Let me first explain why i was intrigued by this mystical drink!
Why would you want to try komboucha tea?! Here’s how I discovered the weird brew and became an addict!
For years I was plagued with eczema all up the back of my legs as well as weird unexplained rashes and hives. Completely at my wits end, the doctor prescribed a long list of medications I’d never heard of but knew was not a solution, more like a band aid. I decided to look into my diet when I had stumbled across Komboucha Tea. To start with, I was pretty weirded out! When my boyfriend and I brewed our first batch we argued about who was going to taste it first. “Not me” he gallantly offered…”Not me” I squeaked! But being the guy he is, Kris ended up trying it first. His face was one of shock because we had read so many things online saying it tasted terrible etc. He said it tastes a little like apple cider … I still couldn’t believe him as I thought he was winding me up but once I tried it I myself was in shock what was everyone talking about? We loved it and I could tell already this was not going to be a chore for us to drink at all.
So how did this drink come about and is it only a drink for hipsters?
Ha ha no in fact it’s been drunk for centuries and rumour has it got its name from a physician named Kombou who healed a Japanese emperor. Komboucha literally translates “Kombou“ the physicians name and “cha” meaning “tea”. Pronounced “kom-boo-cha”
“The Booch” has many different names around the world. In China, they call it “immortal elixir” and in Russia they call it “tea kvass”. In fact, after a brief chat with my mother, she told me she could remember my great grandmother brewing it in Scotland when she was a little girl. It’s been touted to have immense health benefits with some even going as far as to say it can cure cancer and arthritis, however there aren’t many scientific studies proving this as it needs to be funded independently here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2208084?dopt=Abstract
So what the hell is komboucha tea?
The tea is made by brewing one cup of sugar with five to six green or black tea bags. Once your tea mixture is cool, you add your starter culture or SCOBY and some starter tea. (You can also grow one out of the raw komboucha tea itself by saving some of your store bought and adding to cooled sugary tea mix.) I know, I know it’s starting to sound a little complicated right? Ha ha! Stay with me, it’s totally worth it!
The starter culture used in making komboucha tea is called a “SCOBY” which stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”. It kinda of looks like a giant mushroom or a jellyfish but it is actually colony of living bacteria. The SCOBY feeds on the sugar and caffeine leaving behind a plethora of goodness.
Lots of people falsely believe that Komboucha Tea is probiotic but this simply isn’t true as laboratory testing has proven. The confusion comes from the store bought Komboucha which adds laboratory probiotic strains to their tea at bottling. They often refer to these as proprietary, which cannot be a claim of wild strains of LABS. The health benefit’s in Komboucha come from the “organic acids” and the” yeasts”
Here’s what Sara Nelson Miller over at the fermentation group had to say on the matter “The definition of probiotic is: Live micro organisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Probiotics don’t nessecarily need to be LABS, but almost all probiotics that have been discovered are LABS. There is one probiotic yeast (Saccharomyces boulardii) but it isn’t naturally occurring in Komboucha
This is a picture of my SCOBY(Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast).
I don’t know why we all get weirded out by bacteria so much as we are made of bacteria and this could be the key to the very thing lacking in todays modern diet.
How can komboucha help your health?
1) Komboucha can help by aiding digestion
It does this by lowering your PH, which helps to support stomach acid.
2) Komboucha can aid weight loss
It does this by reducing sugar cravings and some say it works to beat off pre meal hunger. Because the bacterium eats the sugar in the beverage, it contains way less sugar than commercial sodas do.
3) Komboucha can help to heal and reverse diabetes due to liver protecting and healing qualities http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591682
4) Studies have also shown it can help protect the body from enviromental pollutants and even radiation.
5)Some drinkers claim it helps with arthritis below is an abstract from the book “Komboucha Teaology” with testimonies from sufferers who drank komboucha tea click here
6) How komboucha has been proven to help fight cancer
For an in depth breakdown of komboucha bacteria please see here
When brewing komboucha, you want to be careful of the vessel you choose to use as some older pots contain lead based paints which can end up in your finished product.
I always like to use a glass container which has a plastic tap on the side( you can kind of see it in the background of the picture above) It is also important that you don’t use a metal container as there are mixed reviews on the matter, however stainless steel has shown to not break down or damage the SCOBY in any way, so if your tap is metal it will be fine as long as it is stainless steel. There are also special ceramic komboucha pot’s available online but be careful to check its age as I said above some of the older ones contain lead based paints.
Prior to brewing you will need:
- A rubber band to fit around the top of the jar tightly.
- A cloth or a coffee filter (this is to allow the culture to breathe and also to keep insects out.)
- Some organic green or black tea (around 5-6 bags) as you don’t want pesticides or bleach killing your SCOBY or ending up in your final brew.
- Sugar. I like to use “rapajura sugar” because if any ends up in the final product I don’t mind consuming some of that. Although some use cane sugar etc.
- Some filtered water as we don’t want the chlorine from the water and other contaminates as these can also kill the SCOBY.
Your brew can take anywhere between 7 – 30 days. The longer you brew it, the less sugar the komboucha will contain and the more vinegar or sour taste it will have. The heat of your house will also effect how quickly your tea will ferment. I find my brew ferments quite quickly in summer and takes much longer in winter
Always make sure that you really rinse and dry your jar really well to ensure there is no soap residue as this will kill your SCOBY. I even herd mixed reviews about where you should store your jar. Some say the dark, some say it doesn’t matter. Mine sits quite happily on the counter top; its not in direct sunlight but it’s not in complete darkness either.
The only way for you to know if your brew is ready is to taste test a little bit each day to see if you like the flavour. If you get a batch that has gone beyond your taste liking don’t throw it use it in place of apple cider vinegar in recipes slightly different flavour but does the job equally as well. Alternatively give your trees, dog or chooks a treat! I think one teaspoon of Komboucha into the dogs water they love it!
BASIC KOMBOUCHA TEA RECIPE
You will need:
- 1 komboucha starter kit http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-tea-starter-kit.html
- 6 organic black or green tea bags
- 1 cup of Sugar (I use Rapajura)
- filtered water (chlorine and contaminates from tap water can kill your culture)
- one large glass jar
- a piece of cheese cloth or breathable fabric with no holes to stop insects getting in
- a rubber band to secure the cloth over the jar
Method to your madness!
- Brew your organic tea with the filtered water
- Stir in the sugar and allow to cool completely (remember placing the SCOBY in when the mixture is too hot will kill the lil guy.)
- Remove the tea bags once tea is cool
- Pop your tea/sugar mixture into your prepared glass jar
- Add your SCOBY and your starter liquid that came with it
- Cover and place somewhere reasonably warm where it wont be disturbed to much
Things to consider
From day 6 you can start taste testing. Don’t be scared as I said should taste like a sour apple cider.
If sugar is a concern for you because of candida you can let it brew for up to 30 days but by this stage it will be a lot more sour and more vinegar like. I personally think day 7 in summer and sometimes as long as 3 weeks in winter when the house is colder.
From day 7 your SCOBY should have produced another version of its self that you can either give away to friends or start another batch with the new baby SCOBY This should happen every 7 days you can rip them apart gently. A word of warning when the Komboucha form its baby it can look like mold growing on the top. Don’t stress! If you are unsure, leave it a few more days without touching it. If it is a SCOBY it should start to thicken up.
If it is mold it will turn green or black or even look fuzzy. If you get a moldy batch please don’t consume it you will need to bin the whole batch and start again using a fresh scoby.
Good luck Komboucha newbies!!
Since doing further research of my own I have personally decided to only use black tea as I’m not comfortable with the study below which shows how green tea is showing signs of caesium after the Fukushima disaster. Please click here for study
Recipe to follow for the pic below which is
“Ginger Lemon and Thyme Komboucha”