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Green tea kombucha is a drink consumed by some for its purported medicinal benefits. It is made by adding a kombucha culture—a fungal mixture of bacteria and yeast—to sugar and green tea and allowing it to ferment. This fermented tea is commonly referred to as a mushroom tea, because the kombucha colony resembles a mushroom shape. It is not, however, derived from any actual mushroom. There have been no major medical studies conducted to prove whether kombucha tea has any health benefits, although many individuals have reported beneficial side effects, such as aiding digestion.
The green tea kombucha beverage most likely originated in China with the Tsin dynasty, around 220 B.C. Making its way along trade routes, the drink migrated to parts of Russia and India and continued to spread into new territories. After being introduced to Japanese culture, the drink reportedly became a staple of the Samurai, who have been said to carry the fermented tea with them into battle. Over time, kombucha has remained a popular drink in Eastern cultures, and has growing popularity in the West. Its early origins and popularity in Russia have given green tea kombucha the nickname of Russian tea.
The name kombucha may have originated from a Korean physician named Kombu, who might be the one responsible for introducing the tea to Japan. This story has a persuasive logic to it, given that cha is a Japanese and Korean word for tea. Combining Kombu and cha perfectly forms kombucha.
Although no scientific study has yet proven its health benefits, cultures for centuries have claimed green tea kombucha as an excellent medicinal remedy and health supplement. Being a probiotic, or substance containing healthy microorganisms, kombucha is thought to add to the balance of good bacteria in the stomach, thus aiding the digestive process as well as liver functions. It's also thought to help prevent cancer, boost energy levels and decrease allergies, among other things.
Bacteria in green tea kombucha can raise the pH, or acidic levels, within the stomach. Theoretically this can be good, because slightly raised pH levels could help ward off bad bacteria. In some cases, however, people have been hospitalized and have even died due to complications relating to raised lactic acid and pH levels. In some of these incidents, there has been a suspected link between potentially lethal pH levels and kombucha tea. Many people throughout history, although, have ingested kombucha tea with no adverse side effects. The important thing to note is that, due to a lack of scientific study, toxicity levels of and potential allergies to kombucha tea are not well understood or documented, and drinking it should be exercised with caution.
Kombucha tea can be purchased from health food stores or online stores. Many people also make it at home. This, however, requires a starter culture, which can then be nurtured in a glass jar. The drinker isn't limited to green tea kombucha; all types of teas—green, black, white—can be used to make this drink.