Archive for Kombucha

Kombucha

Kombucha is a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with the kombucha culture. The result can taste like something between sparkling apple cider and champagne, and can take on a slight vinegar taste depending on what kind of tea you use and how long you ferment it.  One thing is for sure…it is probably not what you would imagine fermented tea to taste like and it can definately be an acquired taste.

During the fermentation process, the Kombucha culture looks like a beige or white rubbery pancake or mushroom. It is referred to as a ‘scoby’ which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts.  The culture is placed in sweetened black or green tea, kept at approximately 72 – 80 degrees Farenheit, and turns a container full of sweet tea into a bowl full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and health-giving organic acids in about 1 to 2 weeks.

As the Kombucha culture digests the sugar it produces a range of organic acids like glucuronic acid, gluconic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, malic acid and usnic acid; vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as amino acids and enzymes.  In addition, there are numerous benefits from all of the of the probiotic microorganisms themselves.  The Kombucha culture is a biochemical powerhouse in your kitchen.

You might wonder if fermenting tea with yeasts would produce an alcoholic beverage.  In fact, they do produce alcohol but the bacteria in the culture turn the alcohol to organic acids. Only very small quantities of alcohol remain, typically 1% or less by volume remains in the kombucha brew.

With every brew you make, the kombucha forms a new layer or scoby on the surface of the liquid. These can be left to thicken the scoby or can be divided, giving you spare cultures that you can store in some sweet tea in the fridge in case something should happen to your active culture. Or you might want to pass on spare Kombucha cultures to friends or use a new scoby to start another batch of kombucha.

Many health claims are made for kombucha but there is very little formal research on its benefits. It has certainly been shown to have good antibiotic, antiviral and anti fungal properties in lab tests.  In tests it has also been shown to protect against stress and improve liver function. There is a lot of experiential evidence from people who have been using kombucha over many years. Many of the benefits reported include improvements in energy levels, metabolic disorders, allergies, cancer, digestive problems, candidiasis, hypertension, HIV, chronic fatigue and arthritis.