What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Kombucha

Kombucha has long been a player in the wellness world, dating back to Chinese culture in 200 BCE. For those unfamiliar, it's a beverage that generally begins with green or black tea which is then fermented with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (also referred to as SCOBY). The name is said to be derived from Dr. Kombu, a Korean physician who presented the drink to Emperor Ingyō of Japan to help cure his ailments. (Back then it was much more savory and made with mushrooms—not the sweet commercial variations we drink today.) As a testament to its large concentration of B vitamins, Japanese samurai warriors allegedly carried the tea in their wineskins to energize them for battle. Fast-forward to several centuries later, and kombucha's popularity skyrocketed worldwide, with figureheads even claiming it had the ability to address serious diseases like AIDS and cancer. Of course, such claims have not been proven. Despite the validity of these large assertions, there are several chemical compounds found in kombucha that make the case for it being a nutritious, "functional" beverage. These are all dependent on the individual fermentation times of the brews, the temperature at which they're manufactured, and their sugar content, among other factors, but generally speaking, you'll likely find several B vitamins, detoxifying glucuronic acid, and antioxidant-rich polyphenols, all adding to the allure of the beverage.

We recently visited the HQ of Bear's Fruit, a Brooklyn-based kombucha company, where co-founder Amy Driscoll chatted with us about the benefits of this popular carbonated beverage. Driscoll poured through stacks of research (though truth be told, more studies need to be done) and put together 10 scientifically backed benefits of kombucha to validate its thousands of years of existence. Her words, below.