Looking after your microbiome may not necessarily be top of your self-care to-do list, but 2017 has seen the wellness industry (currently worth around $3.72 trillion worldwide) extol the importance of gut health, and with good reason – it has a surprisingly underrated effect on our overall wellbeing.
With a huge proportion of our immune system located in the gut, it’s no wonder people say good health begins there. It’s also where up to 95% of the body’s serotonin is produced, meaning the impact on the rest of your body is both physical and mental.
Medication, stress and poor diet can all take their toll on your gut. One way to maintain a healthy one could be with probiotics, which are live, healthy bacteria that are intrinsic to a tip-top digestive system. Foods and drinks like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and unpasteurised miso are all good sources of the stuff, but one drink in particular has seen huge market growth: kombucha.
For the uninitiated, kombucha is a fermented tea that originated in the Far East around 2,000 years ago. While everyone in LA has been glugging it since the ‘90s, the past year has seen its popularity in the UK rocket. You can now find entire fridge sections at health food supermarkets dedicated to kombucha; some branches of Planet Organic are even serving it on tap. Made by fermenting black or green tea with a S.C.O.B.Y. (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), it’s a tangy, sour and sweet tonic.
As it’s naturally fermented, kombucha is a great way of upping your probiotic intake, which could help provide benefits such as improved digestion, immune support, mental clarity and mood stability. It’s also a great source of antioxidants and vitamin B12.
While consuming alcohol isn't ever going to be classified as "healthy" (no amount of real fruit, natural sugars or other health food ingredients is going to magically turn your alcohol into a health tonic, no matter what fancy cocktail bars are saying), using kombucha in the cocktails that you're already drinking this Christmas can't hurt, can it? So allow us to introduce you to komsecco – a drink I first discovered at eco-hotel Forsthofalm in the Austrian Alps. Yes, it is exactly what you think: the genius pairing of kombucha with prosecco. Much like prosecco, kombucha is tart, delicately sweet and fizzy, so when combined, the two taste surprisingly excellent.
The sweetness of kombucha can vary so if you’re not familiar with it, sample a few different flavours to find a taste you really like. There’s the unflavoured variety, and others which contain fruit, spices and herbs – everything from ginger to pomegranate, chai and even lavender. When trying out any kind of probiotic for the first time, you might want to build up slowly to allow time for your body to get used to it.
If you want to be really smart about it, opt for an organic prosecco, which is less processed and contains fewer sulphites, meaning your chances of getting a hangover are whittled down. On to the recipe...
100ml kombucha of your choice
Raspberries, to garnish
Raspberries, to garnish
Pour kombucha into a champagne flute. Gently add prosecco and stir. Add one or two raspberries and enjoy!