What in the world is that? Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) also called mother or mushroom, tea prepared with sugar, and some kombucha tea from a previous batch. Kombucha is a traditional fermented tea that has gained popularity in the United States as it is increasingly associated with health promoting effects. Kombucha is a slightly sweet, acidic tea beverage currently consumed worldwide, but historically in China, Russia, and Germany
The beneficial properties of Kombucha have been well documented in past centuries. Early to mid 20th century, mainly German medical research, documented Kombucha primarily as an intestinal regulator and as having excellent effects on general body functions, but also progressively established specific efficacy in cases of digestive disturbances, constipation, hemorrhoids, kidney stones, gall bladder problems, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, cholesterol, high blood pressure, angina, gout, eczema, arthritis, rheumatism, atherosclerosis, irritability, anxiety, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, tiredness.
By the 1960’s kombucha research fell victim to the cold war, with the Russians withholding details of their research, with many known documents still remaining classified. Regardless of the lack of scientific evidence, the fact remains that this beverage has 2,000 plus years of tradition behind it. Although it may seem new to most of you, kombucha is not at all new, it is truly ancient. In fact the name derives from a Korean physician, Kombu, who was called to treat the Japanese Emperor Inkyo back about the year 415 AD.
The kombucha ferment contains various acidic metabolic by-products, including acetic, citric, malic, tartaric, succinic, pyruvic, ascorbic, butyric , glucuronic, hyaluronic, lactic, usnic and chondroitin sulphate acids, as well as glucosamines, heparin, beta-glucans (cell-wall only), B-vitamins, including B-12, more than a dozen yeast strains and also other active antibiotic substances.
Glucuronic acid in the liver binds up all poisons and toxins both environmental and metabolic and rushes them to the excretory system. Toxins once bound by glucuronic acid cannot be resorbed into the system, they are rendered water soluble and made capable of being passed through the kidneys and eliminated with the urine. Kombucha appears to offer an abundance of this key detoxifier.
Because of our polluted environment, processed food, chemicals in our water, medicines, and stress our liver is overloaded with toxins. A healthy liver producing adequate glucuronic acid is critical to rid toxins that can accumulate. To ensure our liver is healthy and functioning properly, detoxifying the liver is important. Detoxification produces healthy livers and aides cancer prevention. One of kombucha’s greatest health benefits is its ability to detox the body. It is rich in many of the enzymes and bacterial acids your body produces and/or uses to detox your system, thus reducing your pancreatic load and easing the burden on your liver. Even Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the recently deceased Russian author and nobel-prize winner, in his autobiography, claimed that kombucha tea cured his stomach cancer. Because of this testimony, President Reagan used Kombucha to halt the spread of his cancer in 1987.
In my post What Are You Drinking, I cover the importance of good gut flora. Kombucha is also a probiotic beverage that will promote good gut health.
I will be covering water kefir too, but before you start wondering, what is the difference? I’ll say this, when comparing water kefir versus kombucha, it seems that water kefir acts primarily as a wide spectrum probiotic, whereas kombucha acts as a digestive aid, a probiotic and detoxifier.
How to ferment Kombucha tea:
I make a 1/2 gallon, but this can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc
You will need:
1/2 gallon glass jar
4 tea bags-The type of tea used to brew kombucha is one of the most important influences in how the finished kombucha will taste. However, not all teas are appropriate for use when making kombucha. Click here to read more about which teas are best to use for the health of the a scoby
1/2 cup sugar (this is a good place to use the white stuff and the only place I recommend using it).
Water-While tap water can be used, it is recommendeed that filtered water free of as many contaminants as possible is used. Contaminants such as chlorine, chloramines, and fluoride can be detrimental to a batch of kombucha and the health of the scoby.
SCOBY along with 1 cup of kombucha tea from a prevous batch
Put sugar and tea bags into the jar. Fill a third of the way up with boiling water.
Brew tea 10-15 minutes.
Remove tea bags and be sure sugar is dissolved.
Add cold water to jar until it is 3/4 of the way full.
Add your SCOBY and kombucha tea from previous batch
Add more cold water if needed to fill jar.
Cover with a breathable cover (cheesecloth, coffee filter, towel)
Place jar in a spot out of direct sunlight, at room temperature, and several feet away from any other cultures you may have going. Now, forget about it for 7 days. As the kombucha ferments, the scoby consumes the tea and sugar producing vitamins, minerals, enzymes, carbon dioxide, etc. After 7 days using a straw sample your kombucha tea. If it is still too sweet,, allow it to ferment couple more days or until it gets to a flavor you like.
Remove the SCOBYs-You will have two, because there is a baby every batch. You can use both in your next batch, give one to a friend, or search the internet for other ideas. Never use reactive metals when handling your SCOBY.
Bottling your kombucha tea-Whether you’re keeping your kombucha plain or flavoring with juice, fruit(fresh, frozen, or dehydrated), extracts, or herbs a second ferment is recommended. A second fermentation period allows the flavors to meld and achieve a deeper and more complex flavor. When bottled in an airtight container, the live yeast and bacteria in the kombucha will continue to consume the tea and sugar that remaines, and a byproduct of second fermentation is that the sugar is turned into carbon dioxide giving the kombucha the fizzy texture it is often known for. Allow the kombucha to remain bottled for 2 to 14 days at room temperature. Cultures for Health is a great resources for all things fermented and has several flaovoring ideas.
This batch I used frozen blueberries. 1/4 berries to 2 cups Kombucha….YUM!
More science of kombucha check out the Happy Herbalist posted study from Cornell University.
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