By Amy Blaney
A woman trying a kombucha drink for the first time has sparked a wave of relatable memes – and a brand-new health trend. The memes began after @Brittanyt445 posted a hilarious (and super relatable) TikTok of herself trying a trendy Kombucha drink.
We see the uncertainty of the first sip, a pause for thought, quickly followed by a face of disgust, but wait, she appears to be like it, and then, nope, never mind, it’s horrible, before the video ends with a neutral face that suggests she might yet be convinced. With ‘Kombucha Girl’ becoming a viral sensation, the fermented tea drink has become the ‘it’ health product.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that originated in China about 2,000 years ago. Time.com says it is made by adding a colony of symbiotic culture of live bacteria and yeast, commonly known as SCOBY, to sweetened tea. The mixture is left to ferment for a couple of weeks until it turns slightly sweet. The drink is then separated from the SCOBY and bottled.
The drink is packed with antioxidants, probiotics and B vitamins, making it a trendy health product. However, the nutritional value of the drink will depend on the brand, according to Time.com, as many store–bought kombucha drinks contain high amounts of sugar.
The probiotic nature of the drink brings health benefits such as improved digestion and a healthy gut. Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a dietician in New York, told Time.com, “Some sources claim that kombucha can positively impact gut health [by] decreasing inflammation and providing antioxidants because of the probiotics, however more research needs to be completed to confirm this claim”. During the fermentation process of kombucha, acetic acid is also produced, which is able to kill many potentially harmful bacteria. However, the health relevance of these antimicrobial properties is unclear.
Many nutritionists claim more research is needed to confirm the health benefits of Kombucha. Since Kombucha is made with tea, the drink contains a small amount of caffeine, but the amount is small compared to coffee or energy drinks. Colleen Chiariello, chief clinical dietitian in the department of food and nutrition at Syosset Hospital in New York, informed Time.com, “About one-third of the tea’s caffeine remains after it’s been fermented”, which the website states is not enough caffeine to have an impact on most people. The fad drink also contains a small amount of alcohol due to the fermentation process. The amount of alcohol in the drink is less than 0.5% alcohol by volume and is, therefore, marketed as a non-alcoholic beverage.
The popularity of Kombucha has grown immensely and the ‘it’ product is making its way into other consumable products, such as coffee and ice-cream. Many people believe that kombucha helps to treat all sorts of chronic health problems. However, human studies on the effects of kombucha are few and the evidence for its health benefits is minimal. In contrast, there is ample evidence for the benefits of tea and probiotics, both of which are found in kombucha.