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It’s five o’clock somewhere, which means it’s time for some bubbly…kombucha. Whether you’re a certified green juice lover or are grossed out by liquefied veggies, consider sipping on kombucha. It’s fizzy, sweet (okay, it’s a tad tart), and packed with health benefits. Daina Trout, a certified clinical nutritionist and co-founder of Health-Ade, a California-based kombucha company, gave us the scoop.
Simply put, kombucha is fermented tea. It’s naturally rich in probiotics and special cleansing acids that help detoxify the blood and liver. The drink is made with four ingredients: water, sugar, and tea and SCOBY (more on that later). But don’t let the sugar scare you. “Some don’t understand why we use sugar but it’s important to remember that probiotics eat sugar,” Trout tells Yahoo Beauty. “It’s not for you, it’s for the probiotic, which can’t release its good bacteria without it.”
The fourth and most unusual ingredient, SCOBY (a gelatinous mix of bacteria and yeast), gives kombucha its “mystical uniqueness,” and is key to the fermentation process, says Trout. Health-Aide sells pre-brewed kombucha in a bottle, but other brands offer kits containing ingredients for you to mix yourself (each contains one bottle of filtered water, one packet of sugar and SCOBY, and one tea bag.)
With DIY brands, here’s how it works: Place the SCOBY on top of the water, tea, and sugar combo and let it sit for seven to 21 days to allow fermentation. When it’s fizzy, somewhat sweet, and turns slightly cloudy, it’s ready to drink.
Given kombucha is such a simple process, it’s curious that bottles usually retail for $3.50 a pop. Costs can also add up when using glass bottles and organic fruit for natural flavors, as in the case of Trout’s Health-Aide kombucha. But it’s well worth it. “I liken it more to wine and beer making than any other beverage — it’s like like an art,” Trout says. “The time of day, temperature, and humidity all matter. It’s a process.”
Trout also recommends including a variety of fermented foods in your diet (sauerkraut, kimchi, olives, pickles) to improve digestive health. These foods are even a mood booster: Studies show that 95 percent of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin lives in the gut. Without a healthy gastrointestinal tract, your body can’t release those chemicals.
“From a biochemical standpoint, you’re replenishing your gut with the necessary flora it’s meant to have, so that the rest of your body can heal itself,” Trout says.
So might we suggest you try kombucha? It’s worth it!
This article originally appeared on Yahoo Beauty.