i have been making kombucha tea for a while now. i really enjoy it and i have made many many batches. each one seems different & i really like experimenting with different lengths of brewing and the many flavors of tea. i had posted on my facebook page that i had a spare SCOBY to share with a friend and had several comments from friends who wanted to know what in the world i was talking about. so i thought i would post here in blogland about how i make my kombucha and the hits & misses i’ve encountered. there is also a large interest in kombucha as far as i can tell. on the travel channel i caught an episode of “Bizarre Foods” yesterday and again this morning there was another show that was showing how to brew kombucha. i am thrilled to see it’s making it’s way through the main stream. if you call being on “Bizarre Foods” main stream
Kombucha has been around for more than 2,000 years and has a long history of preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases. Made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (a SCOBY, a.k.a. “mother” because of its ability to reproduce, or “mushroom” because of its appearance), Kombucha didn’t gain prominence in the West until recently. A friend of mine gave me a SCOBY ( symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast ) a while back. Since then I have purchased another SCOBY and have had a lot of success with them, so much so that i have several jars of “scoby hotels” jars for your spare scobys to hang out until they are needed. I have lovingly named mine Scooby, and I talk to them a lot. They are living things, so i think the personalization helps them produce better tea and produce more SCOBY babies. A healthy SCOBY mother will produce “babies”. They grow another SCOBY that forms on the bottom portion of the original Scoby. My first SCOBY had a couple of larvae on it because I was using a thick piece of cheesecloth instead of a tight woven cotton cloth to cover the batch and a fruit fly got inside. So I learned a valuable lesson there. As for variety, you can use many different types & flavors of tea to make your kombucha. I will admit I was a little bit overwhelmed or felt like I was going to screw up the first couple batches, but it really is simple. Here is the recipe I use from Kombucha Kamp (i also purchased my SCOBY there):
Kombucha Tea Recipe - 1-Gallon
Scale up or down depending on the size of your vessel
- 1 cup sugar
- 4-6 bags tea - for loose leaf, 1 bag of tea = 1 tsp
- Kombucha Starter Culture – SCOBY
- 1 cup starter liquid
- purified/bottled water
- tea kettle
- brewing vessel
- cloth cover
- rubber band
- Boil 4 cups of water.
- Add hot water & tea bags to pot or brewing vessel.
- Steep 5-7 minutes, then remove tea bags.
- Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Fill vessel most of the way with purified water, leaving just 1-2 inches from the top for breathing room with purified cold water.
- Add SCOBY and starter liquid.
- Cover with cloth cover and secure with the rubber band.
- Say a prayer, send good vibes, commune with your culture (optional but recommended).
- Set in a warm location out of direct sunlight (unless vessel is opaque).
- Do not disturb for 7 days.
- After 7 days, or when you are ready to taste your KT, gently insert a straw beneath the SCOBY and take a sip. If too tart, then reduce your brewing cycle next time. If too sweet, allow to brew for a few more days. Continue to taste every day or so until you reach your optimum flavor preference. Your own Kombucha Tea Recipe may vary.
- Decant & flavor (optional).
- Drink as desired! Start off with 4-8oz on an empty stomach in the morning, then with meals to help with digestion or as your body tells you it would like some more! Drink plenty of water as it is a natural detoxifyer and you want to flush the newly released toxins out.
The Golden Rules
- …use a refrigerator stored SCOBY to make Kombucha.
- …use a dehydrated SCOBY to make Kombucha.
- …attempt to grow a SCOBY from a commercial bottle of Kombucha that:
- has been pasteurized
- has been flavored
- has been filtered or reformulated
- says anything less than “100% Kombucha” on the label
- …use a fresh, full-size Kombucha SCOBY to begin brewing.
- …store your SCOBYs in a SCOBY Hotel in a dry and dark place.
- …pass along healthy, fresh SCOBYs with at least 1-2 cups of mature Kombucha Tea and complete, clear instructions to ensure success. If you cannot, recommend a reputable source instead.
In the first half of the 20th century, extensive scientific research was done on Kombucha in Russia and Germany, mostly because of a push to find a cure for rising cancer rates. Russian scientists discovered that entire regions of their vast country were seemingly immune to cancer and hypothesized that the kombucha, called “tea kvass” there, was the cause. So, they began a series of experiments which not only verified the hypothesis, but began to pinpoint exactly what it is within kombucha which was so beneficial.
German scientists picked up on this research and continued it in their own direction. Then, with the onset of the Cold War, research and development started being diverted into other fields. It was only in the 1990s, when Kombucha first came to the U.S., that the West has done any studies on the effects of Kombucha, and those are quite few in number. As is typically the case in the U.S., no major medical studies are being done on Kombucha because no one in the drug industry stands to profit from researching a beverage that the average consumer can make for as little as 50 cents a gallon.
Thanks to it’s rising commercial popularity in the last decade, the older Russian and German research has been made available in English to Westerners, and a few wide-spread anecdotal surveys have been sponsored by Kombucha manufacturers, but that’s about it. While there are limited amounts of research done on the beverage, there has been lots of research done on many of the nutrients and acids it contains in large quantities (such as B-vitamins, antioxidants, and glucaric acids).
Regardless of the “lack” of scientific evidence, the fact remains that this beverage has 2,000 plus years of tradition behind it and an ardent and addicted following.
First, there’s all the benefits of detoxification, such as healthy livers and 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. Kombucha is very high in Glucaric acid, and recent studies have shown that glucaric acid helps prevent cancer. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the recently deceased Russian author and nobel-prize winner, in his autobiography, claimed that kombucha tea cured his stomach cancer during his internment in soviet labor camps. (And because of this testimony, President Reagan used Kombucha to halt the spread of his cancer in 1987.
Next, there’s all the benefits of the glucosamines it contains, such as preventing or treating all forms of arthritis. Glucosamines increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. Hyaluronic acid functions physiologically to aid preservation of cartilage structure and prevent arthritic pain, with relief comparable to NSAIDs. Hyaluronic acid enables connective tissue to bind moisture thousands of times its weight and maintains tissue structure, moisture, lubrication and flexibility and lessens free radical damage, while associated collagen retards and reduces wrinkles.
Then, there’s all the benefits of the fact that it’s a probiotic beverage, such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, and the general health and well-being associated with this. As such, it’s noted for reducing or eliminating the symptoms of fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, etc. It’s extraordinarily anti-oxidant rich, and we have all heard about the benefits of anti-oxidants for boosting our immune system and energy levels.
So how can one beverage do so many things? It’s not so much that the beverage does something to our bodies, like a medicine targeted at curing specific symptoms. It’s more that this beverage promotes health. It gives the body what it needs to heal itself by 1)aiding the liver in removing harmful substances, 2)promoting balance in the digestive system, and 3)being rich in health-promoting vitamins, enzymes, and acids. The general consensus seems to be that with regular, daily consumption, you notice improvement in immune system functioning and energy levels within about a week, the healing of more minor ailments within a month or so, and the healing of more radical illnesses within a year or so.
–many of the facts in this post are from an original article by kristen m at http://www.foodrenegade.com