Kombucha is an ancient home remedy from east Asia that infiltrated the west via Russia at the turn of the century, but only in the last few years has the friendly tea-fungus with the funny name really made its mark in the world of health food. Kombucha is essentially a sweet fermented tea, containing good bacteria and yeast cultures. Organic acids, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, and polyphenols abound in this naturally fizzy brew.
The acetic acid in kombucha combats bad bacteria, and the butyric acid that is produced by the yeasts can actually help halt the onset of yeast infections like candida. Your intestines need beneficial flora (bacteria) to digest and process nutrients for you and to defend your body against harmful bacteria; drinking kombucha leaves your belly populated with a good dose of this flora. For vegans, the B vitamins alone are a great reason to bring some kombucha into your life. It also is a formidable opponent to constipation. Most devotees regard it as an all-around, overall-condition booster.
Although the FDA has not weighed in on kombucha (and there have not been many scientific documentations or trials done with kombucha), many researchers are finally talking up the loftier claims of its immune-boosting properties.
Some people report feeling slightly drunk or high from drinking kombucha, even though it contains only trace amounts of alcohol (only 0.5 percent to 1.7 percent, usually). A psychoactive amino acid, L-theanine, is naturally present in the tea, which may be part of what provides the kombucha happy high. L-theanine has been shown in studies to increase the alpha-wave function of the human brain, which has been compared to being in a peaceful or meditative state or reading a good book. Alpha-wave states are said to be healing and calming. You may not want to drink kombucha and drive-at least try it yourself and see how you feel. It seems to affect people differently. Some drink it first thing in the morning and all day long. If I drink a bottle on an empty stomach, I feel entirely loopy. I tend to have it only at night before bed, then stumble off to bed in a relaxed and happy kombucha stupor.
In any case, the fermented beverage is growing more and more mainstream each day. The Google cafeteria in Mountain View, California, serves about 100 glasses daily!