Let's talk Kombucha
I wanted to talk about Kombucha. I love it! I just recently added some new tea to feed my own home brew and got to thinking that it might be a fun thing to write a blog post about. My scoby sits on my counter looking like some kind of space alien. It quietly sits in its jar eating the surgery tea and breathing outs its little microbial breath which I happily drink.
Lets start with answering the question, What the heck is Kombucha? Kombucha is a fermented drink that has been around for around 2,000 years. It was originated in China but has made itself all around the world. It is even said that because of the fermentation process it can be as beneficial as eating yogurt.
The basic ingredients to make Kombucha are sugar, green or black tea and a scoby. When you combine all of these ingredients together the process of fermentation begins and gives this drink its probiotic properties.
What is a scoby you may ask? Well it is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. This colony forms a strange alien like rubbery disc over time. In the same way that your grandma or mom may have had a sourdough starter a Kombucha scoby is always growing, you keep feeding it and taking care of it you will always have it. In addition it is also something that you can give away to people so they can start fermenting their own. So what do you do if you want to start your own but don’t know anyone who can give you a chunk of scoby? Well you can always go online and order a starter but you can also grown your own using a bottle of store bought Kombucha. Sometime you can also find online in community postings were people are sharing.
The process is straight forward. Boil sugar and water add the tea and create a strong brew. Let the sweat tea cool and strain if using loose leaf. Add to your scoby, cover and let sit in a fairly warm and dark place for about two weeks. You can then add fruit juices, different herbs or flavors. After the whole process you should be left with a fizzy, slightly vinegary drink. You will notice on bottled Kombucha that you buy in the store that it contains alcohol. This is true but most have very small amounts of alcohol due to the natural fermentation process. During fermentation, glycolysis (the chemical breakdown of glucose and lactic acid) produces ethanol. Then the bacteria in the SCOBY use the ethanol to produce vinegar. And that's why you get that initial sour smell and taste. However, like with any home fermentation, pickling or preserving always be careful and clean when preparing it because you want to foster good bacteria no bad. So if you start the process and your preparation looks like it has beadlike mold or if it doesn’t smell vinegary you should probably start again.
So you may be wondering what is this good for me? Well the fermentation process produces a lot of beneficial bacteria that are great and vital for our gut health. Doing a home brew is especially nice for this because you get the added benefit of your local microbes, basically your Kombucha is more personalized for your microbiome. A second benefit is that if you use green tea to brew your tea you also get the benefits of the antioxidants and properties of the green tea, some say that it even enhances these properties. It is also said that it can help kill off bad bacteria that can be in the gut due to the acetic acid that is produced during the fermentation process. There are also a few studies out there that say it may help reduce cholesterol, help with weight loss and reduce cancer risk. So if the studies are true it would appear that this alien looking beverage can do us a lot of good.
What do you think about Kombucha? Love it or hate it?