More and more Americans are picking up bubbly, fizzy drinks on the run — but not the one you’re thinking of. As health-conscious consumers put down the soda and pick up healthier options, kombucha has quickly become one of the best-selling beverages on the market. But what is it?
Kombucha, a fermented tea made with sugar, yeast, and fungi, originated in one of the world’s largest tea-consuming countries: China. The Tsin Dynasty, in about 220 B.C.E., lauded the drink for its “detoxifying and energizing” properties. Centuries later, a physician brought the tea fungus to Japan, and it eventually found its way along trade routes in Southeast Asia and spread throughout Europe. By the 20th century (with a small dip in popularity due to WWII rations of tea leaves), Russians, Germans, the French, the Swiss, and North Africans had made kombucha a part of their diet.
In the 1960s, Swiss researchers recognized that the fermentation in kombucha was promising for gut health, thanks to its healthy dose of probiotics, and recommended it for its health benefits. Since then, the drink has been said to promote immunity, relieve inflammation, reduce stress, and even improve hair, skin, and nails. And consumers can’t get enough of it: Annual sales of kombucha in the U.S. reached more than $500 million in 2016.
But if you’re one of the few who haven’t picked up a bottle of kombucha in the past decade, you’ll be surprised — the mouth-puckering tartness combined with a bubbly effervescence makes the drink unlike anything else. It’s funky, it’s sweet, it’s lively, and it pairs with more foods than you might think. Here are four dishes that work well with KeVita Master Brew Kombucha; you might even want to drive by your favorite taco truck just to give it a try.