Food Nation

Kombucha Comeback

For those experiencing withdrawal over the last six months from the kombucha crisis of 2010, you can now rest easy in knowing that it's back. The fermented probiotic beverage was abruptly pulled from supermarket shelves across the country last June after Lindsay Lohan's SCRAM ankle bracelet, which detects alcohol levels through sweat, went off during the MTV VMA's ceremony. She reported to authorities that her alcohol levels were heightened due to kombucha, prompting the nationwide recall. Kombucha drinks, which can legally contain up to 0.5 percent alcohol levels, were suspected by Whole Foods of containing higher levels and thereby spawning the temporary ban, to the dismay of many.

The ban caused an uproar among the drink's growing cult-like following, who, no doubt questioned Lohan's credibility. Kombucha is a colony of yeast and bacteria, and the tea is a mildly alcoholic bi-product of fermentation with green or black tea and sugar. While currently researched for its official medical benefits, this elixir has been consumed for hundreds of years for the healing properties derived from its enzymes, amino acids, probiotics and antioxidants.

After much publicity from its removal in June, I'm a little bit shocked to witness a relatively lackluster return. Honest Tea Kombucha led the way, sneaking back to the shelves in mid-October, and the during the last few weeks, several other brands of the tonic have followed suit. Why, after, such a loud public out-cry last summer, would the comeback be so subdued?

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Nancy Kerschen