stated that many health claims related to kombucha are actually inferences, mainly based on research on the human microbiome or the nutritional benefits of tea.
"There is a lot of hype. Some of the general properties of these foods may affect our body and may help the immune system. But they are not drugs. It is absurd to think that they can treat diseases such as cancer." University of California, Davis Maria Marco, professor of food science and technology, warned.
Should Kombucha be consumed?
More rigorous scientific research may be needed. The benefits of Kombucha to human health must not only be proven in vitro and on animals, but also need to be tested in clinical trials. At the same time, attention should be paid to the problems in the production process, and a standard process should be sought, such as whether factors such as weather, geographic location and medium in the brewing process will affect the effect of kombucha.
So should we drink this soft drink?
In view of the uncertainty about the therapeutic effects of Kombucha, David Ludwig, Professor of Pediatrics and Nutrition at Harvard University, said: “If you don’t like the taste of this beverage, but just for its health benefits, then I suggest you Maybe need to reconsider."
For those who like to add various microorganisms to their diet, Dr. Emeran Mayer, author of The Mind-Gut Connection, suggests: “I personally drink it occasionally. Instead of using pills or supplements, choose other fermented foods, including sauerkraut, Kimchi, fermented dairy products, and kombucha."
Kombucha is considered to have many benefits, including supplementing probiotics, helping digestion, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, improving intestinal health, regulating blood sugar and blood lipids, etc. So, what exactly is Kombucha? Is it really that amazing? Is it suitable for everyone?
Is Kombucha for everyone to drink?
As long as it is prepared properly, as a traditional food with a long history, kombucha itself is safe. If you want to make it at home, it is best not to use plastic or ceramics, but to use glass bottles, because the former may release harmful substances during the fermentation process.
Six of the 21 kombucha products inspected by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Marketing in the past two and a half years have exceeded the alcohol standard, and two of them even have an alcohol content of 7%. In the 2015 inspection, 9 out of 13 species exceeded the standards; in 2010, 20 out of 24 species exceeded the standards.
Earlier we mentioned that most Kombucha is sold as soft drinks, so its theoretical alcohol content is below the 0.5% threshold. However, due to fermentation or the way the product is stored, the alcohol content of kombucha will increase even after it is on the shelf.
Kombucha may not be suitable for pregnant women, children and people with liver disease. Similarly, if you are taking some drugs that may interact with alcohol, you should not drink kombucha. Although the current data is better than the past, it also means that the alcohol content in kombucha may exceed the standard.
For people with poor immune systems, excessive intake of probiotics may also cause serious infections, so drinking it is not recommended.
In addition, Kombucha may affect the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients, so if patients drink Kombucha, they should pay attention to changes in blood sugar.
Generally, substances with a pH value of less than 5.5 will cause tooth enamel to be corroded for a long time in contact with the tooth, and the pH value of kombucha is about 2.5~3.2. Long-term consumption of Kombucha can have bad side effects on teeth.
Kombucha may be an option to consider, if you happen to be looking for a healthier alternative to sugary drinks, and Kombucha fits your taste.