The probiotic drink known as Kombucha has taken off among the health conscious within recent years. This fermented tea contains a variety of helpful bacteria that support digestion, and it also boosts the immune system as it contains enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols that are beneficial to any lifestyle.
Kombucha is made from green, black or white tea, fermented for at least seven days with sugar and a fungal culture known as ‘the Mother’ or a ‘SCOBY’ (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast)
It is thought that Kombucha originated in 212 BC in Asia during the Chinese Tsin dynasty, where it was referred to as ‘the remedy for immortality’ or ‘the elixir of life,‘ probably because of its long list of health benefits.
Here are four healthy reasons to enjoy this power-packed drink.
While many vegan foods are high in vitamin K1, there are few plant foods that are high in vitamin K2. Lacto-fermentation provides your body with a dose of healthy bacteria that produce K2, so these fermented foods are also a great source of vitamin K. Fermenting your own vegetables is also very easy (insert link to sauerkraut recipe)
Kombucha is very useful when it comes to cleansing the body of pharmaceuticals and environmental pollutants because of its high levels of glucuronic acid, which combines with these toxins, converting them into soluble compounds that the body can eliminate. Kombucha also helps prevent tissues from absorbing industrial toxins caused by environmental pollutants. It’s known as a great liver cleanser too.
Kombucha has been shown to have high levels of a range of different antioxidants, including vitamins E and C, beta-carotene and other carotenoids. Carotenoids act as antioxidants, protecting the body against aging and even fighting cellular damage. Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A in our bodies, which is essential for healthy skin, eyes and immune systems.
Kombucha also contains polyphenols, and has a higher antioxidant activity than plain tea. It is said to be 100 times higher in vitamin C and 25 times higher in vitamin E.
Organic acids found in Kombucha convert trivalent iron compounds from plant sources to divalent iron ions. This makes iron from plant sources more available to the body. The vitamin C in Kombucha also enhances iron absorption. Research suggests that Kombucha is particularly recommended for elderly people and others at risk of developing an iron deficiency.
For those who want to enjoy this powerful healing drink on a daily basis, here is a recipe for your very own homemade Kombucha:
Get yourself a ‘SCOBY’
A SCOBY, also known as ‘the Mother,’ is a living, growing organism, so getting one isn’t as easy as going to the store and buying one. It is a live colony of bacteria and yeast, and it comes in the form of a tough, jelly disk.
You can look online for stores that will send one to you, or you can look on your local craigslist. Sometimes your local health food store might even be able to point you in the direction of finding one.
If you’re lucky enough to know a friend who’s already making Kombucha, you can ask him or her to share one of the babies it produces.
Gather your equipment
- glass jar (half-gallon)
- wooden spoon
- cotton cloth or paper towel
- boiling pot
- rubber band
Note: Be sure to use glass, plastic or wood when handling your Kombucha and your scoby. It is advised to avoid prolonged contact with metal, both during and after brewing, as this affects the flavor and also weakens the Scoby over time.
Collect your Ingredients
- 2 quarts of filtered water (preferably free of chlorine and fluoride)
- 1/2 cup organic sugar (preferably unprocessed, such as Rapadura)
- 4 bags of black tea, green tea or a mix of both
- 1 cup of starter tea from either the last batch of Kombucha or store-bought Kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral flavored)
PutIt All Together
- Bring to boil two quarts (eight cups) of filtered water. Remove from heat and add sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved. Add tea bags and allow to steep until the water has cooled to room temperature.
- Once this mixture is cool, remove tea bags, then add the cup of starter tea.
- Pour mixture into the glass jar and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels, secured with a rubber band.
- Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Allow to ferment for seven to ten days. After about five days, you can begin tasting the Kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.
Note: It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top or bottom of the jar, or even to turn sideways during fermentation. Within a few days, a new, cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the Kombucha. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s okay if they separate. You may also see strings floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. These are all normal signs of healthy fermentation.