Kombucha is a beverage made from fermented tea. The brew has many health benefits, tastes delicious, and is easy and inexpensive to make at home.
A living culture is added to freshly brewed, sweetened tea, which is then allowed to age for about a week.
You can order the culture, called a "mother," or a starter, or the "scoby, (which stands for "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast") off the Web from companies that sell it. Or you can obtain one from someone who makes Kombucha, either for a price or sometimes for free.
If you can make tea, you can make Kombucha. It is not difficult or expensive and only requires equipment every kitchen has.
The US Food and Drug Administration has stated that Kombucha is safe to prepare at home and drink as long as it is prepared with clean utensils and clean hands. Food spoilage is a possibility with all foods, but Kombucha, because it contains some alcohol, has a low chance of spoilage. Spoilage is easy to detect.
The culture is often misleadingly referred to as a mushroom because it resembles the cap of a large mushroom. It is not a member of the mushroom family. It is a spongy membrane of helpful yeast and beneficial bacteria.
Each batch of Kombucha is made by transferring the culture from a previous batch to a fresh quantity of sweetened tea. The bacteria and yeasts from the previous batch begin to ferment the new batch of tea, converting it into Kombucha.
Because of the living enzymes and nutrients present in every batch of Kombucha, people have reported the following health benefits from regularly drinking this beverage: lowered blood pressure, improved sleep, increased energy, relief from menstrual discomfort, better digestion, stabilized blood sugar levels, fewer colds, help with arthritic pain, improved memory, and other health benefits.
The usual daily amount for healthy individuals is 8 ounces, but many people drink up to three times that amount daily. It's best to start with a small amount for the first few days to see how you react to its detoxifying effects.
If you have a weakened immune system or other pre-existing medical problem, you should consult your physician before starting a Kombucha regime, and very gradually introduce small amounts of Kombucha. Opinions vary whether it should be part of the diet of children, breast-feeding mothers, and pregnant women.
Kombucha may be drunk any time during the day, but works best if it is spread through the day.
The sugar used to make Kombucha is digested and converted into beneficial enzymes and nutrients by the Kombucha culture. As it ferments, the caffeine level decreases. Kombucha can be made with decaffinated teas for people monitoring caffeine consumption. You can also steep regular tea for 5 minutes, discard the water, and use the second steeping for a decaffinated tea, because caffeine is water soluble and most of it will be leached out in the first steeping.
Fermented foods introduce helpful bacteria into the digestive system. Like other fermented foods, such as yogurt, miso, tempeh, kefir, and some cheeses, Kombucha delivers probiotics. Probiotics are living organisms that are known to improve digestion, build a stronger immune system, and improve general health. They are used to treat and prevent vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections, reduce bladder cancer recurrence, and prevent and treat eczema in children
Kombucha does contain between .5% and 1% alcohol. For this reason, people find it mildly relaxing. Many people report reduced cravings for alcohol when regularly consuming Kombucha.
Some alcoholics in recovery have found it helpful to drink Kombucha during their recovery period. But Kombucha does contain a small quantity of alcohol, which can increase to 1.5% as it ages beyond 10 days, and any recovering alcoholic knows that even a small quantity of alcohol can have a negative effect. It's an individual call.
Diabetic individuals will often brew Kombucha with lower sugar content. Most of the sugar in a Kombucha formula is converted into other components during the fermentation process, but some still remains as sugar in the finished tea. The diabetic needs to keep this in mind when preparing his diet, and monitor blood sugar levels. Sweetening the tea with agave nectar may be a better choice than using white sugar.
After the initial fermentation period of about a week, Kombucha will continue to ferment at temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees. It will eventually turn too sour to drink. To stop fermentation, the tea must be refrigerated. In the refrigerator, at 40 degrees, it will keep for a month or even two, but gradually loses effervescence.
Some people report immediate health benefits, such as relief from acid reflux, stress, or allergies. For most people, it can take up to three months to see changes in well-being. The effects Kombucha has on the body are largely due to detoxifying and changing the body's pH. Since these changes are gradual, you will notice gradual health improvements.
Kombucha tastes delicious! It's usually compared to cider or light wine. It has a refreshing sweet and sour flavor. A new batch will be very slightly bubbly, and the effervescence can increase when it is bottled and sealed with a raisin or other piece of fruit, and refrigerated. You can add different ingredients like herbal teas, ginger, or juices to the finished brew to make it have specific medicinal qualities, or to add new flavors. Heating the drink will destroy beneficial enzymes.