Kombucha is a fermented tea that the Chinese referred to as the “immortal health elixir.” Kombucha can be found in health food stores and natural food stores such as Whole Foods, but if you want to drink this fermented elixir everyday it can get incredibly pricey. I started off drinking Kombucha every now and then when I would go to our local natural foods store. I would purchase a small bottle of the wonder drink and sip away.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I seemed to have increased concentration and more energy every time I drank some Kombucha, so I wanted to add it to my diet. This proved to be a very expensive habit for our family, so we began looking for alternatives. My husband researched making our own Kombucha and it seemed surprisingly easy. Now, months later, we enjoy Kombucha every day and always have a batch brewing.
What are the health benefits of Kombucha?
The benefits, like most other natural health remedies, have not been endorsed by the medical community because of the lack of studies done to substantiate the medical claims. However, Asian countries and societies have been drinking Kombucha for hundreds of years and tout the medical benefits greatly. For those who are skeptical let’s take a look at a few things.
First, fermented foods such as kimchi and sourdough breads have long been used for their beneficial properties. Fermented foods are live foods. They can contain beneficial bacteria that are good for the gut flora as well as the added benefit of vitamin production during the fermentation period.
Kombucha is no different. It is a fermented tea that contains live bacteria and vitamin content that is beneficial to the stomach. It also has concentrated acids that can help clear out the stomach and intestines.
There is a great post on some studies done on rodents in regards to Kombucha on the ZocDoc blog.
What are the risks of Kombucha?
There have been a few cases of individuals getting ill when drinking Kombucha. These cases typically stem from one of two things: contaminated production or drinking too much. Too much of a good thing isn’t always good. Kombucha is designed to be consumed like an elixir. You will want to start with only a few ounces per day and the slowly move up to a glass each day. Individuals who became ill from drinking Kombucha were drinking upwards of a QUART a day. This is too much of any live bacteria and can cause stomach upset.
The other issue can come from poor preparation. Never make your Kombucha in a ceramic pot or jar. Anything that could potentially have lead in the container should be avoided. The lead can leach into the food and cause major problems. In fact, I would suggest staying away from pots or jars that contain lead regardless of what you are preparing.
How do you make your own Kombucha?
Kombucha is super easy to make and honestly a really fun process. You will need the following:
- 4-5 Organic Tea Bags (White, Green, or Black tea)
- 1 cup of sugar (organic cane preferred)
- A SCOBY (see below)
- A Starter (see below)
- 3 quarts of water
- Large glass jar
- Cheesecloth (or thin cloth or similar)
- Rubber band
What is a SCOBY and the starter?
This is simply the bacteria used to get the concoction fermenting. The SCOBY can be purchased in a starter kit online, or you can do it the really easy way like we did. Simply go to the store and purchase a bottle of Kombucha. You will see the SCOBY on the top of the drink. It is a sort of “film” layer at the top of the drink. This is your bacteria. When you are ready to add the SCOBY and starter just pour the bottle into the mixture and it will replicate. BE SURE TO PURCHASE ONE WITH A SCOBY INTACT. Most will have them, just look for a film on the top of the drink.
Boil the water and pour it into the glass jar. Then add in the tea bags and let it set for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve. Next you will want to allow the tea to cool to room temperature. This will take approximately 2 hours.
Next add your SCOBY and starter to the mixture and cover with the cheese cloth and a rubber band to hold it shut. Place in a dark and cool environment for 7-14 (we keep ours under our cabinet in our kitchen). You’re done! Just pour and enjoy.
Do you add any fermented foods to your diet?