Kombucha tea is a traditional, fermented beverage that has been consumed for thousands of years, and is thought to originate in China or Japan. It has made a come back in recent years, as we learn more about its many health benefits, not to mention its delicious taste. In this article, we will dig into some of kombucha’s many benefits, and look at how easy it is to make right in your own kitchen.
Fermented foods and beverages have been made in many cultures around the world for centuries, as their probiotic properties are incredibly important for optimal health. Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria, and are essential for proper digestion, immune support, and more. Kombucha tea is made by combining specific strains of good bacteria, sugar and yeast to a tea (typically green or black), and allowing it to ferment. This fermentation process produces a probiotic-rich drink.
Good levels of healthy good bacteria can help to cool systemic inflammation, and even promote weight loss.
Contains All the Benefits Of Green Tea
Kombucha tea is often high in antioxidants, especially if a green tea is used. Green tea contains highly beneficial compounds such a polyphenols, which help to fight free radical damage in the body. Green tea has also been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels, balance blood sugar, and reduce belly fat.
As mentioned above, free radicals are potentially dangerous, reactive molecules that are known to damage cells, and are a contributor to cancer cell proliferation. Antioxidants are key in fighting these molecules, and are found in certain foods (primarily bright colored plant foods, such as berries). One study shows that antioxidants from foods are more beneficial than antioxidants in supplement form. Some studies on rats suggest that kombucha tea might even reduce liver toxicity.
Improve Blood Cholesterol Levels
Especially if green tea is used (but also if it is not), kombucha has proven to protect LDL cholesterol particles (“bad” cholesterol) from oxidation, which can put you at serious risk of heart disease.
Quick Note On Preparation
Before getting into instructions on how to make kombucha, it is important to remember that improperly prepared kombucha, or a batch that has been over-fermented can potentially be harmful. Store bought kombucha products generally contain less than 0.5% alcohol, while homemade tea can often contain up to 3%, so might not be appropriate for children or pregnant women.
HOW TO MAKE KOMBUCHA TEA
- First and foremost, you will need what is called a scoby, which will allow you to start your batch of kombucha. Scobys are actually colonies of bacteria and are living, so must be acquired from another person who is also making kombucha. If you have a friend who already brews their own tea, you can simply ask for an extra scoby, as every batch of kombucha produces extra. Or, you can purchase one from an online source, such as Kombucha Kamp. The good news is that once you obtain the scoby, the rest is easy!
- You will need a large, glass gallon mason jar with a wide neck. Make sure it is completely clean. You can purchase these at your local health food store, a container store, or online.
- To begin actually preparing your kombucha, you’ll first need to brew about one gallon of tea with sugar added (the sugar allows the tea to ferment). For each gallon of water, you will add one cup of sugar. You can use any type of sugar, except for honey.
- The type of tea you decide on depends largely on your taste preference. A green or black is ideal, but if you’d like it to contain less caffeine, opt for a white tea (still contains caffeine, but a very small amount). You can do a plain green or black tea and later choose to add other flavors, or you can choose an already flavored tea, such as chai.
- Add one gallon of water to a big pot, and begin to boil. Once your water is boiling, add 8-10 regular tea bags and one cup of sugar. Stir the sugar so that it dissolves completely, and allow tea to steep for about ten minutes, and then turn off heat and allow tea to cool completely. Remember, adding hot tea to your scoby will kill the living bacteria, so patience here is key.
- Add your cooled tea to the glass mason jar, adding about one cup of pre-made kombucha (either from a previous batch or from a store-bought version).
- Next, wash your hands and place the scoby into the jar. It might float or sink to the bottom, either way is fine.
- Using a clean cloth (even an old t-shirt works), cover your mason jar and secure it tightly with a rubber band.
- Place your tea in a warm part of your house (ideally around 70-75 degrees, but if this isn’t possible, it shouldn’t be problem), and allow it to sit for about one week. If your house is cooler, it might need more time, and if it is warmer, it might be done sooner. To test, simply take a sip through a straw. Your tea should taste slightly sour (acidic), but also somewhat sweet.
- Once your tea is done, remove the scoby and use it to make the next batch (if you’d like, or share with a friend), and the remaining tea is ready to drink. Remember to keep it sealed.
For Flavored Kombucha:
Once your kombucha tea is done fermenting and the scoby as been removed, you can choose to flavor it with either fresh fruit or fruit juice (preferably fresh, not from concentrate). If you want to flavor your tea, you probably want to opt for a plain tea option in the beginning.
Fresh or frozen fruit: Use 70% kombucha and 30% fruit (less if you prefer a more mild taste).
Fresh fruit juice: 80% kombucha and 20% fruit juice.
Get creative with your combinations! Once you have the process down, the beauty of kombucha tea is that it is quite simple to make, and you can experiment with different flavors. Not only will you be providing your body with some serious nutritional benefits, but you will have a delicious beverage to drink with or between meals. Enjoy!