Why make kombucha at home when I can buy some? For the same reason people make sandwiches and salads at home. Homemade tastes better. Besides you know what's in it.
The recent Naked Juice scandal is only one example why we cannot always trust the industrially made "healthy" stuff that even stores like Whole Foods are selling to the unsuspecting customers. So you see, making your own is not only fun, but sometimes necessary.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented, slightly fizzy drink made out of black or green tea and sugar with the help of a kombucha culture that has, most probably, originated in China many centuries ago. The Chinese understood the fermentation process and brewing, and the tea plant - Camellia sinesis - was known there and used for ages.
To make kombucha you need the kombucha culture, known as Scoby. The word Scoby is an acronym and stands for the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Yeast and bacteria are responsible for the fermentation process. While sugar is unhealthy and really bad for you, it is absolutely necessary for the fermentation process. Sugar feeds the bacteria and gets digested by it. The end result, your kombucha, is only slightly sweet. The caffeine content also diminishes during the fermentation and is of no concern to the caffeine sensitive people.
How to make Kombucha?
The easiest way to make kombucha is to obtain the Scoby and the utensils necessary for the process. Various kombucha making kits are offered on the market. One has to simply follow the instructions. If the conditions are right, within about ten days you will have your first batch of homemade kombucha.
The Scoby is not very easy to come by. Some health food stores may carry it, but you can always get one online. You can also make your own. For this you will need high quality, raw, unpasteurized kombucha, freshly brewed black tea, glass jar, and a dense cheesecloth. It may take up to six weeks to produce your own Scoby and there is always a chance of contamination and the culture going bad.
The process is worth trying, but if you are in a hurry to drink your own homemade kombucha, buying a kombucha making kit is the easiest, fastest, and safest thing to do. Kombucha kits include everything to start your own fizzy drink. They come with instructions that are easy to follow and describe the process in a clear, understandable way.
If you were lucky enough to get a Scoby from a friend, he or she probably explained it to you how to make your first batch. There are a few things that you have to remember. Here is how I made mine:
- I used a large, 3/4 gallon (3 liter), glass jar, boiled filtered water and made a very strong tea using about 3 tsp of tea leaves for each quarter of a gallon (1 liter) water.
- To brew my tea I mixed organic black tea with organic green tea and allowed to steep for about 8 minutes.
- I removed the tea leaves, added organic brown sugar to my tea and allowed it to cool. I used about 4 Tbsp sugar for each quarter of a gallon (1 liter) of tea.
- Once the temperature was about 68°F (20°C), but no more than 77°F (25°C), I added the Scoby to the jar and closed it with a dense cheesecloth, to allow it to "breathe," but also to protect it from dust or unwanted visitors.
- I then placed the jar in the kitchen, at room temperature of no more than 77°F (25°C) away from direct sunlight. I allowed it to ferment for nine days before bottling. Remove the Scoby from the jar and place it on a clean plate. Pour the liquid into bottles. Remember to save some of the kombucha in the jar and use it, together with the Scoby, to start a new batch.
- My kombucha got another three days of fermentation in the bottles and it was just perfect.
The Scoby will propagate in the jar during the process of kombucha making. It will grow in size and produce "offspring" that can be used to make more kombucha. You can give them to friends and help them start their own kombucha without the necessity of spending twenty dollars or more for the culture alone.
Once your fresh kombucha gets bottled, you can add your own flavors: fresh herbs, ginger, mango or cherry juice, and so on. Kombucha then ripens and produces bubbles. After three days or so, the bottles should be placed in the fridge to chill, because kombucha tastes best when chilled. Keeping the bottles cook also stops the fermentation process. The longer the fermentation, the more bubbles. For me, a slightly fizzy kombucha is just perfect, but you may want to experiment a bit.
Why do we need fermented foods?
More and more people suffer from digestive problems. The food we eat, the lifestyle, and the changing body physiology often make digestion a difficult process. Leaky gut syndrome, Crohn's disease, indigestion, cancer of the colon, to name only a few, are the problems many adults in the Western world are facing today. Reports of bad digestive health are often paired with stories of the almost miraculous benefits of naturally fermented foods. Kefir, yogurt, clabbered milk, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, are making their way into many homes.
Digestive fiber, enzymes, probiotics, and prebiotics are used to improve gut health. Taking dietary supplements is probably the easiest way to a better digestive health, but changing daily eating habits may be not only beneficial, but also more enjoyable than pill popping.
The beneficial bacteria from fermented foods have the capability of re-seeding the gut flora and restoring your own microbiome. In the process the proper balance in the intestines is restored and digestion improved. Many digestive problems disappear with time without the necessity of drugs or surgical procedures.
Bacteria and yeast used in food fermentation processes, increase the nutritional value of foods. Depending on what food was used in fermentation, fermented foods are rich in healthy bacteria, fiber, certain nutrients including Vitamin C in sauerkraut, B vitamins, fatty acids, enzymes, amino acids, to name only a few.
Some people are unaware of the fact that your overall health depends on the health of your gut. The immune system "sits" in your gut. Allergies and food sensitivities often disappear or at least improve considerably with the restoration of the gut flora. Improved immune system means less colds, less infections, and less medication. Who does not want this?
Late spring and early summer are a good time to start taking care of your gut health. As your health improves and immune system strengthens, you can already imagine fall and winter without cold or flu. Take small steps, if necessary. Start with kombucha that is not only refreshing, but also easy to make, and move to a slightly more complicated processes of making your own kefir or sauerkraut. And believe me, once you start, you will never want to stop.
In radiant health - passionately raw - Dominique
*Information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.