Not only does it have the same health benefits as tea — it's also rich in beneficial probiotics.
Kombucha also contains antioxidants, can kill harmful bacteria and may help fight several diseases.
Here are the top 8 health benefits of kombucha, based on scientific evidence.
Kombucha is thought to originate in China or Japan.
It's made by adding specific strains of bacteria, yeast and sugar to black or green tea, then allowing it to ferment for a week or more (1Trusted Source).
During this process, bacteria and yeast form a mushroom-like film on the surface of the liquid. This is why kombucha is also known as "mushroom tea."
This blob is a living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or a SCOBY, and can be used to ferment new kombucha.
The fermentation process produces acetic acid (also found in vinegar) and several other acidic compounds, trace levels of alcohol and gases that make it carbonated (2Trusted Source).
A large amount of bacteria also grow in the mixture. Although there is still no evidence for the probiotic benefits of kombucha, it contains several species of lactic-acid bacteria which may have probiotic function. (3Trusted Source).
Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria. These bacteria can improve many aspects of health, including digestion, inflammation and even weight loss.
For this reason, adding beverages like kombucha to your diet might improve your health in many ways.
Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
This is because green tea contains many bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which function as powerful antioxidants in the body (4Trusted Source).
Kombucha made from green tea contains many of the same plant compounds and presumably boasts some of the same benefits (5Trusted Source).
Studies show that drinking green tea regularly can increase the number of calories you burn, reduce belly fat, improve cholesterol levels, help with blood sugar control and more (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
Kombucha, especially when made with green tea, appears to have antioxidant effects in your liver.
Rat studies consistently find that drinking kombucha regularly reduces liver toxicity caused by toxic chemicals, in some cases by at least 70% (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
While no human studies exist on this topic, it does seem like a promising area of research for people with liver disease.
One of the main substances produced during the fermentation of kombucha is acetic acid, which is also abundant in vinegar.
Like the polyphenols in tea, acetic acid is able to kill many potentially harmful microorganisms (20Trusted Source).
These antimicrobial effects suppress the growth of undesirable bacteria and yeasts, but they do not affect the beneficial, probiotic bacteria and yeasts involved in kombucha fermentation.
The health relevance of these antimicrobial properties is unclear.
Heart disease is the world's leading cause of death (22).
Type 2 diabetes affects over 300 million people worldwide. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
A study in diabetic rats found that kombucha slowed down the digestion of carbs, which reduced blood sugar levels. It also improved liver and kidney function (23Trusted Source).
Kombucha made from green tea is likely to be even more beneficial, as green tea itself has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels (31Trusted Source).
In fact, a review study of almost 300,000 individuals found that green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic (32Trusted Source).
Further human studies are needed to investigate the benefits of kombucha for blood sugar control.
Cancer is one of the world's leading causes of death. It is characterized by cell mutation and uncontrolled cell growth.
How the anti-cancer properties of tea polyphenols work is not well understood.
However, it's thought that the polyphenols block gene mutation and growth of cancer cells while also promoting cancer cell death (35).
However, whether kombucha has any anti-cancer effects in people has not been confirmed. Further studies are needed.
Kombucha is a probiotic-rich tea with many potential health benefits.
You can purchase it in stores or make it yourself at home. However, be sure to prepare it properly.
Contaminated or over-fermented kombucha can cause serious health problems and even death. Homemade kombucha may also contain up to 3% alcohol (2Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).
The safer option is to buy kombucha at a store or online. Commercial products are tasty and considered alcohol-free, as they must contain less than 0.5% alcohol (42Trusted Source).
However, check the ingredients and try to avoid brands that are high in added sugar.