What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a tart, refreshingly fizzy drink made from tea. It has ancient origins, and contains healthy probiotics and vitamins. Many believe it has health benefits for the digestive system, as well as detoxifying properties.
Kombucha is made by adding bacterial culture (known as SCOBY) and yeast to black or green tea. Acids then form in the drink in a process known as fermentation. It is similar to how cabbage is preserved as kimchi or sauerkraut, or how milk is transformed into yogurt.
With the same health benefits as tea, kombucha is also full of probiotics, and can lower inflammation and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. The probiotic strains Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum have been shown to reduce levels of depression and anxiety in individuals with clinical depression. Some believe kombucha can treat diseases such as arthritis and heartburn. Kombucha also contains helpful antioxidants, which may protect your cells against free radicals. If you’re unfamiliar, free radicals play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
The SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) bacteria and yeast consume most of the sugar in the drink, transforming the tea into a beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar. It contains a little bit of alcohol as a by-product of the fermentation process, usually no more than one percent.
The “tea of immortality” is believed to have originated in China about 2,000 years ago, where it was considered to have medicinal value. Eventually, the kombucha recipe made its way north and west, arriving in Russia several hundred years ago. It is widely brewed in parts of Europe, particularly rural Russia, and is common in China, Japan, and Korea.
According to Nielson, retailers sold $412 million worth of kombucha in 2018, which was an impressive 42% increase over the previous year. It is sold in coffeehouses and megastores alike. The good news is, you can make your own kombucha and tailor the end result to suit your tastes. You’ll also spend a fraction of what commercial brands charge, all from the comfort of your own home.
For an extra splash of flavor when making your kombucha, you can add ginger, chopped fruit, or fresh herbs or spices. If you prefer a sweeter taste, try adding honey or fruit juice.
Brew Your Own ‘Bucha in Mason jars
- 2-4 tea bags or 1/4 cup loose tea (avoid herbal, infused, & flavored teas)
- 1/4 cup(s) sugar
- 1 piece of SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast)
- 1 quart Mason jar
- 1 coffee filter, paper towel, or tightly woven cloth
- 1 rubber band or string
- 1 canning lid and band
- 3 cup(s) water
- Boil water and pour into quart jar.
- Stir sugar into water with wooden spoon until dissolved.
- Add tea bags/loose tea and let sit for about 15 minutes or until it is cooled to room temperature.
- Add a piece of SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast).
- The larger the piece, the faster the fermenting takes place.
- Cover jar with coffee filter, paper towel, or tightly woven cloth. Secure with rubber band or string.
- Let ferment 7-10 days at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
- For flavoring, remove SCOBY, add desired flavoring (juice, fruit, etc), cover with a canning lid/band Let sit for a second fermentation period (7-10 more days).