Have you heard of Kombucha, the beverage the ancient Chinese called the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.
The closest you may come to describing this drink is that it is sweet black tea that is fermented with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). After processing, the drink is a highly nutrient dense, los sugar beverage.
The fermentation process takes anywhere between 7-12 days depending on the temperature and the strength of the SCOBY. During the process of fermentation, over 90% of the sugar is gobbled up by the yeast.
PROBIOTICS IN KOMBUCHA
- Gluconacetobacter(>85 percent in most samples)
- Acetobacter(<2 percent)
- Lactobacillus(up to 30 percent in some samples)
- Zygosaccharomyces(>95 percent)
HEALTH BENEFITS OF KOMBUCHA
Detoxification – The detoxifying capacity of kombucha is immense. A perfect example is in its ability to counteract liver cell toxicity.
In one study, the liver cells were protected from oxidative injury and actually maintained their normal physiology, in spite of being exposed to a toxin! According to researchers, this was “probably due to its antioxidant activity and could be beneficial against liver diseases, where oxidative stress is known to play a crucial role.”
Boosts energy – The fermentation process causes iron to be released from the black tea. Also there is a bit of caffeine and some B vitamins which also boost energy. Iron increases hemoglobin levels through chelation. Oxygen molecules are then transported to cells and tissues.
Better digestion – Kombucha is also great for your gut because it is loaded with probiotics. These probiotics encourage the growth of thriving gut flora which help us digest our food and absorb nutrients. At the same time, kombucha helps suppress the growth of bad bacteria that can cause infections and chronic health benefits.
Joint care – Kombucha can help heal, repair and prevent joint damage in a number of ways. Kombucha is loaded with glucosamines, which increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. This supports the preservation of collagen and prevents arthritic pain. In the same way it supports joint collagen, it also supports collagen of the entire body and reduces the appearance of wrinkles on the skin.
Immune health – The overall effect that kombucha has to modulate the immune system is best seen in its ability to control free radicals through antioxidant measures.
Clinically proven to decrease oxidative stress and related immuno-suppression, a powerful antioxidant known as D-saccharic acid-1, 4-lactone (DSL) was discovered during the kombucha fermentation process that’s not found in black tea alone.
Scientists suspect that DSL and the vitamin C present in kombucha are its main secrets in protecting against cell damage, inflammatory diseases, tumors and overall depression of the immune system. Also, we know the probiotics found in kombucha support the immune system.
Cancer prevention – Kombucha is also beneficial for cancer prevention and recovery. A study published in Cancer Letters found that consuming glucaric acid found in kombucha reduced the risk of cancer in humans.
President Reagan even reportedly drank kombucha daily as part of his regimen to battle stomach cancer.
OTHER NOTED BENEFITS OF DRINKING KOMBUCHA
- Reduces hot flashes during menopause
- Helps with chronic constipation
- Reduces insomnia
- Helps to cleanse the gallbladder
- Reduce allergies
- Helps prevent gout and ulcers
- Improves heart health
- Helps to balance blood sugar
- Helps to improve mood and fend off depression
HOW TO MAKE KOMBUCHA (RECIPE)
While it is necessary to make a continuous brew kombucha, it is more effective and healthier in a few ways. First, this method which uses a spigot container of some kind, yields a broader diversity of helpful bacteria, reduces the risk of mold, and best of all keeps you in kombucha all the time.
- Glass jar with spigot
- Wooden spoon for stirring
- Rubber band
- One kombucha SCOBY
- Organic tea
- Cane sugar
- Starter tea from earlier batch of kombucha or distilled white vinegar
- Filtered water
- Prepare the sweet tea using 2 tablespoons of loose tea, 2 family size tea bags or 8-10 small bags per gallon of water. Add one cup of organic cane sugar per gallon (no honey).
- Let the tea cool to room temperature and pour it into a glass jar – leaving 20% of the room at the top. Pour liquid from the previous batch of kombucha into the jar. If you are starting fresh with a dehydrated SCOBY, pour in a ½ cup from a store-bought bottle of kombucha for best results.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and place the SCOBY at the top of the jar of tea. It should float.
- Cover the jar with the coffee filter or cloth and hold it in place with a rubber band.
- Set the jar in a warm corner of the kitchen ( 70-75 degrees is best). Be sure to keep the jar away from any other fermenting products.
- Allow the tea to ferment for about 7 days. It will taste tart but also a little sweet.
- Pour the kombucha into quart-size mason jars with plastic lids ( don’t use metal). Leave about 20% room at the top.
Special tips for continuous brew
Harvesting and feeding: It is best to harvest and feed your SCOBY weekly.
Sugar content: It is a little harder to control the sugar content of kombucha when using the continuous brew system. If you would like your tea low in sugar, draw off at least 2 weeks worth of tea at a time before adding the sugared tea.
Cleaning: Clean the spigot on the jar only if it becomes clogged. If you need to clean, remove the kombucha and the SCOBY and place in another clean glass container. Use white vinegar and a clean bristle brush to clean the jar. Rinse thoroughly and repeat.
Huge SCOBY: With the continuous brewing system you will get a very large SCOBY as it will continue to grow and take up room in your container. To resize your SCOBY you can cut it up using a non-metal utensil. Give to friends and family members so that they can make their own kombucha.