What it is: Often erroneously referred to as a mushroom, kombucha is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast that looks like a pancake. To make kombucha tea, this culture is combined with black or green tea and sugar. Over several days, the culture feeds on the sugar, creating a slightly fermented tonic. First documented in China more than 2,000 years ago, kombucha has recently achieved cult status in the United States. Google executive chef Josef Desimone even cultivates his own home brew to serve to the company's employees.
Why it's good for you: Kombucha is purported to do everything from cure the common cold to boost energy levels to sharpen eyesight. Research has yet to prove these benefits, but because it is fermented, we know it works as a probiotic—much like kefir—and aids digestion. According to an analysis conducted by Information Resources LC, a company specializing in kombucha research, it contains glucaric acid (not, as is often claimed, glucuronic acid), which can help the liver detoxify the body.
How to get it: Because home-brewed kombucha may be at higher risk for contamination by unwanted microbes, you may want to stick with tea made by commercial manufacturers. Check out the tasty, flavored tonics from Synergy Kombucha, Kombucha Wonder Drink, or Tea Chi. Or brew a hot mug of Yogi Tea's Green Tea Kombucha or Green Tea Decaf Kombucha.