Let me first preface this by saying that if I were indeed keeping count, this would probably be Reason #206 on Why Whole Foods Market ROCKS!
Alright, now onto the story.
This past weekend I made a pit stop at my local Whole Foods for a few essentials, and before heading out, I decided to take a quick detour to the refrigerated beverage section of the store. Typically, I avoid this section during non-cheat days because it’s right next to the bakery and pizza counter, but this particular day I made an exception because I was quite eager to scope out any new low carb/low sugar beverage brands that I should make a mental note to try. It was then that I spotted a row of very interesting looking beverages with what appeared to be small seeds floating in them. I picked up one bottle (the bottle you see above) and proceeded to study the label. I must’ve had a somewhat intense look on my face because a Whole Foods employee (let’s call him “Mr. Awesome”) asked if I needed help. I told him how I’d never seen a brand of kombucha with chia seeds. So then Mr. Awesome says, “Oh, it’s great! Want to try it on us for free?” Of course I enthusiastically replied, “Health yeah!” and he then happily slapped on that Whole Food complimentary sticker on the bottle you see below. NICE! After that pleasant experience, I made my way to the checkout line, eager to share on Instagram before taking a swig of the kombucha-chia seed concoction (I’ll report on that later).
And now, I’m sure some of you are wondering: What is kombucha?
Let’s do a bit of Q&A.
Kombucha is a fermented drink that’s prepared by mixing together tea, sugar, as well as a “SCOBY” (or a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY is used to drive the fermentation process, and after a few days, the yeast and bacteria end up metabolizing most of the sugar, and subsequently excreting an amber-colored byproduct comprised of acetic acid, lactic acid, alcohol, B vitamins and other compounds. This byproduct is what we call kombucha.
What does kombucha taste like?
Due to the fact that it’s fermented, kombucha is a somewhat of a “fizzy” drink with a carbonated flair. The taste is a distinct blend of sweet and sour. Some people describe the “sour” as very light vinegar, while some describe the sweet/sour blend as a “sour apple.”
What’s so special about kombucha?
Funny enough, like most healthy foods that suddenly become all the rage, some might be surprised to discover that kombucha is far from this “hot new thing.” The tea, in fact, dates back thousands of years and was actually an ancient Chinese elixir used for medicinal purposes. Fast forward to present day, and what makes kombucha so “special” is that it’s been linked to quite a few health benefits, and is essentially used by many as a naturopathic remedy of sorts. Are there any human studies to substantiate any of these claims? No. However two animal studies of note have shown that kombucha does have health benefits− in rats at least. The first study published in the journal Food & Function in 2010 found that lab rats with stomach ulcers could be effectively treated with a Kombucha culture. Most notably, the Kombucha culture proved to be just as effective in treating the ulcers as the medication, omeprazole (which is a common medication used to treat stomach ulcers in humans). And in a second study published in 2003, it was found that kombucha tea helped improve the immune systems of immunocompromised rats.
To that end, there are many who swear by kombucha’s ability to cure a multitude of maladies, as well as its ability to improve digestion (due to its high content of probiotics), improve liver function, boost immunity, etc… But once again, none of this has been proven by scientific study in humans.
Now a few Fun Facts on Kombucha:
Fun Fact 1: Kombucha does contain alcohol (to variable degrees), and in 2010 the FDA sent warning letters to several commercial kombucha manufacturers, when it was found that some manufactured teas contained far higher alcohol levels than are allowed in non-controlled beverages.
Fun Fact 2: It’s pretty easy to make kombucha at home. All you have to do is combine strong-brewed, sweetened, usually black or green teas with a bit of already prepared kombucha and a SCOBY. Note: this is a very generic description of how to make kombucha. I’m not an expert on making kombucha, but from my research it is indeed quite easy to make, so Google around if you want a more detailed description of how to make at home.
My Taste Test Results + Final Thoughts
I won’t beat around the tea bush, so simply put: GT Kombucha Synergy Raspberry Chia was delish! I absolutely loved it. Most important of all, the nutrition profile is solid and the addition of chia seeds provided a unique twist to the texture of traditional kombucha, as well as a much welcomed health boost (hello, omega-3’s and fiber!). Also, and this will come as a very pleasant surprise to many: Despite its sweet taste, kombucha is in fact very low in sugar. This particular brand of GT has only 2 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving. Yes, very nice indeed and definitely Dr. Phoenyx Approved! Furthermore, I will go on record that despite the lack of studies in humans, from a standpoint of pure logic and deductive reasoning, I’d have no problem recommending kombucha as a probiotic drink. Just think about. Other fermented foods like kefir and yogurt, due to their rich content of healthy bacteria and probiotics, are often suggested and used as digestive aids. Furthermore, research has shown that consuming probiotics promotes a healthy gut in humans. So if you have digestive or intestinal issues like bloating, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, kombucha may be something to try. And of course, if you’re just looking for a great tasting drink while upping your intake of probiotics, kombucha would be a good choice too.
Last but definitely not least, in closing I’d like to send much love to Whole Foods Market for once again being a purveyor of delish, healthy eats. And an especially warm Thank you to Paldenla, aka “Mr. Awesome” (Silver Spring, Whole Foods Employee). You guys rock!
Ever tried Kombucha? Any particular brands of Kombucha that you love and would like to share? − Doc
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