The very first time I tried kombucha, I didn't like it. My first job as a teenager was at a local health food store - Healthy Life Market. I had no idea what half the products in the store were at the time, but I was completely fascinated by everything. People would come in and buy all kinds of strange things I had never seen before, including this beverage in a glass bottle with cloudy stuff in the bottom and a silly name. It looked disgusting, but interesting. So, because I was curious, I decided to give it a try.
Needless to say, I was not impressed by the first taste. I don't know what I was expecting, but three words come to mind: tart, burn, and bite. The first experience was GT Trilogy, which is actually now my favorite drink. After the initial surprise taste, it took a while to come back around to even considering giving it a second try. Many years later.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is a source of beneficial bacteria. Kombucha is made using black tea, sugar, and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, more commonly called scoby. It kind of resembles a slimy, flat mushroom. I know what you are thinking... yes, that does look pretty gross. Good news, the SCOBY comes out before you drink it.
Why drink Kombucha?
Fermented foods are extremely therapeutic for gut health because of the presences of bacteria cultures during and after the fermentation process. These bacteria are of the acetic acid and lactic acid species as well as various yeasts. The healing properties of this beverage are not limited to the bacteria themselves, but what the bacteria do. Glucuronic acid, lactic acid, and usnic acid can be found as a by-product in many kombucha drinks that give it many remedial properties (1). Kombucha can be used as a detoxifier, an antioxidant, and an immune booster. It can also aid in healing stomach ulcers, balancing metabolism, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol, decreasing liver enzymes which improves liver health, and can even inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells (1). I don't know any better reasons to give it a try!
I love kombucha!
Fast forward to today, obviously I gave kombucha a second chance and fell in love. The flavor of this tea varies based on what company makes it and what they used to flavor it with. I have seen raspberry, turmeric, cayenne, and lavender. GT Kombucha tends to be a bit more tart than others, but I love them all nevertheless. What I don't love is the price tag. In my area, a good bottle of kombucha starts at $3.00. So I have learned to make my own!
My very first SCOBY came from a lady that attended one of my Healthy Gut seminars. She had been making her own tea for years and loved that I taught about it in my classes. I didn't know what to do with it and failed miserably at following her directions. The whole batch grew mold on top and I had to throw it away. My second SCOBY came from a beautiful young woman that I work with (shout out to Miss Lia). She gave me a better set of instructions that has not failed me yet. Knock on wood.
The instructions are pretty easy. I start by brewing a fresh batch of black tea, using bottled spring water to make my tea with because tap water can cause contamination. It is about a 6 cup water to 5-6 tea bag ratio. Once the water comes to a boil, I add the tea bags to steep and 1 cup of cane sugar, stirring until dissolved. Then I remove the tea bags and let it cool to room temperature.
In a large glass jar (important that it is glass), I combine the cooled tea, the SCOBY with about a cup of old kombucha that the SCOBY was in, and a splash of apple cider vinegar to top it off. I have never actually measured the ACV, but the visual in Miss Lia's reminder drawing is pretty accurate. Just enough ACV to add acidity. Lastly, I use a coffee filter to cover the top so that air can get it but floating particulates cannot. I have used rubber bands, hair bows, and rope to tie it on. The tea is now ready for round one fermentation. I put it up in a cabinet away from light and heat to let it do it's thang. Lia always stresses to check the pH of the tea daily to prevent it from molding. Ideal pH range is 2.5-3.5.
Ready to give it a try?