Meet kombucha, your new fermented and fizzy best friend.
Now kombucha is a selfless friend, providing you with an abundance of health benefits without requiring much in return, just a few minutes once a week.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea that is widely consumed for its health benefits. The fermentation process requires a SCOBY, a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” SCOBYs are also sometimes referred to as “mothers” (since they reproduce with each batch of kombucha brewed) or “mushrooms” (because of their appearance).
It is thought that kombucha originated in Asia around 200 BC. It was referred to as the “Remedy for Immortality” or the “Tea of Immortality.”
The health benefits of kombucha
Kombucha contains a significant amount of antioxidants, glucuronic acid, glucon acid, lactic acid, B vitamins, amino acids, and probiotics. These properties give kombucha a wide variety of health benefits:
Probiotics and enzymes work wonders for the gutty-works.
Helps to boost the immune system
Kombucha is very rich in antioxidants, which strengthen the immune system and neutralize free radicals. Plus, 70% of our immune system is in the gut, which kombucha’s probiotics and enzymes greatly assist.
Kombucha’s helpful bacterias and enzymes are necessary for our natural detoxification systems, and it can reduce pancreatic load and prevent your liver from becoming overburdened.
May reduce risk of arthritis
Kombucha contains a high amount of glucosamines, which are necessary for healthy joints. Glucosamines enhance the production of hyaluronic acid, which can help preserve cartilage structure and reduce arthritic pain. It is known that hyaluronic acid provides pain relief that is comparable to NSAIDs. This acid makes it possible for connective tissues in the body to bind great amounts of moisture, and it facilitates the maintenance of healthy tissue structure as well as the lubrication and flexibility of joints.
Kombucha’s detoxifying properties and high concentration of glucaric acid is even believed by some to prevent cancer. In his autobiography, Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote that his stomach cancer was cured by his regular kombucha consumption. After President Ronald Reagan learned of this claim, he began drinking kombucha to prevent his cancer from spreading. The president survived his cancer. Was the kombcha responsible? Who knows.
How to brew kombucha
While kombucha is now widely available at health food stores, a single bottle costs around $3.50 on average! So if you plan to consume komubcha often, this would be quite a large expense.
Fortunately, kombucha is extremely simple to brew at home. All you need is:
- One large glass jar (.5 gallon, 1 gallon, and 2 gallon jars are ideal)
- Black, green, or white tea (click here to see the health benefits of tea)
- Organic, unrefined sugar
- Slightly less than a gallon of filtered water
- A SCOBY*
- 8 oz of starter kombucha** for every 1 gallon of tea
- Cheesecloth or a scrap towel tea towel and a rubber band
- Jars or glass bottles with a rubber stop (really any glass containers that are air-tight)
** If you purchase a SCOBY online, it will likely come in a package with starter kombucha. You may also use a bottle of store-bought kombucha.
While I am going to go through the brewing process using a one-gallon jar, you may simply double the ingredients if using a two-gallon jar and half the ingredients if using a half-gallon jar. (I use a half-gallon jar at home since I am the only kombucha drinker!)
The brewing process is incredibly simple:
- Brew a little less than one gallon of tea (using 5 tea bags or 5 teaspoons of loose tea) and sweeten it adding 5 tablespoons of sugar (the sugar is necessary for the fermentation process; the SCOBY consumes most of the sugar, which in turn does not end up in the final product). Let the tea cool to room temperature, which can take up to 3 hours.
- Sterilize your jar by washing it thoroughly with hot water.
- Pour the 8 oz of starter kombucha into the jar, followed by the sweetened tea (now cooled to room temp). Do not pour the tea to the very top of the jar: leave about 2 inches at the top for the SCOBY and to prevent spillage. Mix the two together.
- Gently place the SCOBY on the top of the mixture (it is fine if it does not lay flat).
- Cover the jar with cheese cloth or a tea towel and secure with a rubber band.
- Place the jar in a cool dry place for a week (I stick mine in the cupboard).
- Periodically check on your kombucha to make sure your SCOBY does not grow any mold. If you see mold, immediately discard everything and start over.
- After a week, remove the SCOBY (which now should be considerably thicker), set 8 oz of the kombucha aside, and pour the remaining kombucha into airtight jars or glass bottles. If you plan to add any spices such as raw ginger, cloves, or cinnamon sticks, or fruit for flavor, now is the time to add it. You can start back at step 1 with a new brew, using the SCOBY and the 8 oz of kombucha you set aside (be sure to sterilize the jar and other materials before starting your next brew).
- Place the jars or bottles of kombucha in a cool dry place again for two more days. This step allows the kombucha to carbonate.
- After two days, place the jars or bottles in the fridge and begin drinking!