Kombucha is having quite a moment. A decade ago, this fizzy fermented beverage was nearly unheard of as a mainstream refreshment. In 2009, Slate called kombucha “the most liberal product in America,” a reference to its niche popularity among health-conscious urbanites.
Today, kombucha has become a widely-popular cold drink among individuals of all ages, appreciated for its sweet-and-sour flavor and probiotic health benefits. Trends show that this drink isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; 51 percent of adults ages 25-34 drink kombucha regularly. Year-over-year, analysts expect that the consumption of kombucha will grow 25 percent between now and 2020.
Although kombucha may be new to you, it’s actually been around for a while. The drink was first created as a healing elixir in Northeast China over 2,000 years ago. To understand the lasting popularity of this drink and why it’s better on tap, it’s important to understand what kombucha is made of.
What is Kombucha Made Of?
Kombucha is made through a fermentation process involving a few simple ingredients; black or green tea, sugar, yeast and a kombucha scoby. The scoby, which resembles a thin, floating mushroom, has live cultures to create this fermented, slightly-fizzy drink that smells a bit like vinegar. The mixture is brewed for anywhere between 7 to 30 days with shorter fermentation cycles resulting in a milder and sweeter flavor.
The answer to “what is kombucha made of” can vary slightly depending on beverage flavor. As the drink has increased in popularity, additives such as fruit juice, whole fruit and spices are combined into unique tastes. Combinations can include creative recipes like blueberry vanilla, citrus cayenne, strawberry basil or raspberry lime.
The Health Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha’s ancient Chinese roots are fully-medicinal, though its role today in the American diet is somewhere between refreshment and health drink. It experienced a spike in popularity in the 1960s, when Swiss researchers worked to compare the drink’s probiotic properties to live-cultured yogurt.
Fermentation expert Sander Katz first sipped kombucha in 1994. “It was touted as a general immune stimulant, though claims of kombucha’s benefits have been extraordinarily varied and broad,” says Katz.
Despite its near-mythical status in ancient medicine as a cure-all, kombucha is unlikely to provide any dramatic health benefits. However, the fermentation process allows kombucha to have a probiotic effect which encourages a healthy gut and digestion.
The “bubbly drink offers plenty of health benefits, including improved digestion and immune function,” says Registered Dietitian Lisa Moskowitz. According to Moskowitz, these probiotic effects are boosted by a healthy dose of B vitamins, enzymes and organic acids. Kombucha is an effective way to target bloat and sluggish digestion. It offers individuals a quick energy pick-me-up without forcing them to turn to caffeine.
Why Kombucha is Better on Tap
If you’ve sampled Kombucha from the grocery store, you’ve probably had it in a single-serve glass bottle or aluminum can. However, when all things are considered, kombucha is much better on tap. It can be stored and served in the same chilled keg storage system used for beer, wine and cold brew. The batch can be poured through plastic lines to fill a glass on-demand.
The keg storage approach to kombucha offers unique benefits, including diminished waste and a better final product. Not only does a keg avoid the waste of individual bottles, it allows you to pour as much (or as little) as you want at a time.
When Kombucha is put into a keg after brewing, KegWorks notes there’s an option for “forced carbonation.” This means the brewer can ensure the batch has exactly the right amount of fizz in each glass with a Nitrogen tank and regulator. This prevents the off-putting sour experience associated with a glass of flat kombucha, even if the contents of the keg are consumed very slowly.
Kombucha is the Next Big Workplace Beverage
A few years ago, few people craved a cold kombucha. Today, the ancient beverage is prized by health-conscious individuals of all ages for its satisfying fizz, complex flavor, digestive benefits and energy boost.
For employers, offering kombucha on tap in the workplace can enhance refreshment offerings and communicate employee appreciation. A mid-afternoon glass of kombucha can help employees avoid an energy slump after a heavy lunch while promoting general well-being among staff members at the same time.
Since 1996, Corporate Essentials has been a leading provider of full-service office refreshment services, including the latest innovations in healthy snacks and beverages. We’re proud to offer Kombucha on tap along with a host of other cold drinks, including nitro cold brewed coffee by the keg, coconut water and fresh-pressed juices.