Making your own kombucha is easier than you might think. And if you follow the simple steps as outlined below, your new kitchen project will be so rewarding. This is because home-made kombucha is first of all very healthy. Secondly, you can make it at a fraction of the cost of buying it from your local grocer or health store, and lastly, it is really simple to make, requiring only 20 minutes of your time every 10 – 14 days. The result? A 100% raw, delicious and jam-packed probiotic powerhouse soda. How cool is that?
We lived in the United States for 2 years and one thing is certain: I became addicted to this delicious health drink called kombucha. I liked it so much that it became one of my love languages. (Buy me a bottle of kombucha, then I'll know that you really love me…) When we arrived back in South Africa, the fact dawned upon me that it is not as readily available here as in the US. And if you are lucky enough to find it, it is pretty expensive. So the search was on to make my own homebrew 'bucha'!
WHAT IS KOMBUCHA?
Kombucha is a fermented beverage of black tea and sugar. It contains a colony of bacteria and yeast (called a “SCOBY” that looks like a slippery pancake). The SCOBY is responsible for initiating the fermentation process once it is combined with sugar. After being fermented, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of healthy acids (acetic, gluconic and lactic). Some of the main benefits include: improved digestion, weight loss, increased energy and immune support.
Although it’s usually made with black tea, kombucha can also be made with green tea. Please note that kombucha can not be made with herbal tea or any tea that contains an oil, such as Earl Grey. One of the things I really like about kombucha is that you can flavour it. Furthermore, it is a wonderful and healthy fizzy drink.
The SCOBY is the essential ingredient when you make kombucha. After fermenting for about 1 – 3 weeks (depending on the temperature of the environment), you will end up with a vinegar / champagne-like bubbly health soda. Higher room temperatures will speed up the fermentation process.
You can buy the SCOBY online or at some health food stores. The SCOBY duplicates every time you make kombucha, so there is a chance that you might even get a SCOBY from a friend who is also passionate about kombucha. Because the SCOBY duplicates itself, you will quickly have a lot of SCOBIES. If you were like me, you would like to make as much kombucha as possible, but you can also make a SCOBY 'hotel' by putting your SCOBIES in a glass jar filled with enough kombucha to cover all the SCOBIES. You can simply put the SCOBIES on top of each other and keep them in the glass jar until they are ready to use.
WHAT ABOUT THE SUGAR IN THE KOMBUCHA?
I was shocked when I discovered that one of the main ingredients in kombucha is sugar. I am extremely health conscious and try to never consume refined sugar. My initial idea was to use more natural sources of sugar such as raw honey, 100% maple syrup or even stevia. But I quickly found out (after doing some research) that the SCOBY does not thrive (or might even not survive) if you use other sweeteners besides sugar. But just because you need sugar to brew kombucha does not mean that YOU will be consuming sugar. The sugar is only food for the SCOBY. Through the fermentation process, the SCOBY turns all (or most of the sugar) into a delicious mixture of probiotics, B-vitamins, enzymes and organic acids (that are great for weight loss). The longer the tea ferments, the less sugar it contains.
There are a few types of sugar you can use for feeding the SCOBY, but cane sugar is the most recommended by seasoned brewers. I use organic raw cane sugar and it works very well.
KOMBUCHA FERMENTS. DOES IT CONTAIN ALCOHOL?
Booze will be produced whenever you ferment anything sweet with yeast – that is part of nature. However, depending on how long it ferments, kombucha generally does not contain a lot of alcohol. The end product will have anything from 0,5% to 1% alcohol by volume.
MY FAVORITE PART - THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF KOMBUCHA
Kombucha is a cocktail of good bacteria that interacts in a unique way to produce unbelievable health benefits. I can honestly say that every time I drink kombucha, I can feel life and health filling my body. Be warned, if you start drinking kombucha, you will most probably like to do it for a lifetime because it gives you so much joy. But enough about how it makes me feel. What do the lab tests and experts say about this health elixir?
7 BENEFITS OF DRINKING KOMBUCHA
1. Improved Digestion
Kombucha is a probiotic drink that supports the healthy bacteria in your gut and improves your digestion dramatically. Because kombucha contains a high level of enzymes, it not only promotes healthy digestion, but also helps with nutrient assimilation. An article published in the journal, Food Microbiology, established that the following probiotics are present in kombucha:
• Gluconacetobacter (>85 percent in most samples)
• Acetobacter (<2 percent)
• Lactobacillus (up to 30 percent in some samples)
• Zygosaccharomyces (>95 percent)
2. Weight Loss
Kombucha is incredibly nutrient rich and is relatively low in calories compared to other sodas. I will not recommend it as a meal replacement, but after consuming kombucha, I feel quite full, which in turn helps me to eat less.
Another exciting weight loss benefit of kombucha is the powerful acids that it contains. The glucuronic acid that is present in kombucha is a great liver cleanser. You might ask, what does a clean and healthy liver have to do with weight loss? Quite a lot. In a nutshell: your liver is your fat burning organ. If it is tired and toxic, who will burn the fat in your body? That is why the acids that are present in kombucha are playing such an important role in your body and weight. The malic acid also detoxifies the liver, while usnic acid protects against viruses through its antibiotic properties. Acetic acid inhibits the action of harmful bacteria. Therefore, you cannot go wrong when consuming kombucha on a daily basis if health is a priority for you.
3. Increased Energy
Drinking kombucha has an energizing effect on your body and many people report having success in being relieved from symptoms of chronic fatigue and other conditions such as allergies, metabolic disorders and hypertension, which can influence your energy levels.
4. Cleansing and Detoxification
The acids in kombucha have powerful body cleansing and detoxifying properties.
5. Immune Support
As mentioned, kombucha improves liver function and also reduces oxidative stress in the body. After doing lab tests, kombucha has also been shown to have antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
6. Reduced Joint Pain
Many people reported that symptoms of arthritis relief by drinking kombucha.
7. Cancer Prevention
Kombucha helps to keep your cells healthy and keep your overall body in a healthy state. However, please note that your body is so delicately put together and there are many factors that contribute to cancer and also many things you can do (such as looking after your body by exercising and eating healthy) that can help to prevent cancer. I do not recommend using kombucha as a medicinal cure for cancer. It can help, but please see a doctor and find professional help if that is the case.
Be sure to share your own kombucha brewing journey in the comments below! Happy brewing!