What Is Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha is thought to originate in China at least two thousand years ago. The use of Kombucha was first recorded in China during the Tsin Dynasty about 221 BC. Kombucha has been used in Japan, Russia, Eastern Europe and has spread worldwide through the years.
Kombucha also known as the elixir of immortality, is a beverage made from the fermentation of black tea and sugar. Kombucha is packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other health benefits which make it a very recommendable tea. Kombucha obtains its nutrients when it is fermented with a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria. This whole procedure takes a certain period of time, usually 7-12 days, always depending on the temperature and the strength of the bacterial or yeast colony used. The symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria consume more than 90% of the sugar found in this tea leaving behind a low-sugar and nutrient-rich beverage.
The symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria (kombucha SCOBY) is a live collection of useful microorganisms which tend to turn carbohydrates found in this tea into healthy acids and probiotics. The symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria is often known as mushrooms; hence, the tea is also known as Manchurian mushroom tea.
Kombucha tea is fermented in an anaerobic environment, meaning in an air-free environment. If the symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria is properly taken care of, it can live for many years and can be used to make lots and lots of kombucha tea.
Presently, Kombucha tea is becoming more and more popular due to its health benefits. This tea is available in many grocery stores, though many people tend to produce kombucha tea at home.
What Is the Purpose of Adding Kombucha to Your Diet?
As mentioned, Kombucha tea is a very healthy beverage which contains beneficial acids and probiotics. For this reason, Kombucha tea should be included in your diet. Other than its health benefits, Kombucha tea has a great taste as well. Even though there are many contradictory opinions when it comes to kombucha tea and its health benefits, in general, this nutrient-rich drink is considered safe when consumed from trustable sources or when made at home correctly following the entire procedure explained below.
Anyone who is healthy and has no chronic medical problems should add kombucha tea to their diet. Kombucha tea improves digestion as it contains probiotics, healthy acids, and enzymes. When kombucha tea is consumed regularly, it will help maintain a healthy and well-balanced gastrointestinal system.
Kombucha is a natural detoxifier, which supports the liver, the main detoxification organ in the human body. Due to its high content of glucaric acid, Kombucha tea helps the liver in the natural process of detoxification. Kombucha tea supports the digestion process and helps eliminate food from the gastrointestinal system. Kombucha tea also boosts the immune system due to its antioxidant properties. This tea contains a special ingredient called D-saccharic acid 1.4 lactones (DSL) that has great antioxidant properties, especially for cellular detoxification.
Since it contains glucosamines, kombucha tea also supports joint health. Glucosamine is known to increase the levels of hyaluronic acid in the human body which is important for joint health.
What Is the Difference Between Kombucha and Other Probiotic Drinks?
Kombucha tea, like other probiotic drinks, is packed with vitamins, organic acids, and live probiotics. Probiotic drinks which are an alternative to kombucha tea include homemade ginger ale, sauerkraut, beet kvass, water kefir, yogurt, pickles, etc. These are all probiotic drinks that should be added to your diet for a better and balanced health of the gastrointestinal system.
Do bear in mind that probiotics won’t perform a miracle on your gastrointestinal system. However, its regular consumption will make your gastrointestinal system healthier as the bowel movements are encouraged, and constipation is often prevented. They can also help boost the immune system.
How Is Kombucha Made?
Kombucha can be made at home, though it requires patience and the entire procedure needs to be followed to reach the desired final product. When Kombucha tea is made incorrectly, the kombucha SCOBY can be very dangerous to your health.
The entire procedure of producing kombucha consists of:
- Sterilizing all the equipment that you will need for making kombucha tea.
- Wash your hands well.
- Make 1 gallon of black tea. You can also use a mix of black tea, green tea, or even herbal tea.
- Add one cup of sugar. Honey, other sweeteners, and sugar substitutes are not recommended.
- Let the tea cool down.
- Once the tea has cooled down, add 1 cup of brewed and raw kombucha. You can also add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, if you don’t have any brewed and raw kombucha.
- On top of the mixture, add the kombucha SCOBY so the fermentation process can begin.
- Cover the jar with the tea carefully using an organic cloth.
- It will take your kombucha tea about 7 to 12 days before it is ready.
- The mixture should sit at a room temperature for the next couple of days.
- After 7 to 12 days, remove the kombucha SCOBY, as well as one cup of finished kombucha to use when making kombucha tea again.
- Pour the kombucha tea into airtight bottles or jars for storage.
- Wait another one or two days for the kombucha tea to become carbonated.
- Keep the airtight bottles or jars in the refrigerator and consume this kombucha tea regularly.
Does Kombucha Contain Alcohol?
Yes, though only in small amounts, Kombucha tea does contain alcohol. According to some studies, the Kombucha tea which can be bought in stores contains about 0.5% and up to 1.0% alcohol. In cases when Kombucha tea contains more than 0.5% alcohol, this statement should be labeled and this Kombucha tea is not available for everyone. You will probably need an ID to buy this Kombucha tea at the local grocery store.
It has been estimated that homemade Kombucha contains more alcohol than the one which can be bought in stores. As long as you don’t drink more than a couple of glasses a day, you will have no problem at all. However, people who are trying to avoid alcohol or don’t consume it at all should be aware that Kombucha tea does contain a little bit of alcohol.
Can You Make Kombucha Yourself?
Yes, you can make Kombucha yourself at home, as long as you respect the entire process required for its production. However, when Kombucha tea is made at home, extra precaution should be made especially with the SCOBY used. When used incorrectly, these bacteria can be very dangerous to your health. If the SCOBY is healthy, then the Kombucha tea will be healthy as well. If you follow all the necessary steps, pay attention to the equipment you use, sanitize and clean them well, and handle the SCOBY carefully, you will probably succeed and make a very tasty and healthy Kombucha tea.
The following tips may help you when brewing Kombucha tea yourself:
- Kombucha tea will have a neutral aroma at the beginning. As days pass and the fermentation process continues, the Kombucha tea will have a vinegary smell.
- A Kombucha SCOBY can live for many years. However, it is good to know that Kombucha SCOBY is not indestructible. You should discard your Kombucha SCOBY and get a new one for other brewings when it develops a green or black mold, as well as when it turns black.
- The Kombucha SCOBY can float on the top of the jar, on the bottom, and even sideways. You should not worry if your Kombucha SCOBY develops holes, patches, bumps, etc. These changes signify a change in the environment and not any problem with the SCOBY itself.
- If you are not satisfied with the first Kombucha tea you made, you can just discard it and start brewing a new one. Over time, you will get the instinct and skills to brew a perfect and tasty Kombucha tea.
- To prolong the life of your Kombucha SCOBY, you should carefully follow the recipe instructions. The oldest layers of the SCOBY should be discarded every now and then. You can use this SCOBY for making new Kombucha SCOBY or you can just throw it away if you have enough SCOBY already.
What Are the Health Benefits of Drinking Kombucha?
As mentioned, Kombucha tea is a very healthy drink containing beneficial acids and probiotics. When compared to other soft drinks and carbonated beverages, Kombucha tea is better as it contains no fat or proteins. Kombucha tea contains only about 30 calories, vitamin B, acetic acid, lactic acid, glucuronic acid, bacillus coagulans, S. boulardii, EGCG, etc.
The main health benefits of kombucha tea are:
- Weight loss
- Improves mood and helps relieve depression and anxiety
- Helps eliminate nutrients from the body
- Increases energy
- Improves digestion in the gastrointestinal system
- Improves the function of the pancreas
- Improves and encourages liver detoxification
- Reduces yeast
What Are the Risks/Side Effects of Kombucha Tea?
Just like any other food or drink, Kombucha tea, along with its health benefits, has some potential risks and side effects.
Possible risks and side effects of Kombucha tea include:
- When the Kombucha tea is made incorrectly, the bacteria that it contains can be dangerous. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that you make your Kombucha tea with care. This is especially true in cases where Kombucha tea is made at home.
- Kombucha tea may not be recommended for pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and individuals who are diagnosed with chronic medical conditions. Before consuming Kombucha tea, consult your health care provider to ensure that it is safe to do so.
- Kombucha tea can lead to abdominal discomfort and bloating, especially in those who have problems with their gastrointestinal system. Individuals who have a digestive disorder should consult their health care provider before consuming Kombucha tea.
- When Kombucha tea is prepared in a ceramic vessel, the acidic brew can leach the lead from the vessel, causing the drink to become dangerous to consume.