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What is in Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha is a sweet tea based beverage that is fermented, and often times flavored with fresh fruit, fruit juice, herbs or spices. Fermentation dates back as far as 6000 B.C., and has been used by every civilization throughout culinary history. It can be made carbonated, by undergoing a second fermentation process (which I will go into more detail on within the instructions below, later in this article), and makes a healthy, and tasty substitution for not so good for you commercial sodas.
You can find kombucha at most commercial grocery, and health food stores, usually located in the produce section near the fresh juices.
They come in a wide array of flavors, and it is highly recommended to pick up a bottle or two to try (if you have not already enjoyed it before), the next time you are at your local grocery store, before you decide to go all in with brewing your own.
Probiotics For a Healthy Gut
The scoby, is what provides the probiotics and good bacteria for supporting a healthy digestive system.
What is a scoby? A scoby, is a live, active culture made up of friendly bacteria and yeast, which produces healthy probiotic strains such as acetobacter, brettanomyces, saccharomyces, lactobacillus, gluconacetobacter, pediococcus, and zygosaccharomyces.
Our body’s need a number of different strains of probiotics, in order to properly function and digest food efficiently. Scoby kombucha only provides a handful of healthy probiotic strains, which is why it is recommended to incorporate many kinds of fermented foods weekly.
The scoby is like a smooth, hard rubber texture, and can sometimes have a slimy look to it (which is perfectly normal, so don’t be alarmed). A scoby is also commonly known by other names such as “mother” or “mushroom (because it somewhat resembles the head of a mushroom).”
The scoby is fed and grows, by absorbing and metabolizing the caffeine and organic sugars within the brew, thus reducing the amount of sugar and caffeine within each serving being consumed (which is great news for those of you worried about the sugar content within kombucha).
The longer you brew your mixture for, the less sugar, and more acidic it becomes, as well as less caffeinated.
If brewing with green tea, then you will also have catechin’s in your brew, which is another powerhouse of antioxidants that are beneficial for reducing oxidative stress, premature aging, inflammation, and the possible formation of tumors (which could later turn into cancerous cells).
The fermentation process of these teas, helps to increase the levels of polyphenols and catechin’s, making the antioxidant contents in kombucha even stronger, against fighting free radical damaging oxidative stress.
Boosts Immune System and Fights Disease
We have already gone over how kombucha is full of probiotics, and how they are important in supporting a healthy digestive system and gut, but it goes even further than that when it comes to supporting overall health. A healthy gut, equals a healthy body, because it strengthens and boosts our immune system, making us less susceptible to contracting viral illnesses.
Our body’s digestive system naturally produces good bacteria that keeps our immune system functioning properly, but poor dieting, or medications, can deplete the good bacteria within our guts, and weaken our immune system, causing us to get sick more easily and or more frequently.
This is why it is highly recommended to incorporate many probiotics, during, and especially following proscribed antibiotics. Antibiotics work by attacking and killing every bacterium present within the body, including the good bacteria our body’s need for proper immune support. Taking probiotics, will help in building the good bacteria up again within the stomach wall, and getting your body back to its original state, before taking the antibiotics.
Kombucha helps in fighting many diseases, because of its antioxidant properties which we touched on above. Kombucha alone however, is not able to prevent or decrease diseases, for it takes incorporating healthy eating and exercise habits, in order to see a significant change in your body’s overall health.
Where to Buy a Scoby
So, you are convinced that you want to jump on the bandwagon and save money by brewing your own kombucha, but have no idea where to find a scoby or starter brew to get the process started. Rest assured, there are a couple of options to explore!
Years ago, I found my first scoby at a local farmer’s market, from a lovely lady who made fresh sourdough breads and healthy sprouted grains. It was the mother to all of my brewing that followed throughout the years, as well as helping over hundreds of people locally (when I used to do farmer’s markets myself) on how to get started brewing their own kombucha.
Farmers markets is a great place to look for a scoby, however, it could be a hit or miss, because you would have to find a vendor who brews their own, and has extra cultures to share.
The next option I would suggest checking (if you prefer to stick with local), is searching on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace local buy sell (if you have a Facebook account). You would be surprised what you will find on these platforms nowadays, and there are many people I have noticed advertising kombucha scoby’s for sale (this all depends on your geographic location, for not all areas have numerous people interested in brewing kombucha).
If farmer’s markets, and social media are not an option for you, then you can also find them online, and have them shipped to your home within just a couple days.
This provider on Amazon is greatly trusted for the quality and care of their Scobie’s, as well as their customer service.
Be careful with where you buy your cultures online, and make sure to read the fine print carefully, because many places I have found sell you an overpriced culture, that does not even make a full gallon of tea.
Over the years, I have had many costumers buy a scoby from me, who said they first tried purchasing one online, and it either never formed a baby scoby properly, or they had an issue with the scoby developing mold, thus rendering the batch useless and having to discard everything.
Once you find your scoby and starter brew, then you are well on your way to a healthier gut, while saving money throughout the journey.
How to Brew Kombucha At Home
To get started you will need the following:
- Distilled white vinegar.
- One-gallon or two-gallon glass container.
- Plastic or wood ladle and spoon
- Recycled kombucha bottles, glass soda bottles, small mouthed mason jars, or flip-top growlers, (growlers I have found make the best carbonated kombucha for second fermentation).
- 10-14 tea bags per gallon of tea (ratio depends on the type of tea, and how strong you like your tea). I mostly use black tea, but you can use green, or other varieties. I would up the amount of tea bags if using green tea because it comes out being much lighter tasting. Also, recommend using black tea for your first starter batch.
- Cane sugar, (preferably non-GMO or organic). You can use white sugar if you like. I just prefer to use the cane.
- Filtered water (never use tap water, unless you have good, clean water from a well)
- One scoby with starter batch.
First Fermentation (1F):
Start by sterilizing all containers you are using for first fermentation and utensils with white vinegar right before starting your batch. Make sure to also sterilize your hands with white vinegar before coming in contact with the scoby.
Bring a quart of the filtered water to a boil, add your tea bags, cover, and let steep for 10-15 minutes. When finished steeping remove lid, then remove the tea bags. Add 1-1 1/2 cups of sugar (for each gallon that you make) to the hot tea mixture and stir until all the sugar has dissolved and let sit while you move to the next step.
Now, you can add the remaining three quarts of water into your gallon container. Next, add the tea mixture (once it has cooled down to room tempurature) to the gallon container.
Stir everything together and then dump the scoby in, along with the starter tea mixture. Cover with a layer of pantyhose. Yes, pantyhose! Best tool I have found at allowing the brew to breath, while keeping any bugs out. Let ferment for 7-10 days.
After 7-10 days of brewing, you can go ahead and drink it at this time but if you want it to be flavored and carbonated more, then you will need to do a second fermentation. 7-10 days is the rule of thumb, but there are many batches that I let go for up to 2-3 weeks. I have noticed that the longer you let it brew for, the less sweet, and carbonated the final product tends to be, as well as more acidic.
Second Fermentation (2F):
After the 7-10 days (or longer if you prefer), sterilize all bottles you intend to use for 2F, and your hands with vinegar. Remove scoby from the batch and place on a sterilized plate or container. Make sure you also pull out 1-2 cups of the kombucha brew for the scoby (this will be your starter tea for the next batch you make).
Once scoby and starter is removed, you can now add whatever fresh fruit or fresh juice you desire for flavoring. The sky really is the limit here! I have a juicer, so usually I’ll make fresh juice to flavor with. One cup of juice per every gallon that you make. You can also add fresh cut fruit, spices or herbs as well. Once juice has been stirred into the brew, you can now add it to your vessel of choice, (bottles, jars, growlers, etc.) leaving at least one inch of room from the top to allow carbonation expansion. Let ferment for another 3-7 days and then enjoy!
Kombucha in a Nutshell
Kombucha is a great addition to any healthy lifestyle, for it supports healthy digestion, boosts the immune system, fights off free radicals and oxidative stress, increases energy levels, and makes a great substitute for anyone trying to cut down on drinking sodas.
Buying kombucha however, can get very costly, for on average, commercial grocery stores sells kombucha for $3-$5 a bottle, which can really add up, because it is recommended to drink 8-16 ounces a day.
Brewing your own kombucha at home, costs less than $0.50 cents per bottle, and is much easier of a process than what many people may think. If you can brew sweet tea, then you can make kombucha.
I hope that you have found this article to be helpful and informative! Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have along your journey.