Kombucha: The Champagne of Ferments


Today we're continuing our series on fermented foods, and lucky for me, we're discussing my absolute favorite ferment: kombucha (pronounced: com-boo-cha)! Really, I am actually a little giddy - there is just no comparison. Kombucha is the champagne of ferments because it's utterly delicious and satisfying. It is the queen of fermentation because it fits in with every meal and any time of day. Oh! It's a win-win all around being delectable, affordable, and easy to brew.

The SCOBY that ferments the tea
Kombucha is a traditional Chinese fermented tea drink.  I know. You’re probably thinking, “In what world does fermented tea taste good?” Trust me. Kombucha will soon (and easily) win over your heart, as it has mine. Are you still drinking soda? Kombucha is your answer. Do you find yourself dehydrated and still not drinking enough water throughout the day? Kombucha is the answer. You don’t want to pay for expensive health store probiotics, but you’re having digestive problems? Kombucha is the answer. Alright, you get my drift. We’ll take a look at why this drink may be the answer to your woes, but first, let’s start at the very beginning.
Kombucha is a dairy-free probiotic drink made from three simple ingredients - tea, sugar, and water. It is slightly sweet with a tangy taste, and is often quite bubbly, which makes it a great replacement for soda. It is fermented using a SCOBY, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY looks like a cross between a mushroom and a jellyfish. It’s slippery and smooth on one side, and generally has strings of bacteria on its bottom side. Like most fermented drinks that use a culture (like kefir grains), the SCOBY will grow and multiply. The SCOBY, itself, is often referred to as the “mother,” and when it produces a whole new SCOBY, that is referred to as the “baby,” which then eventually becomes a mother, too. Creating kombucha in your own home is a bit like doing a science experiment. Children are completely intrigued; and I have to admit, it’s a very simple, yet quite fascinating process.

History of Kombucha
Legends abound when it comes to finding the origin of this fermented drink. We do know that kombucha has been around for centuries, even a few millennia. One story states that the tea was invented for Emperor Qinshi Huangdi back in 220 BC. The Chinese are famous for their longevity elixirs, and often made use of nature to heal their ills. They referred to kombucha as the “Tea of Immortality.”
Fast forward several hundreds years and we find that it has made its way to Russia, and then, eventually Europe. Its use during World War II was halted due to sugar and tea being rationed; however, after the war, kombucha regained its popularity. In more recent years, kombucha has become common in the United States; there is even rumor it was drunk daily by Ronald Reagan during his presidency. 
Why Should We Drink Kombucha?

Mmm... bubbly!
The standard American diet (SAD) is in terrible shape; you probably don’t need me to tell you that. This blog was created in response to this sad state of affairs - moreso, because many people just don't know what diet is best for them and their family. Fortunately, traditional foods that are nutrient dense, fermented, sprouted, raw, and so on are making their way back onto the dinner table - and for good reason! The motto, “You are what you eat,” is finally being understood by the American people. It is time to make better food choices for ourselves and our family, so that we can truly live healthy and full lives. 
As a reader of this blog, you are likely familiar with the work of Dr. Weston A. Price and that traditional cultures all ate fermented foods. Remember reading the post, Fermented Food for Beginners? In this post we described six reasons why including fermented foods in your diet is beneficial. All those reasons apply to kombucha. But, we can also take a closer look at the particular advantages to consuming this fermented drink. 

Kombucha is purported to have a multitude of benefits and healing properties. As a fermented food we know that it contains a plethora of gut-friendly bacteria. Throughout its fermentation process B vitamins are created in a form that is easily absorbed by our bodies. Kombucha is high in antioxidants, which means it helps to prevent cancer in our bodies by attacking free radicals. It is also high in polyphenols, which help decrease inflammation. Kombucha has also gained reputation for cleansing the liver, improving the skin, hair, and nails, reducing blood pressure, and aiding healthy cell regeneration.
More research could definitely be done on the effects and benefits of kombucha. However, since it cannot be patented or controlled by any pharmaceutical company, there is not much money available to perform clinical trials and wide-scale research. There are a few people who have collected research over the years, including: Gunther Frank, Michael Roussin, and Ed Kasper. Looking into their work would be well worth the time, I’m sure.
Brewing Your Own Kombucha
My husband and I started brewing kombucha this past fall, and we love it! In my experience, I feel much better when I drink it, as it helps my gut to digest the food I eat. It is also a great method for hydration. You can find raw kombucha in the stores, but a 16 oz bottle costs around $4.00! Brewing kombucha at home is, comparatively, quite frugal.
One last point to address is the alcohol conundrum. There is some question about how much alcohol is contained within kombucha being that it is a fermented drink. Companies that sell kombucha in stores are actually required to test the alcohol content. The kombucha does contain alcohol, but it's in such small amounts that it isn't even required to be sold as an alcoholic beverage. The estimates of alcohol content are around 0.5%. Many pregnant women, who were already used to consuming kombucha, continue drinking during pregnancy for the vitamins and probiotics this wonderful drink provides. Of course, as the drinker, it is up to you to decide what is best for you and your family.
Join me in my next post as I give you a photo tutorial on how to brew kombucha in your own home.


This was entered into Nourishing Gourmet's Pennywise Platter.

6 comments:

  1. I made this almost two weeks ago but my mother scoby did not make a baby. Can I reuse my mother scoby and make another batch?

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    1. It usually takes several brewings for a baby to be made. The mother SCOBY can be used indefinitely and will continue producing offspring. We've been brewing since the fall and our baby just finally detached from the mother this past week. You'll start to see the mother producing what looks just like another layer. As you continue brewing over the months it will continue to enlarge until it detaches from the original SCOBY. Then that's your baby!

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    2. Oh great. It is a thick SCOBY so I wondered what was going on. It must be expecting. Tee hee hee. Also, I used blackstrap molasses in mine. Is that not needed? Or what do you think about that? I think it is for added iron - but I could be making that up. :) I was about to ask more questions but I think your next post may answer those so I'll wait. :)

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  2. Glad I found this! A friend just gave me a scoby and I'm starting my first batch of kombucha today. :)

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    1. That's great, Elise! I hope you have a great kombucha-making experience! Let us know how it goes for you!

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  3. Great post! I just started rehydrating my starter last week. I can't wait to start brewing real Kombucha!!

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