What is kombucha and should I be drinking it?

I met up with Spring Arbor University senior Autumn Freeman, biology major and daughter of a “health nut,”  to discover what kombucha is, what it does, and why she drinks it.

ca pic
Autumn Freeman and Professor Jen Letherer

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink with a probiotic nature, which is what makes it so appealing to the “health nuts.” Autumn explained the complicated biology part to me like this:

There are twice as many bacterial cells in your body as your own cells. These cells help break down your food and protect you against things you touch. Everyone’s bacteria is unique. The kombucha supplements the good bacteria, which helps keep you healthy.

Where you can buy it

1) Walt’s Health Food 

This health food store is across from local favorite Chilangos. Autumn says that their kombucha is “the good stuff” and suggested pitching in with a few friends to get a bottle, since drinking a whole bottle during your first time might “shock your system.”

2) Target / Meijer 


These two chains have a pretty similar selection. Personally, I tried Mamma Chia’s Guava Mamma and, once I got used to drinking the chia seeds, I loved it. I also enjoyed the first few sips of Live Kombucha Soda’s Living Limon, but I found that 15 minutes later it tasted flat.

How can I make it?

Making Kombucha is a lengthy process, but it is worth it. It order to start you need a “mother liquid” from a different kombucha and its scoby  (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Autumn suggested either buying kombucha from the store or getting this from a friend who already brews.


  • 1 large Glass or ceramic jar (avoid using plastic or metal)
  • A few smaller glass or ceramic jars
  • Cloth


  • Tea – black or green
  • Sugar
  • Starter liquid
  • Scoby
  • Extras:
    • big chunks of fruit
    • fruit juices
    • chia seeds

Step 1

Take the scoby and the starter liquid and put it in your jar. Then mix the tea and sugar together and add it in. Seal the top with a cloth so your mixture can breathe. During this stage the scoby ferments the sweet tea. Leave this alone for a week to two weeks, occasionally taste-testing until your mixture makes the perfect tang-to-sweet ratio.

Step 2

Now take your mixture and add your extras! Autumn mentioned that the chia seeds are really fun, since “they’re dry and really tiny when you put them in…the mixture, then they expand and get really gelatinous and wonderful.” She also said blueberries and mangos work really well, but apples do not.

Tip: The more sugar that the fruit juice has, the more carbonated it will be in a shorter period of time, since the bacteria will have more to work with.

Step 3

Take your mixture and put it in separate sealed glass containers for a week. After that is done, refrigerate, and enjoy!

Buy it before you try it!

It is really important to pay attention while making your kombucha. If you leave the lid off while making it, you risk mold and dust getting in. Additionally, there recently was a food poisoning bacteria strain was going around the world and ended up in Autumn’s brew. (If your kombucha turns green, throw it out!)

FAQ: Is kombucha alcoholic?

Technically, yes! It is a fermented drink, which means that a sugar source was turned into alcohol. However, the alcohol content is so low that is nearly impossible to get buzzed off of the tea.

By Courtney Applebee



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