Sugar laden sodas and artificial fruit juice stand by, Kombucha is taking over and it’s a healthy liquid revolution. Whether you’ve only tried it with your nose upturned to the slightly bitter tang, or take it down by the bottle on a daily basis, it’s hard to ignore the boom that this fizzy, healthy touting tea is creating. As I am discovering with my first home brewed batch, Kombucha is also an easy at home project that results in a great tasting and good for the body refreshment.
Kombucha is an ancient fermented drink that is thought to have originated in Russia in the late 19th century but can also be traced back to ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures. Made from a tea and sugar brew left at room temperature to ferment for several weeks, Kombucha brewing techniques have been passed down through generations of people who have held the drink in high esteem and attributed it with potent health giving properties.
In our modern adaptation of the drink, fruit juice flavorings have been added to the traditional tea base to create colorful, flavorful and popular drinks. However, because of Kombucha’s relatively recent re-popularization and the difficulty of studying a constantly changing food with live cultures that differ depending on the preparation method and huge variety of beneficial bacteria that can inoculate the beverage, It has been difficult for researchers to provide scientific support for what specific impacts Kombucha has on the body. Nevertheless, Kombucha producers list vitality, energy, immunity, digestion and appetite control as some of the benefits of their products and consumers are buying it. The general consensus of regular Kombucha drinkers is positive, linking it to personal well-being and many stories of major health changes and noticeable benefits.
In my own experience with semi-regular Kombucha consumption, I do notice a slight energy boost, a sense of lasting satiation and calming in my digestive tract. But, as an opponent to sodas, Kombucha is mainly a healthier way for me to satiate the occasional hankering for a refreshing fizzy drink and is a healthier alternative to coffee when I need an afternoon pick me up.
Despite the lack of research on Kombucha directly, several health benefits can be confirmed by its probiotic contents that have been researched extensively in other fermented foods such as yogurt and keifer. Because Kombucha is a raw and live fermented food, it is known to contain billions of probiotic cultures linked to a myriad of health benefits. The positive impact probiotics have on digestion, immunity, inflammation, detoxification and nutrient absorption is reason enough to take a few sips of Kombucha on a daily basis.
Brewing your own Kombucha at home, as I discovered this week in my first trial run, is pretty easy. The first, and most necessary step is getting a “baby” or “scoby”. The baby is a round gel like patty that forms on the surface of the Kombucha during fermentation and contains billions of probiotic organisms. You can get a Kombucha baby from a friend or order one online.
To start, brew a large batch of your favorite tea, steep it with a small amount of sugar (1 C. Sugar/3 Qts. H20-sugar is important to fuel for the fermentation process) and cool the brew to room temperature. Pour the brew into a large clean jar, carefully place the baby on the surface and secure a tea towel or cheesecloth over the jar opening and walk away. Kombucha brews best in warm, dark places but will eventually ferment just about anywhere you leave it. The longer you let it sit, the more carbonation and less tang you will get. Just make sure you let it ferment for at least a week so the cultures of beneficial bacteria have ample time to develop.
Bottle, refrigerate, and enjoy!