My first run in with kombucha was 9 years ago. I had no idea what it was and that first sip was almost spat back out. I eventually finished it because it cost so much. If you have not given it a try yet, it can range in taste but is described as a fizzy vinegary cider or beer taste. I hate beer and not huge on vinegar flavor so there you go. Fast forward present day as I sip on a morning 4 oz. of my home brewed batches with a taste I enjoy. As with everything healthful nutrition related, I research soaking in knowledge and then see if it would work for me. I was fortunate to have a friend gift me the means and information to get started brewing my own and I haven't looked back. *Before I get into the benefits and reasons I have added "da booch" as a part of my health protocols, I need to let you know that there is not a lot of solid research done that support health claims.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a drink that is made from tea, sugar, and a starter culture called a scoby which is the acronym for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The bacteria is a living thing just like it is in our bodies so I like the idea that I have a slimy pet living in my cupboard. It eats the sugar that you give it so that by the time the final drink is done, it will have low sugar content. I brew a large pot by heating 1-2 gallons of filtered water until it is warm enough to brew tea but not boiling. Throw in 10-12 black or green tea bags. About 5 minutes later pour in approximately 1.5 cups of sugar. Once it cools to room temperature pour into a glass jar with a cup of Kombucha from the previous batch that is left which is referred to as starter tea. The scoby is left sitting in this jar as well. I give it a quick stir then put on my little pet's bonnet on by securing a paper towel over the top of the jar so it can breathe. I have named mine E.T. If no air were able to get in, it would get moldy and need to be thrown out. I let my daughter pet E.T. sometimes and show it off to friends but, hands must be cleaned. It needs a sterile environment like any food source. It will brew a minimum of a week for a less acidic and sweeter flavor or up to 1 month. I usually go 10-14 days before I harvest. Harvest by pouring into separate glass jars and storing in the refrigerator. I drink as is or throw in a few frozen berries that impart their flavor and add fizz. You can flavor with herbs as well although that's not my cup of tea ;) The whole process is extremely simple and costs very little saving you a lot of money over time.
Benefits As previously stated, there are a lot of health claims and as we are all designed with different bodies, the results will vary individually. I use it mainly for the probiotics it produces. I don't do fermented dairy such a yogurt and kefir so this is a great alternative for my gut health which is super important in overall health. I took medication for 10 years for IBS and need to always support my microbiome lest that poor digestion takes over. I finally got off the meds and improved everything through the supplements I take. If you are interested in them, you can find a free assessment here. I recently listened to a podcast with the latest research on probiotics and they are finding that the actual fermentation process that creates the probiotics are much more effective than the extracted probiotics. This means eating or drinking the sources of the probiotics are crucial to maintaining or repairing gut health. This can help keep you regular, improve digestion, and boost your immunity. Kombucha also contains phytochemicals or phytonutrients that have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Buyer Beware Look out for added sugar if you are buying your drink. Aim for 5 grams or less per serving. Also, note the serving size and drink only that amount per day or even half that to start. There have been individuals who have allergic reactions. It usually will contain some caffeine and that amount varies as well so if you are sensitive, skip the drink or go for low caffeine and drink a small amount. It contains lactic acid which can build up in the bloodstream and cause major issues if you're chugging a lot of bottles each day. Any health risks are slim but, just like most good things in life, more is not always better.
Comment on this post if you have questions about how to get started brewing. If you do brew send me a picture of your slimy pet!