By Adrienne Jack

Coffee or tea: the big debate. On a national level, coffee is probably the preferred choice to kick-start the day. But if you’re looking for a healthier alternative, you might want to make the switch to tea – and not just any kind of tea.

Kombucha tea, otherwise known as “mushroom tea” or the “elixir of life,” is a fermented, probiotic drink famous for its numerous health benefits. Although it’s been around for thousands of years, you might say this tonic has become a hot new trend in the modern world of health beverages, with projected sales of $1.8 billion by 2020.

So what’s the rave about – and what is kombucha tea, anyway?

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is brewed from bacteria and yeast (collectively named SCOBY: symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), refined sugar, and black, green, or oolong tea. This mixture is typically fermented for around 7-10 days, resulting in a naturally effervescent infusion containing vinegar, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace amounts of alcohol (from the fermentation). The tea can have an acidic, tart quality, but don’t be put off – you can add juice to the base liquid to make it tastier.

How Is the Tea Good for You?

From kombucha tea, drinkers are likely to experience some pretty amazing healing properties. Here’s why each of the tea’s ingredients are good enough to add to your daily diet:

  1. Probiotics

As it’s high in probiotics, kombucha provides your body with lots of healthy bacteria. And probiotics have benefits of their own. “Probiotics, or the good gut bacteria, are being linked to multiple health benefits, including improved digestion, immune health, fighting depression, and even improved dental health in children,” says dietitian Heather Mangieri, spokeswoman for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  1. B Vitamins

Added to the good bacteria, Kombucha tea’s B vitamin content is great for brain development and behavior. A lot of research has gone into the relationship between fermented foods and mental health – and the results are very encouraging, according to senior naturopath Michelle Crowder. “We do know from a biomedical standpoint that B vitamins are … important for nervous system function, and hormone and [nerve signaling] balance.”

  1. Iron

Not only does the tea contain probiotics that boost immune health, but the contents also help to boost energy and metabolism. The tea’s combination of B vitamins, caffeine and iron is what makes you feel invigorated. Energizing the body then helps with conditions such as chronic fatigue, and promotes weight loss.

  1. Antioxidants

Kombucha’s high antioxidant content frees up radicals that wreak havoc in the body. Benefits to this include restoring balance to the digestive system and stimulating the immune system. In fact, the antioxidants protect against cell damage and inflammatory diseases, helping to reduce risks of cancer.

  1. Detoxifiers

The detoxifying properties of the drink help to renew, cleanse, and detoxify the body; especially the liver. Improving liver function reduces risks of liver diseases, and – fun fact – also improves your mood.

So, what are you waiting for? Rather than miss out on all this goodness, you’d better get sipping.

Note: You may be into the idea of DIY fermentation, but experts suggest that home-brewing the tea is a little risky. If fermented incorrectly, the tea may contain unhealthy bacteria or increased alcohol content. Your best bet is to buy a commercially prepared tonic, like ours!