Milk and sugar in that tea? How about some bacteria? Having been founded as an ancient Chinese medicinal remedy around 2,000 years ago, this drink is hardly new, but with a modern makeover, kombucha is here to take the beverage market by storm. With flavours such as watermelon, ginger and even jalapeño up for grabs, kombucha might just be the new go-to thirst quencher.

So what actually goes into the mix?

A peculiar name has to come with a peculiar flavour too, right? Made up of sweetened black or green tea fermented with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), this “tea“ has a sour apple-cider taste with underlying vinegary notes – it’s safe to say that pure kombucha is for those with more adventurous taste buds.

Originally trending in the hipster market, this so-called healthy beverage is worming its way into a range of shops and restaurants, with the global kombucha market expected to grow to US$1.8 billion by 2020, according to industry reports.

Even global coffee giant Starbucks is jumping on the kombucha bandwagon, aiming to release a line of six fun, fruit-flavoured kombucha drinks under their Evolution Fresh brand in the US this coming autumn. The president of the brand, Ryan Ziegelmann, says, “We know our consumers are looking for beverages with functional benefits, and Evolution Fresh Organic Kombucha is just what they are asking for – a delicious and refreshing pick-me-up that also supports digestive wellness.” Let’s hope it’s not too long before this brand launches at Starbucks in Hong Kong.

Image titlePhoto credit: CNN Money

Sippin’ our way to better health?

Holding a quirky name and an Instagrammable image, we know that kombucha is all the rage for quenching health-conscious consumers’ needs, but does this funky concoction live up to its claims of being a healthy bevvy?

It may be time to suck it up and learn to love kombucha’s vinegary taste, because the production of acetic acid during the drink’s fermentation process has indeed been to found to increase the efficiency of the liver’s detoxifying abilities. Kombucha advocates preach the impact on immune system stimulation and arthritis prevention as a result of regular consumption. What’s more, the high vitamin B content is said to be the golden ticket to a healthier heart, hair, skin and nails.

Where to find kombucha in Hong Kong

There are a handful of shops, both physical and online, to pick up a bottle or two of kombucha should you have a craving for some effervescent fermented tea:

Make it yourself

Pick your own flavours! Food Craft HK kindly sell a kombucha starter kit. It includes everything you need to get started. (Food Craft have a wide range of alternative fermented food too, such as coconut yoghurt and unpasteurized sauerkraut.)

The starter kit frequently sells out though, so another option is to seek out a Facebook group for fermenting. Every batch of kombucha results in a new (baby) SCOBY – so there are always people with extra SCOBYs to give away. Everything else you can find in various shops across Hong Kong.

Jacqueline Cohen offers classes through her lantau mama website in case you need an extra push before starting.

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