Kombucha! Kombucha! I am guessing you have heard this as a hot topic lately. You may have seen it in the shops or a friend’s kitchen! Today we are going to talk about and look into the potential benefits of kombucha and my homemade recipe that’s been taste approved by my family & friends!
First off, what is kombucha?
This drink has been around 2,000 years and was first brewed in China, then took off in Japan and Russia before becoming very popular in Europe.
Kombucha is produced from fermented tea, yeast, sugar and bacteria. Sounds appetising, doesn’t it? This sweet and fizzy drink with a slightly sour taste has got a lot of attention in the health sector and if you master the right brew is tastes rather delicious.
With claims of boosting the immune system, detoxification, weight loss and energy bursts it sounds like a great elixir to provide us with wonderful benefits. There is also talk claiming to help with cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and AIDS. But, does science back this? In short, no. However, let’s break it down.
Potential health benefits of kombucha:
When foods go through a natural fermentation process they gain probiotic properties. Because of the known health benefits of probiotics such as better digestion, a balanced microbiome in the gut and a healthier intestinal flora kombucha may provide probiotic benefits. Probiotics, in general, are said to help inflammatory bowel diseases and irritable bowel syndrome as well as bloating and constipation
For our gut health overall there have been links to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, so not only drinking kombucha but also eating diets that promote a healthy gut should be considered as well as foods that are friendly to our gut also show a reduction in overall inflammation.
Polyphenols in the tea are increased during fermentation and these are antioxidants that can be used in the body. Antioxidants protect cells against free radicals that can cause potential harm such as cancer, heart disease or other autoimmune diseases. These properties are in kombucha and can help towards an antioxidant-rich diet.
Studies also show the B vitamins are present in kombucha and that can have potential health benefits. A study on rats showed benefits to the liver function as well as a protein in the pancreas had with kidney function improvements as well as benefits to diabetes. Because of the limited scientific benefits, an overall healthy diet and lifestyle will improve your entire health rather than focusing on hoping kombucha alone will do the trick.
Things to Note
It is important to note that kombucha does contain a small amount of alcohol usually less than 0.5% meaning it can be sold as a non-alcoholic beverage. It is said kombucha has about one third the caffeine that it began with after fermentation. When looking for an alternative to juices and soda the contents of sugar does show kombucha to be a healthier choice.
The low pH of kombucha also has dentists seeing erosion to the teeth like sucking on lemons and drinking excess soda. After drinking kombucha it is recommended to rinse your mouth with plain water and avoid brushing for 30 minutes as not to spread the acid all over the teeth. It is also beneficial to drink in one sitting rather than continuously consuming throughout the day, thus limiting prolonged exposure to the teeth.
Make your own Kombucha:
Most importantly you will need a SCOBY (which is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) which is added to green or black tea (or in our case, both!)
If you don’t have a friend who can gift you a SCOBY, there are online or in-store for purchase to get started. Or you can search for how to make your own!
Tip: if you get a SCOBY from a friend get some of their batch kombucha or you will need unflavored purchased from a shop.
- 4 L clean water (filtered or spring water works best)
- 1 cup (250g) raw white sugar
- 10 tea bags (our favourite ratio: 5 organic black tea and 5 organic green tea)
- 500 mL unflavored kombucha
- Large glass or ceramic container for fermentation
- Tightly woven cloth for the top
- Rubberbands (to hold cloth in place)
First Fermentation Instructions (with SCOBY):
- Bring boil to water in a clean pot. Remove from the heat and stir in sugar until dissolved.
- Add tea bags and let steep until the water is cooled to room temperature. (The SCOBY can die in hot water.)
- Remove tea bags from room temperature tea and add to your container.
- Add SCOBY to the container with very clean hands or a clean utensil.
- Put the container somewhere that is dark and will be kept at room temperature (no direct sunlight).
- Leave for 6-14 days depending on the temperature and health of SCOBY. Note: The warmer the temperature the faster the brewing.
- Begin tasting around 6 days (use clean ladle or spout if your container has one). It should only be mildly sweet and a little vinegary. [This is the tricky part playing around with your environment and the length of time to brew the best kombucha].
- Depending on how vinegary or sugary you prefer it may take a bit of tweaking to get your favourite taste.
- Place into airtight bottles/jars and repeat the process for brewing more kombucha! Same as step 1 below for the second fermentation before consumption.
When the thickness of the SOCBY is about 2.5 cm or an inch you can gift it to a friend or there are online recipes to make candy!
MAKE YOUR OWN FLAVOR IDEAS:
- Raspberry (my personal favourite)
- Use a strainer and a funnel to ladle or pour in (depending on the size of your container) to air-tight jars/bottles.
- Add sweetener (we make half with lemon and ginger and the other half with raspberry, but this is when you can experiment to find your preference: we found flops with pineapple and mango but maybe you can master that fermentation!).
- Allow second fermenting to continue for a few days.
- Strain the fruit out (usually loses its colour and becomes very mushy).
- Refrigeration slows the carbonation of the kombucha.
Note: sometimes the pressure gets too high and very slowly opening the lid to “burp” them will release pressure.
Although the health benefits have not yet shown strong scientific backing that’s not to say there aren’t potential benefits to drinking kombucha. This recipe can be enjoyed and ultimately tuning into yourself whats best for you and experimenting what works with your own body is different for every individual. Just as science can’t tell me how much I love my family, the planet or pickles it doesn’t mean I don’t know this in my heart! And like everything, enjoy in moderation!
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