What’s the Story Behind Kombucha?

How to make it and why to drink it!

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-12-08-45-pmHey everyone! My name’s Emily Albert and I have the pleasure this year of being an ambassador for the Victoria Yoga Conference. A big part of yoga, for me, is a source of mental and physical health. Living yoga represents what I am putting in my body; what I use to fuel myself to be as happy and healthy as I possibly can. To tell you the truth a huge part of what makes me feel as stellar as I do on a daily basis is KOMBUCHA. If you have sipped the nectar of this fluorescent drink, you may know some of the beauty behind this spectacular potion (okay, well, it’s not actually a potion). Maybe after your first sip, you couldn’t help yourself from going on an internet rampage, learning the in’s and out’s of this fermented tea, or maybe you have no fricken’ clue what I’m talking about when I say “kombucha”. If any of these apply to you, or even if they don’t, you are in the right place!

Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea, that has actually been around for centuries. To be more specific, the first recorded use of kombucha comes from China in 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty. It was known as “The Tea of Immortality”. It has been used in Eastern Europe, Russia and Japan for several centuries. It’s from Japan in 415 AD that the name kombucha is said to have come.

There are some misconceptions about kombucha: some say it’s loaded with sugar, it’s just another type of soda, or there’s alcohol in it.

Although the initial amount of sugar you add is considered high, during the fermentation process the beneficial colonies of bacteria feed off this sugar and create healthful acids, enzymes and probiotics. Kombucha is far from, “just another type of soda”, it’s filled with a multitude of whole nutrition. The fermentation process causes a natural carbonation and produces some B-vitamins and billions of bacteria that stimulate and create a healthy gut! These healthy gut bacteria help to digest your food and create for a better functioning digestive system.

There is a minute amount of alcohol in kombucha (about 0.5%), but you would need to drink a whole lot of it to “get drunk”. This alcohol content is a product of the fermentation process, as the bacteria consume the sugars, a bi-product is produced in the form of alcohol. Although it is possible to buy or make kombucha that is alcoholic, it is not a common thing, or something you need to worry about at your local grocer.  

Many health claims are made for kombucha but there is less research on the benefits of kombucha than there is on fermented milk products, such as milk kefir. It has certainly been shown to have similar antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties in lab tests. In some tests it’s been shown to protect against stress and improve liver function. There is a lot of experiential evidence from people who have been using kombucha over many years. Many of the benefits reported include improvements in energy levels, metabolic disorders, allergies, cancer, digestive problems, candidiasis, hypertension, chronic fatigue and arthritis. It‘s also used externally for skin problems and as a hair wash among other things.

As well, depending on what type of tea is used for the kombucha, you will receive the benefits of that tea. Take green tea for an example, green tea has been shown to be one of the healthiest beverages. Green tea contains many bioactive compounds which function as powerful antioxidants in the body. Studies have also shown that drinking green tea regularly can increase the amount of calories you burn, reduce belly fat, improve cholesterol levels, help with blood sugar, and green tea drinkers have been shown to have a reduced risk of prostate, breast and colon cancer! Now imagine all of these benefits of green tea, mixed with the natural benefits of kombucha, you’re pretty much a superhero now, right?

Now kombucha at the store can get pretty pricy, but I have a solution for you! You can easily make an entire gallon of kombucha at home for less than a single bottle at the store! On the plus side, it is just as nutritious and tasty. Also, you can customize it however you like.

How to make it

This is the standard recipe for 1 gallon. Scale up or down depending on the size of your vessel.

Supplies:screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-12-09-03-pm

  • 1 cup organic sugar – you can use white sugar but make sure it says “cane sugar”
  • 4-6 bags tea – for loose leaf tea, 1 bag of tea = 1 tsp
  • 1 Kombucha SCOBY (Culture) –>
  • 1-2 cups starter liquid (plain/ unflavoured kombucha)
  • Purified water – the amount depends upon the size of your brewing vessel
  • A pot to boil the water
  • A brewing vessel – ceramic, glass, stainless steel or oak – you can use food grade plastic, but what with BPA’s,  I prefer the others!
  • A cloth cover – NO CHEESECLOTH! The weave is too loose and will allow fruit flies in your brew (I use a old shirt that I cut up. )
  • A rubber band

First Task: Make Your Sweet Tea Solution

This is the stuff that will feed your mother culture and turn into delicious Kombucha Tea:screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-12-09-13-pm

  1. Boil 4 cups of water.
  2. Add hot water & tea bags to your chosen brewing vessel.
  3. Let steep for 10-20 minutes.
  4.  Remove tea bags.
  5. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
  6. Fill vessel about ¾ full with purified cold water – the cold water will bring the temp of the hot water to a level where it won’t kill the yeast (they thrive at lukewarm).
  7.  If tea is body temperature or below, proceed to the next step. If not, wait until it cools before completing the next step.

Second Task: Add SCOBY & Starter Liquid

  • Add the scoby and unflavoured kombucha(starter)
  • Cover with cloth
  • Place rubber band over cloth/ top of bottle to secure cloth in over vessel.

Third Task: Let brew for 1 1/2  – 2 weeks

  • Taste every so often until it is at your preferred taste.

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-12-09-22-pmFourth Task: Bottle & Flavour

  • Place fruit or a tablespoon or 2 of sugar, as well as the optional ginger, cinnamon sticks or what ever you want to try into the bottles you will pour you kombucha into
  • Pour your now brewed sweet tea into air tight sealable bottles
  • Close and let sit for 3 day – a week longer

 

Sources: Wellness Mama and Seeds of Health


emily albert Author: Emily Albert, VYC Ambassador

I was drawn to yoga for a place and way to bring a sense of quietness and calmness to my mind. While I was stuck in deep mental illness and a place where I couldn’t be alone with my thoughts. Yoga has provided me with the ability to accept myself and to live a happy life that has now been lived to its fullest.