An amazing story about a special tea.
Researchers and scientists say it has special health properties.
I've recently got into a special tea called Kombucha. I was (and am) quite sceptical about all the wild and wonderful claims made about this tea, but I must admit it tastes delicious so that's a start. And I figure if so many people are raving about it, then it must be doing some people good. As I get more and more interested in the effects good nutrition can have on our performance and well-being, it seems right to delve deeper into stories like these.
So what's it all about?
This tea is fermented, and supposed to have incredible health properties as have been discovered by researchers, scientists and all-round foodies over many years.
The tea works by detoxifying and energising your body, and because it's fermented, there's plenty of 'good bacteria' in it. Oh, don't ask me about science, I'll leave that to the story below.
One of the stories about how they discovered the special properties of Kombucha is especially interesting. Over to Tom Valentine, at Search for Health who writes about a prominent Kombucha researcher Günther Frank.
In his book, Gunther Frank relates an amazing but true story about Soviet cancer researchers in the crucial years just before Stalin died in 1954.
The Soviet cancer researchers determined to find out why, where and how this dread disease had increased so dramatically following World War II. The researchers analyzed the cancer epidemiology community by community in minute detail-taking into detailed account all the environmental factors.
There in the midst of dreadful cancer statistics two districts in the region of Penn on the Kama river in the central western Ural mountains stood out like neon lights. The districts of Ssolikamsk and Beresniki had hardly any cancer cases reported, and those few with cancer often turned out to be people who had only recently moved into the area from elsewhere.
How could this be? Environmental conditions were not any better than other districts - in fact the region had potassium, lead, mercury and asbestos mining with production facilities spewing plenty of pollution. Even trees in the area and fish in the Kama were dying.
Two teams of scientific investigators were set up, one in Ssolikamsk, the other in Beresniki. They probed into private lives and investigated and analyzed. In the end they were puzzled. Günther Frank points out in detail how the people of these two districts drank as much vodka as other Russians, but did not seem to have the social drunkenness problems, nor the poor work record usually associated with drinking. The problem was finding an explanation for this curious improvement.
It is "tea kvass", the old babushka said
Then it happened that one of the scientific team leaders personally visited the home of a family selected to be studied. It was a warm summer day and the family was away - only an elderly "babushka" was at home.
The old woman offered Dr. Molodyev a refreshing beverage. What was it, he asked? She responded that it was "tea kvass." The doctor knew of a "kvass" that was fermented from bread. But Dr. Molodyev had never known of this particular product named tea kvass. Molodyev inquired and learned from the babushka all about the "tea wine" made from the "tea sponge."
The "spongy mushroom thing" floating in the sugary tea was not exactly appetizing to look upon, but, as the elderly woman explained: the drink was tasty enough and "very healthy, easy to digest, and what's more, it is free!"
The spongy thing looked ugly, but drink was tasty
It tumed out that other researchers and doctors also stumbled across tea kvass at about the same time and it was soon confirmed that hardly a home in the region was without the fermenting crocks of kvass or Kombucha.
"Here was a cheap and beneficial folk beverage. Even alcoholics drank large quantities of it before, during and after drinking alcohol. The remarkable thing about this was that after consuming large quantities of alcohol, drinkers showed hardly any signs of inebriation. Drunken offenses caused as a result of consuming alcohol were extremely rare" the Soviet researchers noted. "The consumption of alcohol and tobacco was rather higher in the areas investigated than in other regions of the USSR."
The Central Bacteriological Institute in Moscow determined they were dealing with "the little known Kombucha, or Japanese tea sponge."
Hang on, so this is a special tea that stops us getting sick, and gets rid of hangovers? It's got to be worth trying a bottle right? I'm only just starting out in the world of Kombucha, so if you're reading this and you've tried it or you drink it regularly, let me know over in the comments here. I'd love to know what you think.
Have you tried it? I want to hear about it, so let me know in the comments section. Oh and next week, a special blog on a 200,000 year old approach to happiness and health.