Guest Posting: Is Kombucha the New Soda? by Jared and Deanne Gustafson
Kombucha is a rising star in the beverage world, long used by ancient cultures as medicine with recognized health benefits. The contrast with popular sodas and soft drinks couldn’t be more stark.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Although human studies are few and science cannot back all of the claimed health benefits of kombucha, several animal studies point in the right direction. Kombucha has several health-sustaining properties, including:
- cholesterol reduction
- supports the immune system
- stimulates the detoxification of the liver
- supports digestion
Kombucha tea also contains various minerals, vitamins, and amino-acids derived mainly from the tea used in its preparation. It contains:
- Vitamins E, K, B
- Theanine amino acid
The duration of the fermentation process and the type of tea used influence the beneficial properties of kombucha.
A study on the health benefits of kombucha has shown that in terms of the type of tea used in the fermentation process, kombucha prepared from green tea has the highest antioxidant potential, with maximum potential being achieved on the first day of fermentation. In terms of time, in the case of the different varieties analyzed (made from green, black, white, and red tea), the ability to deactivate free radicals decreased with the increase in the time of fermentation.
Another aspect of kombucha dependent on the fermentation time is the sugar content. The same study showed, not surprisingly, that sugar levels were highest before fermentation started and decreased with every day of fermentation.
An exception is in the case of kombucha made from red or green tea. In this case, sugar content dropped directly after adding the starter, increasing and approaching initial values on the seventh day of fermentation. Sugar levels then slowly decrease if the fermentation process continues.
The reduction in sugar during the fermentation process is because the yeast and bacteria in the SCOBY are eating the sugar and generating small amounts of alcohol and organic acids.
Kombucha vs. Soda
Kombucha has several health benefits that soda lacks. Commercial sodas are full of sugar, chemicals, and preservatives, while raw kombucha is low in sugar, all-natural, preserved by refrigeration, not chemicals, and isn’t pasteurized.
Some kombucha health-supporting properties come from the live colony of bacteria found in the drink. A pasteurization process kills these bacteria, which means that pasteurized kombucha is not as healthy as raw varieties. But, even so, they are still a healthier choice than commercial soft drinks.
There have been some studies on the harmful effects of soda, and has been found that they include:
- Weight gain
- Type 2 diabetes
Soda can also increase the risk of several diseases such as
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
Even though kombucha has caught the spotlight relatively recently, its popularity is growing day by day. It’s health benefits offer it a considerable advantage in comparison to the well known soft drinks.
Besides having various health benefits, it is also a refreshing and tasty drink. Due to its low caloric index, you can enjoy it as much as you like without worrying about putting on extra weight.
Kombucha rises in popularity as soft drinks lose ground
While the soft drink and energy drink markets span the globe, consumers rising interest in health and sugar reduction has dealt a blow to these beverages, allowing healthier alternatives, such as kombucha, to flourish.
Soft drinks consumption has steadily declined in the U.S. since it reached its peak in the late 90s. The past five years have experienced a steady decline of 5-7 % in per capita consumption, and recent studies show that this trend will continue in the future.
Meanwhile, kombucha has experienced a significant boost in popularity.
In 2019, the global Kombucha market size was $1,356.2 million, and it is expected to reach $8,153.4 million by the end of 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.9%.
A recent global kombucha market research report presents an overview of the kombucha market trends since 2016 and its evolution in the future. It predicts that the market will witness significant growth.
In terms of regions, North America dominates the global market, accounting for over half the revenue.
Awareness of the need to combat the obesity epidemic in developed countries, coupled with the rising taxes on sugar products in the U.S., is acting as a restraining factor on carbonated soft drinks and a favorable factor for products like low-calorie kombucha beverages.
All this shows that kombucha’s popularity will continue to rise as carbonated soft drinks continue to lose ground.
Jared and Deanne Gustafson are the owners of Kombucha on Tap, a full-service distributor of kegged kombucha, cold brew coffee, tea, sparkling water, and more, in San Diego, California.