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We taste test the polarizing beverage that is kombucha.

“Look for the bottles with bits of ‘mother’ floating in them.” In the realm of friendly advice, having someone tell you this may send you screaming, with creepy thoughts of Norman Bates. That is, unless you know the speaker is just trying to advise you on which type of kombucha to buy.

Called everything from the “elixir of life” to “disgusting,” this muddy tea is polarizing. The “mother” is fermented bacteria and yeast that gives the beverage its fizz. Advocates claim it as a powerful detoxifier, an aid in weight loss and digestion, an energy booster, and even a cancer preventer. Most nutritionists, on the other hand, don’t seem to find much of anything beneficial beyond a few probiotics already found in yogurt.

During a recent staffwide taste test at Milwaukee Magazine, one taster described its appearance as like “the water at the Olympic Village in Sochi.” The taste graded out better overall than the looks: “apple cider-like” and even “refreshing.”

Our advice: Drink it if you like the taste and can look past the appearance. Otherwise, just stick to water.

‘Taste Tested: Kombucha’ appears in Milwaukee Health, a special issue from Milwaukee Magazine.

Find Milwaukee Health on newsstands beginning May 2, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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