Kombucha is a fermented tea brewed from a starter SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). It has loads of healthy bacteria and yeast needed by the body for proper gut health. The probiotics in Kombucha work in a similar way to the acidophilus cultures in yogurt, but it contains a different variety of beneficial bacteria.
Kombucha is also supposed to help with detox of heavy metals in the body though there have been no studies to prove or disprove any of these health claims.
It tastes kind of nasty, but I force myself to drink it because I can tell a huge difference when I’m drinking it. I started drinking it several years ago when a friend gave me a starter SCOBY. After a few weeks, I noticed I could eat things that had previously upset my stomach without any issues. I knew it was good for gut health which is why I started drinking it, but I was very surprised when I went a whole winter without any eczema at all. That was not something I expected.
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I let my SCOBY die one year when I went on vacation and forgot to start a brew when I got back. A SCOBY is a living culture and must be fed on a regular basis to continue. Extreme heat or extreme cold can also damage the SCOBY. After over a year of not drinking it, I recently ordered another SCOBY from Amazon.
I was actually worried that it would not survive the transport because it shipped during the coldest spell we’ve had this season, but it brewed perfectly. You can see the new SCOBY that forms on top during the brewing process. My kids call the SCOBY “the baby octopus.” My son won’t even go near it. I tried to get him to carry a jar with an extra SCOBY over to my mom’s house, so she could start her own brew, and my son would not touch the jar. He butchers deer and hogs every year, but he gags at the sight of the SCOBY.
You can also buy bottled Kombucha in health food and grocery stores, but it’s usually around $3-$5 a bottle, and I definitely could not afford to drink it daily at that rate.
Even though it’s fermented, the alcohol content of Kombucha is a trace amount similar to regular apple juice. The ethanol breaks down differently than in the brewing process of alcoholic beverages, so it’s considered non-alcoholic.
** It should be clearly noted that I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Nothing stated here should ever be taken as medical advice. All information about Kombucha is based entirely on my own research and my own personal experience with it, and others should do their own research before consuming any food or beverage.
These are a couple of helpful articles if you would like to find out more about Kombucha:
- The Many Benefits of Kombucha – WellnessMama (WellnessMama gives a great breakdown of the exact microbes and nutritional information for Kombucha.)
- Kombucha and Kefirs: Hype or Healthy? by Ashley Koff – Huffington Post (Koff offers a nice comparison or Kombucha and a variety of Kefirs.)
How to Brew Kombucha
You will need:
- a one-gallon glass jar (It was cheaper to buy a gallon of pickles to get a gallon jar than buying a plain gallon jar.)
- one large stockpot
- 6 tea bags (I used 2 green tea, 2 black tea, and 2 flavored fruit tea – blueberry pomegranate.)
- 2 cups of sugar
- additional jars for storage
The brewing jar must be glass! Because of the detoxifying properties of Kombucha and the high acid content, it can leach any toxins out of ceramic or plastic jars. There have been some very rare instances of lead poisoning when individuals have brewed in ceramic crocks with lead glaze.
I know 2 cups of sugar seems like a lot, but most of that sugar is spent during the fermentation process. Kombucha is actually a fairly low-calorie beverage.
I start by adding 3 quarts of water to a large stockpot. The sugar and tea bags are added to the water before it comes to a boil. You want both the sugar and tea to be boiled because you want the tea that goes into your jar to be completely free of foreign bacteria. Your glass jar also needs to be completely clean. I run mine in my dishwasher with my other dishes on the hot wash setting.
Bring the water, sugar, and tea bags to full boil and continue to boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the burner. Remove the tea bags with a clean utensil. Then carefully pour the extremely hot tea into your clean gallon jar. I do this over the sink.
Cover the jar with a clean, breathable, natural cloth attached by a rubberband. Do not use a towel. Do not use polyester. The cloth is used to protect the tea from insects or foreign matter. The material must be a cotton fabric or a scrap from a white t-shirt that will allow the tea to breathe. The tea is a living thing. It must breathe.
Set the covered jar of hot tea aside. DO NOT ADD THE SCOBY TO THE TEA WHILE IT IS HOT! Heat will kill the SCOBY. The tea must be cooled to room temperature before the SCOBY is added.
Always work with clean hands and clean materials/utensils! You are growing a healthy culture of bacteria and yeast. You do not want to accidentally introduce an unhealthy foreign mold or bacteria in the process with careless hygiene.
Adding the SCOBY
Once the tea is cooled to room temperature, you can add the SCOBY using clean hands and cover again. The jar of brew must be stored away from direct sunlight. It’s better in a warmish, darkish place. I have mine on the counter beside the refrigerator now because all my cabinets are full of my hoarding. People who have the space to do so usually store it in a cabinet to keep it out of the way.
It generally takes about 14 days for a batch to brew. Less time brewing means a sweeter tea. More time means a more vinegary tea. I wouldn’t leave it longer than 21 days because if it runs out of sugar completely, the SCOBY will die. And it needs to brew for at least 7 days to give it time to ferment and grow the new baby SCOBY. At 14 days, it’s usually pretty tart but still drinkable.
Once your brew is ready, you need to move the mother SCOBY and baby SCOBY to a smaller glass jar. You could also separate the two if you will be giving one away. Just make sure to pour 1/2 cup to 1 cup of the Kombucha into each storage jar. If you won’t be starting a new brew for a while, you need to boil a single cup of tea with a few spoonfuls of sugar to feed the SCOBY while you are storing it. If you will start a new batch of tea within a few days, you can just store the SCOBY covered with a bit of the Kombucha.
Once you have removed the mother and the baby SCOBY, you need to pour the Kombucha into some sort of glass container(s) and store it in the refrigerator. I use canning jars with the plastic lids. Kombucha always needs to be held in glass because of the previously mentioned issues with leaching toxins out of plastics. The plastic lids are fine because they don’t come in contact with the tea itself.
The tea will last a couple of weeks in the fridge. If you make your own yogurt, there are a lot of similarities between brewing Kombucha and making yogurt.
Kombucha and Yogurt
Like any other probiotic substance, it can initially upset your stomach if you consume a lot when you’re not used to it. I started out drinking a few ounces a day and worked my way up when I started brewing years ago. It did make my stomach hurt a little bit then.
This time I drank about 4 ounces the first day and then 8 ounces the next day without any noticeable issues. I’ve been making my own yogurt for almost a year and consuming that daily, so my gut is probably in a better condition than it was the last time.
I make my own yogurt in my Instant Pot.
Making my own yogurt is the only way I can control the amount of sugar and get yogurt made from whole milk. There’s some pretty compelling research suggesting fully-fatted dairy products lower the chance of diabetes. Once again we find a food product that is the healthiest in the state that is closest to the way God created it. You can read more about the skim milk obesity/diabetes connection in Medical Daily’s Whole Milk And Full-Fat Dairy May Help You Maintain Weight, Reduce Diabetes Risk.
Kombucha and yogurt both provide the digestive tract with the good bacteria needed to maintain healthy gut flora and keep the bad bacteria in check. Neither one is a magic cure-all. They’re just two very simple dietary additions that can contribute to better overall digestive health. I feel much better when I’m including them in my diet. I saw very noticeable results in the foods I was able to consume without getting an upset stomach after drinking Kombucha for a few weeks, and I believe Kombucha was also responsible for the elimination of eczema for me.
Have you made any simple dietary changes and been able to see/feel noticeable results?
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