The food you eat every day invariably contributes to your overall health, but most times, you forget that drinks have a greater impact on your body, too. For instance, alcohols, high-preservative beverages, and sugary drinks, all negatively impact your health.
But there is a tea or beverage group that is profoundly nutritious and healthy, which some consider being a real-life elixir.
What is an elixir by the way?
Unlike in the movies or video games that often time portray elixirs as some magical potions, an elixir is actually a sweet liquid of high potency that is used for medicinal purposes, such as a spice or herb that is used for an anti-inflammatory, digestive-supportive, and cleansing purpose.
The most prominent elixir that you can get at any health-food store is none other than kombucha.
What is Kombucha?
Whether you call it mushroom tea, the elixir of life, of even green tonic, kombucha has become one of the hottest health beverage with so many health benefits among, which are the following:
Kombucha has been around for many centuries but recently became popular in the US as a result of its claimed health benefits.
You may ask, “What is kombucha by the way?”
Kombucha is a drink made from both bacteria and yeast that grow on top of the beverage called “SCOBY” (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) which resembles a mushroom. SCOBY is the leathery pancake-like blob that is a mother culture required to produce kombucha tea.
So, kombucha is made by mixing bacteria, yeast, black or green tea, and sugar together and allowing this combination brew to ferment.
The taste of kombucha tea is not pleasing to the taste buds as it tastes somewhat tart and earthy with a little effervescence and smell of vinegar. Nevertheless, it is an acquired taste, yet most drinkers of this tea make the drink palatable by adding juice to the base brew.
This fermented drink contains a high amount of acids and moderate quantities of sugar, vinegar, antioxidants, B vitamins, and marginal traces of alcohol as well as other chemical compounds.
Make Kombucha at Home?
Most frequent kombucha drinkers buy them from the store.
But can kombucha be brewed or produced at home? The answer is an affirmative “yes!”
Homemade varieties can be produced either by buying the kombucha mothers starter or by using the starter sample from an already-made culture to grow a new colony of yeast and bacteria that brews or ferments in a jar within 7 to 14 days. Most home brands are taken raw (unpasteurized) while some other brands are pasteurized to destroy possible pathogens.
If you really want to drink kombucha tea, the safest way to do so is to opt for the one that is personally prepared from the SCOBY yourself.
The reason why it’s best to produce kombucha tea from the SCOBY is that the likelihood of breeding pathogens in the process is completely eliminated.
Kombucha Side Effects
Before you go on to prepare a home-brewed kombucha, it is vital to read and digest the advice from health experts.
Some nutritionists have warned about the negative effects of homemade and unpasteurized kombucha tea prepared in an unsterilized condition. They insist that such a tea has risk of contamination from unhealthy bacteria. Apart from this caveat, there have been several reports of the negative effects of drinking kombucha tea such as harmful reactions, stomach upset, and build-up of excessive acid in the body.
This prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to warn that home-brewed kombucha stands the high risk of being contaminated by bacteria, especially if prepared under dirty environment. Little wonder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked a report of a woman suffering from metabolic acidosis to kombucha.
Unpasteurized kombucha in the form of over-fermented fruit has the ability to ferment in the bottle, raising the fermentation to alcohol level that is of beer – except it is refrigerated. Therefore, pasteurizing the tea makes it less harmful, safer, and reduces the chances of increasing alcohol levels. Despite this fact, most enthusiasts of kombucha prefer the raw, unpasteurized tea beverage.
The truth is that pasteurization gets rid of all the enzymes that make kombucha useful and beneficial, so never buy pasteurized kombucha and do not pasteurize your own. Drink it raw, at unpasteurized state.
How to Brew Kombucha
Although the steps required to produce kombucha are a bit long and complicated, the steps described here have been simplified to be straightforward.
– One cup of granulated sugar
– Two cups of starter tea from store-bought kombucha (unpasteurized and natural)
– Eight bags of black tea, green tea or a mixture of both
– One SCOBY per fermentation jar
– Three and a half quarts of water
– Small funnel
– One gallon of glass jar or two-quart glass jars
– Tight woven cloth to cover the jar
– Bottles: six swing-top bottles, clean soda bottles, or six 16-oz glass bottles.
1. Prepare the tea base – Boil the water in the pot, add the sugar and stir vigorously. Put the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. This will take a few hours based on the size of pot you are using.
2. Stir in the starter tea – Immediately upon the tea cooling, remove the tea bags and add the starter tea. The starter tea helps to prevent the growth of unfriendly bacteria in the first few days of fermentation by making the medium acidic.
3. Transfer the mixture into jars and add SCOBY – Pour the mixture into a one glass jar or divide the mixture between two quarts jars in which case you will get two SCOBY. Carefully turn the SCOBY into the jar and cover the mouth of the jar with some layers of tightly woven cloth holding it with a rubber band.
4. Ferment for up to 10 days – Ferment the kombucha for ten days and fourteen days maximum, with periodical checking of both SCOBY and kombucha. Make sure that the jar is not jostled, keep it at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
Hint: Observe the process carefully, you will see the SCOBY floating at the bottom, top, and sideways of the jar during fermentation. Evidently, a new layer of SCOBY of cream coloration will start to form on the kombucha within some days. Also, you may witness brown string-like bits floating under the SCOBY with sediments collecting at the base of the jar and bubbles building around the SCOBY. Do not get fidget, these are signs of a healthy fermentation process.
5. Begin tasting – When the fermentation has lasted for seven days, you can begin tasting of the kombucha by pouring a little quantity out of the jar into a cup on a daily basis. The kombucha is ready only when it attains the balance of tartness and sweetness that is pleasing and stimulating to the taste buds.
6. Remove the SCOBY and bottle the finished product – With clean hands, carefully remove the SCOBY out of the kombucha and put it on a clean plate, ready for the next batch as outlined in the following steps above. Pour the fermented kombucha into bottles using the small funnel together with any juice, fruit, or herb you may need as flavor.
7. Carbonate and refrigerate it – Place the bottle at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow the kombucha to stay for a maximum of three days for carbonation to take place. When the bottles feel very strong like a solid rock, it means the kombucha has carbonated. Put the bottles in a refrigerator to stop carbonation and fermentation, and drink the kombucha within a month.
3 Final Kombucha Questions
– Where to buy SCOBY for kombucha?
You can personally make your own SCOBY by purchasing it online (such as Amazon, Kombucha Kamp, Kombucha Home, Walmart, etc.) or from any other food store around for this purpose. Or you can easily source it from a friend who has been making kombucha for a while. Also, you can buy plain kombucha and grow SCOBY from it by following steps outlined below.
– How to grow your own kombucha SCOBY?
1. It is simple. Just mix one cup of black or green tea together with one tablespoon of granulated sugar and 16 oz. of plain kombucha and pour the mixture into a glass jar. Cover the jar with a tightly woven cloth secured with a rubber band.
2. Ferment it at a warm temperature for a period of seven days out of direct sunlight. After a week, you will see a baby SCOBY developing across the surface of the liquid. Leave it to stay for four weeks and it will grow you a new SCOBY.
– How often should you drink kombucha?
Drinking 4 ounces of kombucha tea per day is generally safe for healthy folks. But, it would be a wise decision for the elderly, children, and pregnant women to avoid it especially for those who have an unstable immune system.