What is Kombucha?
By now, it’s nearly impossible you haven’t seen it in stores, on shelves, or along your social media timeline. Without contest, kombucha is the beverage of the hour. Loaded with good-for-you bacteria, what originated as the Chinese “immortal health elixir” is now the talk of the town. Kombucha is a fermented tea made from a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or more commonly known as a SCOBY. A force in its own right, the SCOBY houses the many fortifying bacteria and yeast, taking your tea from sweet and soothing to powerfully nutritive.
Why is it good for you?
DYK your gut is home to nearly 80% of your immune system, earning it the title of “second brain”? Keeping it in check is no easy feat. A balanced gut requires a number of nutrients. These can come from foods rich in healthy carbs, fats and proteins, but most importantly from “good” bacteria. These, dubbed “probiotics”, are responsible for inhibiting the ill-disposed “bad” bacteria at the helm of your digestive issues.
Kombucha to the rescue
Kombucha is rich in probiotics due to its fermentation process. This technique naturally spawns B vitamins, digestive enzymes, and most importantly, good bacteria. These good bacteria have been shown to be great for your brain and gut, and immune system and provide serious support to your digestive tract. Among the probiotic strains in kombucha, two of the most potent are:
Found in more than 85% of kombucha tested, this strain is known to produce glucaric acid₁, which may inhibit the disease-causing enzyme beta-glucuronidase.
This powerhouse bacterium produces lactase, the enzyme responsible for helping us break down dairy. Lactobacillus also reduces the amount of pathogens in the digestive tract, provides relief from IBS, Crohn’s Disease, and gut dysbiosis, and has been found in nearly 30% of the kombucha samples tested.
But that’s not all!The average 16-ounce bottle of kombucha contains:
- 100 micrograms of folate (20% of RDA)
- 0.34 grams of riboflavin/B2 (20% of RDA)
- 0.4 milligrams of B6 (20% of RDA)
- 0.3 milligrams of thiamine/B1 (20% of RDA)
- 4 milligrams of niacin/B3 (20% of RDA)
- 1.2 micrograms of B12 (20% RDA of RDA)
- In addition to all of these, kombucha is also detoxifying, containing powerful acids that bind toxins in the liver and eliminate them through the kidneys. This helps relieve the pancreas, and can helps keep your liver healthy.
So, how do you make it?
- Quart-sized glass jar
- Wooden spatula
- Something for cover your jar, such as a coffee filter or cheesecloth
- Rubber band
- A SCOBY. You can purchase one online or borrow one from a friend. Otherwise, you may use any brand of unflavoured premade kombucha tea (as the active SCOBY already exists within it)
- 3 cups of unfluoridated, unchlorinated water
- ½ cup of distilled white vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoon of loose, black tea
- ¼ cup of cane sugar
- 1 cup of fresh fruit of your choice, for flavouring
- ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
If you don’t have a premade SCOBY
Brew 1 cup of tea and remove from stove once steeped. Once cooled, pour cold tea and premade kombucha into jar. Cover with coffee filter and secure with rubber band. Use a coffee filter to let oxygen in and out, as the SCOBY needs to breathe in order for it to grow. Put in a warm, sunless place, undisturbed, for 7 days. After about a week, your baby SCOBY should have formed across the top of your tea. This will appear as a small blob and will slowly become whiter in colour. Once a small SCOBY is observed, leave for an additional 20 days, or until the SCOBY has reached ¼ inch in thickness.
If you do have a dehydrated SCOBY
- Put hot water and sugar into your jar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Steep the tea in sugar water.
- Allow the liquid to cool. Leave the tea bag in for 10-15 minutes, depending on strength preference. The longer you steep the tea, the stronger your kombucha will be.
- Once you’ve removed your tea, add the distilled vinegar.
- Add active SCOBY to mixture.
- Cover the jar with coffee filter and secure with rubber band. Leave in a warm, sunless place for 7-30 days.
Note: the longer the kombucha is left, the less sweet it becomes
- Once ready, remove SCOBY and pour drink into bottles.
- At a 30/70 ratio, add fruit and vanilla extract to kombucha.
- Seal bottle and place in fridge for 3 days. This will allow the bacteria to feed off the sugar, creating carbonation!
- When you are ready to enjoy your tea, remove bottle from fridge, and with a cloth, gently loosen lid to release gas.
- Axe, Dr. J. (2014, February). 8 Reasons To Drink Kombucha Everyday. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/7-reasons-drink-kombucha-everyday/
- Cultures for Health. (2016, April). How to Make Kombucha. Retrieved from https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/kombucha/how-to-make-kombucha/
- Cultures for Health. (2016, April). Obtaining a Mother Kombucha Scoby. Retrieved from https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/kombucha/obtaining-a-kombucha-scoby/
- Jacqueline, R. (2015, April). Does fermented drink kombucha actually have health benefits? Retrieved from http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health-beauty/article/1772186/does-fermented-drink-kombucha-actually-have-health-benefits
- Organic Facts. (2018, February). 16 Impressive Benefits of Drinking Kombucha Tea. Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/health-benefits-of-kombucha.html
- Sonnenburg, J and Erica (2015, May). Gut Feelings – the “Second Brain” in Our Gastrointestinal Systems [Excerpt]. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-feelings-the-second-brain-in-our-gastrointestinal-systems-excerpt/