New Brunswick

Moncton drinks in Kombucha tea trend

A tea made of fermenting yeast cultures is gaining notoriety in Moncton for its touted health benefits — despite Health Canada's unease.

Health Canada does not support the drink's health claims

Kombucha is a mixture of tea, sugar and yeast culture that has been allowed to ferment for about a week. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

A tea made of fermenting yeast cultures is gaining notoriety in Moncton for its touted health benefits — despite Health Canada's unease with the product.

Kombucha is a mixture of fungus and a liquid mixture of black tea and sugar.

It's often brown, murky and has an unusual taste, like a vinegary carbonated drink, but it's part of the latest health craze in Moncton.

Enthusiasts claim the centuries-old tea aids in digestion, provides an energy boost and can even cure insomnia and fight cancer.

Eric Comeau makes and sells the tea, but said it’s not for everyone.

"A lot of people are a little hesitant to drink Kombucha. It's white, it's very gooey and it floats to the top, actually it looks just like a jellyfish with tentacles hanging. It's very organic," he said.

Comeau grows and sells a variety of sprouts, like broccoli and sunflowers, and added Kombucha tea to his inventory about a year ago.

"I did that mostly because a friend of mine had a culture that she wanted to give away because they do reproduce and traditionally they would be passed on from generation to generation," Comeau said.

Eric Comeau makes kombucha tea. The mother culture will split into smaller parts, which brewers will often give to friends. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

The tea is not without its detractors.

Health Canada said it does not support claims that Kombucha has any health benefits.

Danielle Pellerin, the manager of Corn Crib a health food store that sells bottled Kombucha in New Brunswick, said people are buying the tea anyway despite those objections.

"Even in the last few months, I don't know if it was on Doctor Oz or what is was, but it is quite popular,’ she said.

Spins, a natural food marketing company, said probiotic drinks were a $400 million business in the United States last year.