Kombucha! One of my favorite things! I absolutely love kombucha. and if you’ve tried it, you probably love it, too. I’ve met very few people that don’t like it. Here’s everything you need to know about kombucha?
How To Pronounce Kombucha
Let’s start with the basics, the very basics. What is it and how do I say it?? From Oxford Dictionaries:
- Syllabification: kom-bu-cha
- Pronunciation: kômˈbo͞oCHə
- noun: A beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria: bottled kombucha is available in many natural food stores
- Origin: Japanese konbucha, literally ‘kelp tea’; the origin of the English meaning, which is not found in Japanese, is unclear and may reflect a development in another language.
What Does Kombucha Taste Like?
One word: DELICIOUS! Kombucha is fermented tea. How long it ferments and the fermenting conditions (temperature, light, etc.) will alter the final taste. Longer fermenting periods result in a more vinegary, more carbonated drink. Shorter times will result in a sweeter, more mild drink. I like mine very fermented and very vinegary. After the first fermentation, you can then flavor the kombucha with fruit juice. The juice flavors it, but the kombucha will not taste like juice. It will taste like vinegary, fermented, carbonated, flavored tea….or soda. But not sweet like soda. There’s really nothing like it.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha is excellent for your digestive health and immune system. It is full of enzymes, vitamins, antioxidants, beneficial yeast, beneficial bacteria, and probiotics (read about probiotics here). Here’s a list of some of the benefits you will have from drinking your daily cup of kombucha:
- Improves immune system
- High in antioxidants
- Boosts energy & increases metabolism (that’s right. Put down the Red Bull & grab some kombucha!)
- Detoxes your gut and liver (the good probiotic bacteria help purge the bad, disease & illness causing bacteria)
- Improves digestion & relieves constipation
- Improves circulation
- Balances pH levels
- Relieves arthritis pain
- Reduces blood pressure
- Improves eyesight
What About The Caffeine, Sugar, and Alcohol?
Tea does have caffeine and I use black tea, which has more caffeine than green tea. If you prefer less caffeine, use green tea. The fermentation process does reduce the amount of caffeine by about 1/3. It’s important to note that the majority of the energy boost you get from kombucha is from the high content of vitamin B, not from the caffeine (although that does help!).
I do add a whole cup of sugar per gallon of kombucha. That’s what the scoby eats. The longer you ferment your kombucha, the less sugar it will have. I let mine ferment for about 2 weeks. The result is a vinegary, not sweet tea. I then add juice to flavor and sweeten it. So the amount of sugar in your kombucha depends on how long you ferment it and the kind of juice you add (if any).
The fermentation process produces a small trace amount of alcohol. Less than 0.1%.
Is Kombucha Safe For Kids?
So is kombucha safe for kids? As mentioned above, it does contain caffeine, sugar, and alcohol in small amounts. This is a parenting decision you can make. For me, the benefits of kombucha are great. And the side effects of kombucha are rare. My 19 month old son started drinking kombucha last month at 18 months old. He loves it, I love him drinking it, and I will continue to give it to him. I do give it to him in small amounts (about 5 oz. about 3 times a week). You can dilute your kombucha with water if desired.
How To Brew Kombucha
You can buy kombucha pretty much anywhere. Grocery stores, health food stores, here. But that’s gonna run you about $4 a bottle. Making kombucha at home costs pennies. There’s a small investment to get your initial supplies (scoby, bottles, etc). But after that, it’s just tea bags and sugar. Here’s what you need:
- Kombucha starter kit OR just the scoby. The scoby (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria & Yeast) is also called a kombucha mushroom. You only need 1 scoby to start. Your scoby will produce new baby scoby with each brew. So after a few batches, you will have lots of scoby to share with friends & family (or you could brew dozens of gallons at a time!). As long as you properly care for your scoby, you can reuse it and it never dies.
- Gallon size jar like this one. It is important that it is glass – no metal or plastic anywhere on your container. If you brew more than one batch at a time, you will need more of these. I currently brew 2 at a time, but my 19 month old son LOVES kombucha and I think as he gets older & drinks more, I’ll need to increase that to 3 or 4 batches at a time.
- Tea bags – I use black tea. You can use green tea for a milder flavor. I use 5 tea bags per gallon. Organic tea is best (less chemicals & fluoride that could harm your scoby).
- Organic pure cane sugar – This is what your scoby eats (this and the caffeine from the tea). Yes, it has to be organic pure cane sugar. No substitutions. Use 1 cup per gallon.
- Filtered, non-chlorinated water – Your scoby does not like chlorine.
- A white towel or old tshirt to cover your jar while fermenting and a rubber band to secure it.
- Juice (optional) – Any flavor, store bought, fresh squeezed, anything goes.
- Bottles for the finished product. You can use mason jars, swing top bottles, or reuse glass bottles from other products (this is what I do. I save & sterilize pretty much every glass jar that comes through my kitchen.).
- Bring 2/3 of a gallon of water to a boil in a large pot.
- Add 1 cup of sugar. Stir until dissolved.
- Remove the pot from heat.
- Add 5 tea bags.
- Let steep until COMPLETELY cool*.
- Pour the tea into a gallon size glass jar.
- Add your starter liquid**.
- Fill your gallon jar to the top with filtered water.
- Add your scoby.
- Cover with a white hand towel or old tshirt. Secure with a rubberband.
- Store in a dark place for 1-2 weeks.
- Remove the scoby and preserve a few cups of starter liquid***.
- Run the kombucha through a strainer
- Pour into bottles. Leave about an inch of air at the top.
- Add a few tablespoons of juice per 16 oz bottle (if desired, optional)****.
- If you added juice, store in a dark place for 2-3 days (this is your 2nd fermentation)*****.
- Your kombucha is ready to drink or store in the fridge.
- *It is very important that you let the water cool completely before you add the scoby. Hot and warm water will harm your scoby.
- **The starter liquid is preserved from your last batch. If this is your 1st batch, use store bought kombucha.
- ***Your scoby will have a baby scoby attached. You can leave them together for a few brews, or separate them after each brew. I let the baby grow for 2-3 batches, then separate them to make 2 scoby.
- ****You can use any flavor of good quality (preferable organic) juice. It can be store bought or fresh squeezed.
- *****This is the 2nd fermentation. The juice will sweeten your kombucha and it will become fizzier & more carbonated. This is an optional step. You can leave your kombucha unflavored without juice.
Separating Your Scoby
A new baby scoby forms with each brew. I leave the baby on the original scoby for 2-3 brews to let it grow, then separate them. You can separate them at any time. Just pull them apart. Share extra scoby with friends & family or make scoby snacks!
Read more about kombucha here:
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