Kombucha: What it is, how to make it and its health benefits
Kombucha Tea is an ancient healer and powerful antioxidant
The last couple of decades has seen a surge in many ailments that plague us.
Following this surge, there has been an increase in the number and types of foods considered to have health benefits. Many fruits and plants are now popular for their health benefits.
Among them is Kombucha that takes credit for providing immortal health.
It dates back many centuries, originating in parts of China where it is popularly known as the immortal health elixir. It is believed to be healing for the heart and the brain among other health benefits.
There is a lot of unconfirmed controversy surrounding Kombucha. While many believe that it has significant health benefits, others contest it.
What to believe about Kombucha
Since everyone in the world has their opinion on everything, it is hard to separate facts from personal opinions.
Whether to believe those who tramp on the health benefits of Kombucha or believe in the benefits comes down to having as much information as possible.
There is a lot of available information about Kombucha, some of which is false and misleading. It will require you to take some time and read through all information available, sifting through the lies, the truths, and the half truths.
With the right information, you can use Kombucha in the right way.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is also known as mushroom tea and in other regions Manchurian mushroom.
It is a fermented and effervescent black and green tea beverage that has many health benefits.
The drink is sweetened to make it easy for consumption.
Kombucha is a probiotic food that is fast gaining recognition.
Kombucha production involves the use of a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, better known as SCOBY, to ferment tea.
The yeast components in Kombucha always have saccharomyces while the bacteria is mostly gluconacetobacter xylinus for oxidizing alcohols produced from the yeast to make acetic and other acids.
Other species of yeast and bacteria are used depending on the region.
What is in Kombucha?
Kombucha is a probiotic beverage that contains gluconacetobacter, which has the highest presence in the tea, Acetobacter, Lactobacillus, and zygosaccharomyces.
These are the live organisms that make the tea very efficient.
Making kombucha requires organic sugar which you cannot substitute with any other sweetener.
Due to the presence of yeast and the fermentation, kombucha has an alcohol level.
When the tea ferments, there is a high acid concentration, vinegar, enzymes, and vitamins. Cellulose production also happens which is ideal for protecting the cells.
What does kombucha tea taste like?
The taste of kombucha tea is dependent on the fermentation period.
Most people first leave the tea to ferment for about seven days which gives a mild taste. The taste is not very advanced since the fermentation time is short.
This gives the tea an earthy taste.
As the fermentation continues, the taste evolves into a bolder flavor that is vinegar like.
Kombucha tea that is left to ferment for more than seven days up to 30 days tastes bolder and earthier than a batch that brews for a few days.
What are the benefits of kombucha tea?
Kombucha tea has a lot of advantages. Many people use it in different ways to achieve different results. In some parts of the world, kombucha is ideal for pain relief, and people apply it directly to the skin. Others believe that it is perfect for memory loss and PMS.
The tea is great for indigestion when you have a bloated stomach, kombucha tea helps and also removes toxins from the body. It is also used as a weight loss tonic by many as it helps you burn excess fats in the body.
Blood pressure and heart disease are conditions that you can protect yourself from by taking kombucha which reduces your chances of such diseases. The probiotics available in the tea are great bacteria that help your body in many different ways.
Kombucha is however not only safe for humans, but it also helps animals.
When animals drink kombucha tea, their cholesterol and blood sugar levels significantly drop.
These have been found to work in animals, but studies are still ongoing in regards to effects on the human body.
Type 2 diabetes is prevalent and affects countless people in the world. It is a dangerous disease. Regular intake of kombucha can help slow down the digestion of carbs which lowers the sugar levels in your blood. When the tea has very little caffeine levels, it is even more beneficial.
Kombucha tea contains acids like acetic which kill bacteria in the body and on your skin.
When you have a cut or use kombucha on your face, it kills bacteria and nourishes. Kombucha acts as an antibiotic in your body.
Cancer is one of the most devastating diseases that the world is facing right now; it has caused millions of fatalities. Once cancerous cells form in the body, they replicate rapidly spreading to the whole body.
Kombucha helps prevent the spread and replication of these cells because it is high in antioxidants and polyphenols.
The presence of glucosamines in kombucha makes it great for joint health.
Taking kombucha helps increase the amount of hyaluronic acid in your body which lubricates and protects the joints.
When you have joint pains, kombucha tea can help relieve and prevent any further inflammation on the joints.
What are the risks of kombucha?
Just because a drink has so many benefits does not mean that it is completely harmless. Kombucha tea has some risks that any consumer should be wary. Brewing your kombucha at home is possible, but it is also dangerous, especially if you do not do it right.
Making the beverage involves using live bacteria and fermentation, if not done correctly, it could be poisonous posing health risks instead of helping the body.
One of the main risks of drinking poorly prepared kombucha is the formation of mold in the glass which is toxic to your body.
Cases of illness, poisoning and even fatalities resulting from drinking kombucha tea have happened over time.
Some of the risks include liver problems, allergies and excessive acid in the body.
Kombucha tea requires proper storage to ensure that it does not get contaminated.
If you are unsure of the brews safety that you have made, do not drink it to avoid the risk of poisoning from harmful bacteria.
You can buy a trusted blend of the tea if you are not confident in correctly brewing one. Every single container used in the process of making the beverage should be spotlessly clean.
How to make kombucha tea
The process of making kombucha is not very complicated when you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment.
A majority of people fret as soon as SCOBY forms, the bacterial and yeast layer that floats and sinks in the tea.
SCOBY grows as the fermentation period continues.
The bacteria multiply fast and at some stages float, and others sink, many people find this scary, and when they even take a closer look at the slimy disk, they shy away from drinking the tea.
The disc of slimy bacteria and yeast is, however, essential in the process of making great kombucha tea. All the health benefits of the beverage are in SCOBY.
How to make your own kombucha
The first step to making a successful batch of kombucha is gathering everything you need to make it. The first and most crucial ingredient is SCOBY. You can borrow from someone who makes their kombucha or purchase it from stores and online.
Once you have the main ingredient, you can proceed to look for the rest of the things that you need which include:
I. Organic black tea
II. Sugar cane sugar
Once you have all these things together, start the brewing process by:
• Brew the organic black tea and make sure it is very strong, while it boils, add sugar. If you are making a liter of kombucha, add at least 100g of sugar. Let it brew for 30 minutes
• When all the sugar dissolves and the time lapses, remove the tea bags and leave it to cool
• SCOBY comes with a little liquid when you borrow or purchase it. When your brew reaches room temperature, add the SCOBY and the liquid, cover with a clean kitchen towel and store in a dry but warm place.
• Let your kombucha ferment. The fermentation period should be at least seven days, but others leave it for up to 30 days. During day four, pour a little into a cup to check whether it’s ready. During the fermentation period, the color may change which is very normal.
• When you are sure it is ready, put your kombucha into bottles and store in the fridge, leave a little liquid and the SCOBY behind to use some other time and for fermentation to continue.
How to store kombucha
The storage of any food or drinks for consumption is critical.
You need to ensure that there is no risk of contamination. When your kombucha is ready, transfer it into clean containers and have airtight lids on them.
This is to ensure that no bacteria or contaminant can get into the drink making it a health risk.
After putting your kombucha into containers, store in in a cool place like the fridge for preservation.
Since the beverage includes a fermentation process, it is important that you regularly check on it to ensure the taste.
As for the SCOBY and little liquid that you leave behind in a container, seal the container and store it in the refrigerator to use for your next brew.
During this time, the fizziness will continue.
How much kombucha to drink daily?
It is important to remember that kombucha contains a lot of sugar, acids and has an alcohol level.
With these in mind, you should limit your drinking to once or twice a day. You can have kombucha tea in the morning and the evening. Once a day is also sufficient.
Drinking too much kombucha can make you sick which is why the safe recommendation for adults is 16 ounces a day.
Many people have different views on how much you should consume; the important part is to limit the daily intake.
How much alcohol is in kombucha?
Due to the fermentation and the acids produced by kombucha plus the amount of sugar put in, it has an alcohol level.
Many people wonder if the drink will make them drunk before they indulge in it.
Your first batch of kombucha will only have an alcohol level of 5% or below.
This is a very low level that cannot easily make you drunk.
The alcohol level in your second and other kombucha teas will differ since SCOBY continues to ferment over time.
The alcohol level in the beverage could be higher than 5% which can lead to drunkenness.
If you do not properly store your drink, it could result in the increase in the alcohol level.
Any kombucha that exceeds the 5% alcohol level becomes an alcoholic drink which must follow the regulations set by law.
When buying the kombucha, if the level is higher, the bottle should indicate it and should only be sold to adults, 21 years and over.
It is hard to tell the alcohol level in your homemade kombucha, but the first batch is always below 5%.
How to brew kombucha safely
There are risks associated with making kombucha, especially if you brew improperly.
Brewing kombucha should be done meticulously which requires that you know what you are doing and follow all instructions to the letter.
The result from making kombucha can either be a poison which puts you at risk or a good batch of kombucha.
Brewing safely only means that you should be careful and very accurate in everything you do. If you botch your batch, throw it out and start over.
Ensure that the environment and the equipment you use to brew is all clean and free of any unwanted contaminants.
Seal each bottle to prevent the entry of bacteria and store the beverage as required to ensure your drink remains healthy.
How to flavor kombucha tea
The color of your tea changes during the fermentation period and so does the taste.
Due to the active bacteria in the beverage, you could opt to flavor the tea to have a different taste and color to the beverage.
During the process of making kombucha, once you begin transferring into your storage containers, you can add flavoring or opt to drink it without any additive.
There is no limit to the kind of flavor you can do which opens up a world of possibilities for you.
Adding different fruity fusions to give it a fruity taste is one of the ways to make kombucha fun. You can use ginger, lemon, pumpkin and other flavors that you want.
How to reduce the amount of sugar in kombucha tea
The amount of sugar in the tea is a concern for many people.
The sugar makes consumers of kombucha susceptible to diabetes when they continue drinking.
Since kombucha tea requires that you use a lot of organic sugar, many people tend to steer clear of the drink.
You can, however, reduce the amount of sugar in the beverage.
When measuring the ingredients, always ensure that you follow the ratios given without altering them.
Many people fail to make kombucha successfully because they reduce the amount of sugar.
The only way to reduce sugar in your kombucha tea is to let it ferment for a longer time.
The fermentation process eats up the sugar leaving very low and harmless amounts of sugar.
When your kombucha ferments for seven days, the amount of sugar is very high, after 30 days of fermentation, the sugar levels significantly drop.
How to reduce caffeine in kombucha
Black tea is among the main ingredients of kombucha which contain caffeine. Many people have concerns about the presence of caffeine in the tea since it is not very safe.
The caffeine levels in the tea are quite low, lower than those of coffee but people are still cautious.
As the tea ferments, however, the amount of caffeine drops significantly which means that if the kombucha ferments for a long time, it is possible to annihilate the caffeine content.
You can also reduce the amount of caffeine when making kombucha by:
a. Using tea mixtures. Green and white tea have very low caffeine which still works when used together with a little black tea.
b. You can also use herbal teas which are usually caffeine free
How is kombucha tea good for you?
The popularity of kombucha is fast rising, and many people believe in its benefits to their health.
Kombucha has great digestive capabilities since it has fermentation. The drink also helps remove toxins from your body.
Many researchers have delved into studying kombucha to try and understand how it works.
From their findings, kombucha has a lot of helpful, active bacteria that are good for your body.
They help with lactose digestion.
People who take kombucha on a regular basis are found to be very energetic.
It helps reduce fatigue and also works very well for the gut.
Other advantages include improving memory and defending the body against heart and brain diseases.
How long stored kombucha lasts?
Even after packing and storing the kombucha in bottles in the fridge, a slow fermentation continues which makes the taste evolve.
When you have a batch of stored kombucha in bottles, the whole untouched bottles tend to last longer.
Once you open a bottle, the slow expiration of the kombucha begins because of the exposure to many possible contaminants.
The opened bottle can only last weeks which means you should pack in small bottles.
Your mouth has bacteria that when transferred to the bottle contaminate the contents and speed up the expiration.
When you drink kombucha tea directly from the bottle, you speed up the expiration process.
Foods and beverages that have come into direct mouth contact expire faster.
Who should drink kombucha?
Kombucha is a very ancient elixir originating in China, 220BC.
So many people have indulged in this beverage, both for its health benefits and as a great drink.
It is considered a healthy energy drink in many parts of the world that people drink.
Anyone can drink this tea if they are comfortable with the taste.
If you want a good beverage that comes packed with many health benefits, kombucha is the way to go.
Who should stay away from kombucha?
While this tea has very many health benefits, it is important that you remember the risks and what it contains before indulging.
Many scientists have warned people from drinking it for many reasons.
Pregnant and nursing mothers are discouraged from drinking it because it contains some alcohol and also has a lot of acids.
It is not very healthy or safe for mothers and mothers to be to take kombucha.
Mixing kombucha tea with modern or traditional medicine is also discouraged.
If you are sick and need an energy boost, the drink can help you, and it is safe if you are not on any medication. Do not mix kombucha and medication.
Can kids drink kombucha?
The health benefits of kombucha extend to children, which make it a very great drink for children.
It is known to improve the immunity of kids.
The drink, however, contains alcohol and acids which could harm the child.
Alcohol is not safe for children; small amounts could have an enormous impact on the body of a child.
It is therefore not very advisable to give kombucha to kids.
Can recovering alcoholics safely drink kombucha?
This is a preeminent concern because there is alcohol in the beverage.
The continued fermentation of this tea increases the alcohol levels which makes it a concern.
Any recovered or recovering alcoholic should not drink kombucha tea with a high alcohol concentration.
The first kombucha batch that undergoes a seven day fermentation period is safe for alcoholics because the alcohol content is barely noticeable.
After fermentation continues, the alcohol level increases making it a dangerous move for recovering alcoholics to come anywhere near the drink.
Can kombucha be stored in plastic containers?
Using plastic for any foods or drinks is always a health risk.
It is even riskier when you are storing kombucha tea which contains active bacteria.
Glass containers are more advisable when storing your kombucha tea since there is no risk of bacteria eating into the plastic and the plastic bottles releasing harmful contaminants into the beverage.
Why kombucha is dangerous?
Trusting the health benefits of the drink, many people become blind to the dangers that the beverage poses to the human health as well, especially when not properly handled. Many things make this tea a dangerous drink for consumption. They include:
I. The alcohol
Alcohol presence is one of the main concerns among many people. The alcohol makes kombucha dangerous for kids, recovering alcoholics, pregnant and nursing mothers and anyone on medication. Drinking kombucha when you fall on any of the above categories puts you at significant risk.
II. Excessive sugar
The process of making this fermented tea requires the use of organic sugar cane sugar which has a lot of calories and health concerns. You cannot substitute this sugar with any other sweetener which makes the drink contain a lot of sugar. While most of the sugar is eaten up during the fermentation process, a significant amount remains.
III. Candida yeast
If you do not handle your kombucha properly, you run the risk of getting the batch contaminated with candida yeast. Some researchers have found this as the primary contaminant in kombucha which is not healthy for consumption.
Why kombucha requires tea
So many people wonder if it is possible to make this tea without using black or green tea.
The answer is, it needs tea for successful fermentation and effectiveness.
Every batch must contain tea since it is the primary fuel source for SCOBY.
Many people, however, argue that tea is not necessary, but then the fermentation and efficiency of the tea is compromised.
Leaving out tea, which is an essential ingredient when making kombucha means that you only get a sub standard beverage that is not real authentic kombucha.
Why should you drink kombucha tea daily?
The health benefits of this amazing tea are gradual, which means that you need to take it continually to experience these benefits.
When you drink this tea every day, you strengthen your immune system, increase the antioxidants in your body and help your body adapt to the tea.
When you make this fermented tea a daily drink, you soon forget about the joint pain, indigestion, and toxins in your body as it takes care of all that and more.
For increased protection against bacteria and diseases, you need to recharge your body each day.
Where to buy kombucha?
It was much harder to get this tea before it gained popularity. China, Japan, and Russia were among the first regions where it spread too, with its new increased demand, it is available in many parts of the world for people to buy.
Buying this fermented tea from stores is now possible if you do not want to undergo the waiting process for your homemade brew to ferment.
Some people opt to buy the SCOBY disk and ferment their own; these are also available in stores and online.
There are many brands of kombucha that have come up over time; this increases the competitiveness in the market and also opens up kombucha to further research and study.
People can now find all the necessary information on kombucha from manufacturers and researchers.
Are SCOBYs edible?
Many people start to panic, especially when it is your first time making kombucha when they see a slimy disc begin to float on their kombucha.
Questions of whether the disc is normal, have been raised over time.
Formation of the disc is normal and very crucial since it ascertains the successful fermentation of kombucha tea.
If your kombucha does not have the floating whitish layer, then it is not fermenting as it should.
When you are done making the tea, you can either store the disc to use when making more kombucha or eat the SCOBYs.
It is hard for many people to believe that the disc is edible since it looks slimy and gross which makes people shy away from it.
The SCOBY contains active probiotics which are very good for your health.
You can add the SCOBY into your kombucha while you drink to make it easier to swallow.
Other SCOBY uses
SCOBYs have many different purposes, you do not just use them to make this tea and eat them after, you can also use them in various other ways when you have extras, and these include:
a. Adding to smoothies
Any smoothie you make can handle some SCOBYs if you are taking it immediately. If you leave it to sit, it begins to ferment.
Many people who want to start making their bucha face one primary challenge, getting SCOBYs. If you have extras, you can share with newbies.
c. Use as a bandage
Kombucha is believed to be good for pain relief when applied to the skin. You can also use the disc which is very compact as a bandage when you have a cut. The bacteria will help repair your cells fast.
d. Use as a face mask
The probiotics in SCOBYs have endless capabilities including working magic for your face. You can use the disc as a face mask to cleanse your face and expose it to the right bacteria that repair and nourish your body.
e. Animal food
Kombucha is healthy for animals too if you have animals and extra SCOBYs, add them to their daily meals and watch as the animals get nourishment and better health.
Kombucha is an effervescent drink that has many health benefits to the human body as well as animals.
It comes from a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.
The tea is easy to make but comes with many risks if not properly prepared.
Some risks accompany taking contaminated kombucha and excessive intake of the tea.
There is so much information to sift through when it comes to kombucha; many people have their opinions, researchers have their findings and health experts push the benefits of kombucha.
Before indulging in this tea, it is important to understand how it works, how to make it, what SCOBYs are and all the relevant information discussed above.
With this information, you can decide whether to make or buy kombucha and also whether or not to drink it.