An ancient health tonic with benefits that will blow your mind
A little over a month ago, my friend Donnadee, gave me a Kombucha scoby and some brewing instructions. My life will never be the same. I am LOVING my kombucha even to the point of writing a song about it.
Apparently, Kombucha tea has been consumed for over 2,000 years. Myth has it that it originated in China, but no one can ever know for certain. It’s a miracle for a few reasons. The Kombucha “mushroom” is called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). It’s the colony of microbes that ferments your tea for you and leaves it chock full of probiotics. How in the world did it come into existence? How did this particular yeast and this particular bacteria find each other, a tannic liquid, and sugar, then ferment and be consumed by a person who then added more of the tannic liquid (tea) and sugar? If it was an accident, that was a mighty brave or desperate person. If you didn’t know what a SCOBY was, you wouldn’t just feel like drinking the liquid surrounding it; it’s a pretty otherworldly looking thing.
According to KombuchaKamp, it can possibly have the following benefits:
*Probiotics – healthy bacteria
*Alkalize the body – balances internal pH
*Detoxify the liver – happy liver = happy mood
*Increase metabolism – rev your internal engine
*Improve digestion – keep your system moving
*Rebuild connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism
*Boost energy – helps with chronic fatigue
*Reduce blood pressure
*Relieve headaches & migraines
*Reduce kidney stones
*High in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer
*High in polyphenols
*Heal excema – can be applied topically to soften the skin
*Speed healing of ulcers – kills h.pylori on contact
*Help clear up candida & yeast infections
*Aid healthy cell regeneration
*Reduce gray hair
*Lower glucose levels – prevents spiking from eating
There is little to no money in it for the FDA to study the stuff. A citizen can make it for about $1.50 per gallon. Most of the studies you can read were done in Russia, Germany, and China.
How to brew Kombucha Tea
- Get hold of a Kombucha mushroom, also known as a SCOBY. If you don’t know any health food pioneers in your area, try Craigslist.org. People seem to charge from $8-30 for a mushroom. I give mine away for free. The more people are drinking Kombucha, the better. Apparently, if you have no other scoby source, you can grow one from the little baby yoursometimes find at the top of commercially bottled kombucha.
- Boil a gallon of water, pour it into a glass or ceramic container and steep 6-8 tea bags in it. So far, I’ve only used decaf green tea, but I understand that some people swear by black tea! I read 5 different recipes, and one said to never use flavored tea, and one said that she only uses flavored tea, so there you go.
- Take out your tea bags after 20 minutes, stir in one cup of white sugar, and let the tea cool to room temperature. There should be a good bit of room at the top of your vessel.
- With very clean hands, place your scoby on top of the tea, and add the 1-2 cups of starter fluid.
- Cover with a clean dish towel, and don’t disturb it for 4 days.
- On the fourth day, take a clean straw, place a finger on one end, place the other end under the edge of the scoby, dip down, place finger on top of the straw, draw it out and taste it. If you like it, bottle it now. If you want more fizz or tang, taste it again tomorrow and the next day. Once you are happy with the taste, bottle it for the second ferment.
- Bottling: Wash your hands well. Place the scoby on a clean plate. You can place any “babies” here too. Pour one cup of the Kombucha from the top of the vessel onto the plate. Cover the plate with another plate, upside down. Filter your Kombucha through a strainer into bottles whatever size you choose. Be sure to save a small bit of liquid from the bottom of the jar to add back to your Kombucha mushroom. Apparently the yeast likes the bottom tea and the bacteria likes the top.
- If you want, leave a little room in your bottles and add frozen fruit and other natural flavorings. Our favorites so far are blueberry/ginger and pineapple. Loosely place the lids on the jars. Wait two more days.
- Drink what you want (although we are cautioned to start small, about 6 oz. per day due to the intense detoxification) and refrigerate the rest. It’s also good to know that there is a little teeny bit of alcohol in kombucha.
- While you’re bottling, boil another gallon of water, pour it into your vessel (I really like my old sun tea jar – you want something with a wide mouth!) and make more tea with a cup of sugar. Once the tea is cool, introduce your scoby, and start all over.
A cup of sugar? Really?
Yes, really. You don’t end up consuming this sugar – the mushroom does. It’s the mushroom’s food while fermenting your tea, very much like beer. And when it’s really good, it’s really carbonated too! Fizzy! Fizzy! Do not use honey. It is an antibacterial.
Now and then, your scoby might fall to the bottom of your tea and a new scoby will appear at the top of your tea. This is a new baby scoby! You can keep it in some Kombucha in your fridge, or you can give it to a friend along with a cup or so of the starter fluid.
Do Scobies go bad?
Apparently they can get mold – but this is very very rare. If it looks like bubble wrap, it’s just new baby scoby. If it looks blue or white and fuzzy like the mold you see on bread, you have to throw your scoby out and start over. If you are not sure – here’s what you do: put your kombucha aside for 2 weeks – you will then know 100% sure if you have mold or not. Also, I’ve heard that you can split scobies in half both ways – by layers and by cutting them in semi-circles with sissors.
Kombucha is yummy
Even the kids love it. If you let it ferment a little too long, it’ll start to taste like apple cider vinegar and you need to take the scoby out and start over. However, you can use the vinegar in salad dressing or to clean your house.
Continuous brewing method
There is another method of brewing that I have just begun to try. You put your tea and scoby into a vessel that has a tap or spigot at the bottom. Once it is ready to drink, you just drink it from the tap and in the evening, replace what you drank with sugared green tea that you are keeping in your fridge. So far so good. It’s extremely fizzy. It looks like beer when I serve it. According to a really great article about continuous brew by the Happy Herbalist, this method contains far more variety of healthy bacteria and acids. It’s just easier too.
This was really just a lark, turned foray into the world of fermented, probiotic, yumminess. It’s really easy to do, and I give the whole experience a 10.