At its essence, kombucha is a fermented sweet tea. Outside of that, it’s a centuries-old health tonic that I personally swear by.
Steeped in mysterious beginnings, no one is really sure of its origins or even where the name comes from and what it means. However, lovers of this brew tout its taste and benefits all day long. It can be an acquired taste for some, it was for me, but now after several years of drinking kombucha most every day I don’t see myself ever not having it be a frequent part of my diet.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Most of the evidence of kombucha’s health benefits is anecdotal, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Since I have been drinking it regularly, my digestion has improved and I rarely get sick. Even when I do come down with a bug, it’s mild and short-lived. And that’s with having two young children who bring home all kinds of germs.
Other people have said it’s cured their asthma, arthritis, allergies, digestive issues, depression, has given them more energy, has helped with weight loss, and has reduced their cholesterol. This all comes from the fermentation process, which creates tons of beneficial probiotics and bacteria that your gut loves. When your gut is happy, your whole body and being is happy. Kombucha is also full of antioxidants, which have been proven beneficial over and over. The fermentation process also produces acetic acid, the same as found in vinegar, which kills bacteria in your body.
The bottom line is, we know fermented foods and beverages are good for our bodies. And kombucha is just one way to get some of that fermented goodness into your body.
How to Make Kombucha
There are a lot of websites and guidance that try to make brewing kombucha complicated and difficult, but the drink wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has if it were hard to make.
For brewing kombucha, you need a scoby, tea, water, sugar, and a vessel. Scoby is an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It’s a weird, jellyfish-like thing that forms from brewed kombucha and is used to ferment more sweet tea. You can grow one yourself by letting some store-bought booch sit on the counter for a few days. The brown blob that forms is the beginning of your scoby. You then add more sweet tea and water to the scoby and kombucha, and as the brew ferments the scoby grows. The bigger your scoby is, the bigger the batch of kombucha you can brew.
You will sometimes hear the scoby referred to as a mushroom, or that kombucha is mushroom tea. This is just a nickname as neither the scoby or the brew has anything to do with mushrooms.
Here’s the basic recipe we use, adapted from KombuchaKamp. I highly recommend that site for more detailed information on kombucha.
- 6 tsp. of English Breakfast steeped in 4 c. of boiling water for 10 minutes
- remove the tea and dissolve 1 c. of sugar in tea
- let sweet tea cool to room temp
- add sweet tea to a container with the scoby and 1 – 2 cups of already brewed booch
- add a gallon of water, cover the container with a breathable cloth (paper towel or a tea towel are great), and let sit at room temp
- start checking the kombucha for flavor at 4 days
- when the brew has a flavor you like, you can start drawing off and drinking the kombucha
You can do a second ferment at this point for flavor, if you want. Once the kombucha is separated from the scoby in another container you can add flavoring items like fresh fruit, dried herbal tea, and spices like ginger. Your creativity is your only limit here. If you want your booch to be more fizzy, choose a bottle with a tight-fitting lid. If you want it more flat, use a container with a looser seal.
You can now start the whole process over again, using the same scoby. As it grows, you can split it and share it, give it to your pets and livestock, and there are lots of recipes online for scoby jerky and candy. I recommend sourcing your scoby from someone local. That way you get it live rather than dehydrated and then you have to wake it back up. If you’re local to our shop, we will share one with you for $5. Just bring in a jar for transport. Otherwise, you can find them online.
If you’ve never tried kombucha, pick up a bottle and try it. Start with 4 oz. a day and work up to whatever you like. If you drink too much at the start it can be very cleansing to your digestive system. Feeling better is certainly worth a try.