Ingredient of the month: kombucha
What is it?
A live culture with a symbiotic relationship with various healthy bacteria, kombucha can be fermented with tea and sugar to produce a health-promoting tonic.

Where does it come from?
It has been used in many cultures for centuries, particularly in Japan, Russia, China and Eastern Europe. It is known by several different names, including Manchurian tea, tea kvass and tea fungus.

When was it discovered? The use of kombucha has been recorded as far back as the Chinese Tsin Dynasty of 221 BC. Since then, its use has been widespread and its medicinal properties have been researched extensively.

How is it beneficial?
As well as boosting immunity, kombucha is thought to have a beneficial effect on the digestive system, encouraging the growth of good bowel flora. The acids produced during the fermentation process, including gluconic and malic acid, can help to detoxify the body, resulting in improved skin and increased energy.

What can be done with it?
Consumed as a tea, it has a tart taste and has been likened to apple cider.

—Hazel Welch

Industry insights from NBJ
Functional foods sales estimates 2005

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