Kombucha craze warning

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(SWEEPS FEED)- Fermented tea on tap. It’s a growing trend at some coffee and tea shops.

Customers like the taste, nutrition experts applaud the health benefits, but most tea that is fermented contains some levels of alcohol. Should consumers be concerned?

Katerina Eichenberger loves tea and recalls the first time she tried a special tea called kombucha.

“I have a friend who’s really into a lot of the organic drinks, and she was drinking it one day, so I tried it,” Eichenberger said.

Kombucha is a bubbly, fermented tea that you’re likely seeing more and more in coffee and tea shops, or on store shelves.

“Most of the people like the delicious taste of it. However, people will drink it because it’s healthy,” Ilana Malka said.

Malka owns a tea shop and says customers are drinking up the health benefits.

“It’s really good for the immune system, mostly, and it’s good for insomnia, it helps people to relax,” Malka said.

Kombucha is made by mixing tea and sugar which is then fermented using a probiotic culture in bacteria and yeast. The bacteria feeds on the sugar, and ferments the tea.

Experts say the fermentation process increases the nutrients in the beverage.

“So you’re getting more acids and antioxidants, enzymes, B vitamins, and of course the probiotics. And with all of those you’ll see some health benefits. It can aid digestion,” Laurie Meyer, a registered nutritionist & dietitian, said.

Fermentation also means that most kombucha has at least a trace level of alcohol in it, usually less than .5 percent, which can make it a beverage not for everyone.

“There’s a little bit of alcohol that’s produced, and so it’s not known whether or not this is going to be hazardous to a pregnant women so the recommendation is just don’t drink it, and also children under 6 it’s not recommended,” Meyer said.

She suggests you may want to take it slow the first time you try the fermented tea since it does contain live cultures which can make you feel ill if you have a digestive disorder.

“If you’re feeling flu-like symptoms, if you’re getting some stomach upset, it means you’ve taken too much. Back off of it,” Meyer added.

Katerina is not backing off, and says she’s liking this fizzy fermentation, “it’s like having tea. It’s a little bubbly, it tastes good!”

Kombucha is not new to the eastern world, Meyer says it actually originated in Asia more than 2,000 years ago. If you want to save some money, you can brew your own kombucha at home. Some health stores sell the probiotic culture, which can be used over and over.

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