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05/31/2012

Healthy yoga drink kombucha goes mainstream



It's not just a beverage loved by health-food fanatics and yoga enthusiasts, kombucha has entered the mainstream.

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the fermented tea that features a culture colony of bacteria and yeast is now found on shelves at Williams-Sonoma and Whole Foods.

Montreal’s Rise Kombucha is stocked in IGA and Metro stores.Ethical Soda Co.'s blackberry, lavender, raspberry and hibiscus-flavoured kombucha teas can be served with meals as a non-alcoholic alternative to wine.

Tonica Kombucha, another brand, is marketed as a naturally sparkling, organic alternative to soft drink.

People who drink kombucha, which in its unflavoured state has a vinegary and pungent taste, swear that it energizes and aids in digestion and has probiotic and antioxidant properties.


Although the kombucha is just beginning to catch on in Canada, it is already a popular beverage in the U.S.According to SPINS, a market research and consulting firm for the natural products industry, sales for the category of functional drinks that includes kombucha were $400-million U.S. in the past year with celebritites like Madonna shown drinking kombucha.

Some of the attention on the drink has been negative however. In 2010, U.S. authorities warned retailers that kombucha makers could be breaking the law if their products exceeded alcohol levels of 0.5 per cent(trace amounts of alcohol in bottled kombucha, produced by fermentation can be detected), that led to some stores pulling the product.

Not all kombucha beverages available in Canada are licensed to be promoted as health products, according to the Globe article.

Health experts say it’s hard to say just how beneficial kombucha drinks are to one’s health and it shouldn't be seen as a magicliqueur.