What Is Combucha
Well known as a good source of probiotics, kombucha is a sweet tea beverage fermented with yeast and bacteria. It is commonly called the “immortal health elixir” and it’s more popular now than ever before.
In addition to its strong, robust flavor, kombucha is an incredible tonic with many health-promoting properties. Let’s explore six ways kombucha supports gut health.
It’s often referred to as “mushroom-tea” because during the brewing process the bacteria and yeast grow into a mass that resembles a mushroom cap.
The drink has a slight effervescence and sweet-tart flavor. It often has small remnants of the bacteria mix floating in it, which sounds unappealing but is not much different from finding some sediment in your wine.Kombucha is highly acidic, contains sugar, B vitamins and antioxidants, as well as some alcohol that results from the fermentation process. It has about 30 calories per eight ounces (mainly from the sugar), which is considerably less than other soft drinks.
Why Is It So Healthy
Kombucha Contains Probiotics
True kombucha contains a significant amount of live probiotic strains including Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus is a genus of friendly bacteria that encourage normal digestion, soothe the digestive tract, and promote easy bowel movements. If your gut needs to be tamed, probiotics of the Lactobacillus variety (and there are many species of Lactobacillus)may help.
Supports The Immune System
The immune system is an integral part of the body’s ability to heal, defend, and maintain itself. Without complete, proper nutrition, or if toxin exposure becomes too great,the immune system may shut down. There are a number of ways to support normal immune system function and kombucha seems to be one of them.
It Contains Antioxidants
The human body requires and uses oxygen to carry out its normal processes and metabolic byproducts like free radicals are unavoidable. Free radicals lead to oxidative stress and can damage cells. Antioxidants are like a fire extinguisher-they’re the body’s defense. Kombucha has demonstrated an ability to help defend against free radical damage.
May Help Ulcer Healing
In a perfect world, nobody would ever experience any sort of digestive upset. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and peptic ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, are a common problem experienced by many caused by stress. They are sores in the lining of the digestive tract that are both painful and disruptive. Some studies suggest that kombucha may aid in healing ulcers.
Kombucha In Maintaining Body Weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight is one way to support overall wellness and good health. Unfortunately, many people struggle to stay at an ideal weight. Many are either overweight or obese. This leads to many health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Kombucha isn’t a weight loss beverage but some research has shown that when it’s part of an overall strategy it may help promote a normal body weight.
Support Against Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world. Although there are over 100 different types of cancers, it can, in general, be described as a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body.
We have to be clear that kombucha isn’t a treatment or preventative measure for cancer. But, some research has resulted in opinions that kombucha may have something to offer with respect to resistance against cancer.It’s an interesting concept and hopefully more research will come forward with more information.
When deciding which kombucha is right for you, remember that many store-bought brands add “extra” ingredients. They may be herbal, organic, and beneficial or they might be extra sugars or artificial flavors.
Always check the ingredients before you buy!The best is always homemade!
How To Make Your Own Kombucha Scoby
– 7 cups water
– 1/2 cup white granulated sugar (see Recipe Notes)
– 4 bags black tea, or 1 tablespoon looseleaf (see Recipe Note)
– 1 cup unflavored, unpasteurized store-bought kombucha
– 2-quart or larger saucepan
– Long-handled spoon
– 2-quart or larger glass jar, like a canning jar (not plastic or metal)
– Tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, cover the jar with rubber band
How To Make It
- Make the sweet tea. Bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar until it is completely dissolved. Add the tea and allow to steep until the tea cools to room temperature. Remove and discard the tea. (Alternatively, boil half the amount of water, dissolve the sugar and steep the tea, then add the remaining water to cool the tea more rapidly.)
- Combine the sweet tea and kombucha in a jar. Pour the sweet tea into the jar. Pour the kombucha on top — if you see a blobby “baby scoby” in the bottom of your jar of commercial kombucha, make sure this gets transferred. (But if you don’t see one, don’t worry! Your scoby will still form.) Stir to combine.
- Cover and store for 1 to 4 weeks. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of tightly-woven cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels secured with a rubber band. (If you develop problems with gnats or fruit flies, use a tightly woven cloth or paper towels, which will do a better job keeping the insects out of your brew.) Place the jar somewhere at average room temperature (70°F), out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Sunlight can prevent the kombucha from fermenting and the scoby from forming, so wrap the jar in a cloth if you can’t keep it away from sunlight.
- First, bubbles will gather on the surface. For the first few days, nothing will happen. Then you’ll start to see groups of tiny bubbles starting to collect on the surface.
- Then, the bubbles will collect into a film. After a few more days, the groups of bubbles will start to connect and form a thin, transparent, jelly-like film across the surface of the tea. You’ll also see bubbles forming around the edges of the film. This is carbon-dioxide from the fermenting tea and a sign that everything is healthy and happy!
- The film will thicken into a solid, opaque layer. Over the next few days, the layer will continue to thicken and gradually become opaque. When the scoby is about 1/4-inch thick, it’s ready to be used to make kombucha tea — depending on the temperature and conditions in your kitchen, this might take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks.
- The finished scoby: Your finished scoby might look a little nubbly, rough, patchy, or otherwise “not quite like a grown-up scoby.” It’s ok! Your scoby will start to smooth out and take on a uniform color over the course of a few batches of kombucha — take a look a the before and after pictures of a baby and grown-up scoby in the gallery above.
- Using the liquid used to grow the scoby: The liquid used to grow the scoby will likely be too strong and vinegary to drink (and if you’re not used to drinking kombucha or very vinegary beverages, it can give you a stomach ache). You can use it to start your first batch of kombucha, or you can use it as a cleaning solution on your counters.
- Your scoby is forming normally and is healthy if: You see bubbles, clear jelly-like masses, opaque jelly-like masses, stringy or gritty brown bits. Also if the tea smells fresh, tart, and slightly vinegary (this aroma will become more pronounced the further into the process you go).
- Your finished scoby is normal and healthy if: It’s about a quarter-inch thick and opaque. It’s fine if the scoby is bubbled or nubbly or has a rough edge. It’s also ok if it’s thinner in some parts than others or if there’s a hole. Your scoby will become smoother and more uniform as you brew more batches of kombucha.
- There is a problem if: You see fuzzy black or green mold growing on top of the forming scoby, or if your tea starts to smell cheesy, rancid, or otherwise unpleasant. In any of these cases, bad bacteria has taken hold of the tea- discard this batch and start again with a fresh batch.
- If you can’t tell if there’s a problem… Continue to let the tea ferment and the scoby form. If it’s a problem, it will get worse- if it’s a normal part of the process, it should normalize (or at least not get any worse!)
- Covering for the jar: Cheesecloth is not ideal because it’s easy for small insects, like fruit flies, to wiggle through the layers. Use a few layers of tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar, and secure it tightly with rubber bands or twine.
- Using Other Sugars: Scobys form best if you use plain, granulated table sugar. Organic sugar is fine, but avoid alternative sugars or honey.
- Substituting Other Teas: Plain black tea is the best and most nutritious tea for scoby growth. For this step of growing a new kombucha, use black tea if at all possible; you can play around with other teas once you start making kombucha regularly.
- Part of the job of the scoby (“Scoby” is actually an acronym-Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast),is to protect the kombucha while it ferments. This means that a jar of kombucha without a scoby is vulnerable to any bacteria, good or bad, that’s floating around the environment. This means that you need to be extra vigilant during this time: make sure the jar and utensils you use are squeaky-clean and rinsed of any soap residue.Keep the growing kombucha covered and away from direct sunlight; also keep the jar somewhere out of the way where it won’t get jostled.
- Wash your hands before touching or handling the scoby.
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