One day about 6 years ago, a friend was telling me that her dad made some sort of tea out of a mushroom that cured a tumor on her dad's friend's neck. That was the first time I had ever heard of Kombucha.
Apparently the friend had a golf ball sized tumor on the back of his neck and after drinking the kombucha for a few months, it disappeared. The doctors had no idea why and the man never stopped drinking the Kombucha from that point on. This story, I cannot verify but I remember that I had tried it back then, and although I was intrigued, I never did get a mother SCOBY to start my own kombucha brew.
Fast forward to Februry of 2014 and I am gifted a beautiful glass canning jar filled with about 5-8 SCOBY and starter culture. What some would call a small SCOBY Hotel. What a gift indeed!
Benefits of Drinking Kombucha Daily
#1 Detoxification – The detoxifying capacity of kombucha is immense. A perfect example has been observed in its ability to counteract liver cell toxicity.
In one study, the liver cells being evaluated were protected from oxidative injury and actually maintained their normal physiology, in spite of being exposed to the toxin! According to researchers, this was “probably due to its antioxidant activity and could be beneficial against liver diseases, where oxidative stress is known to play a crucial role.”
#2 Digestion – Naturally the antioxidant prowess of this ancient tea counteracts free radicals that create mayhem in the digestive system. However, the greatest reason kombucha supports digestion is because of its high levels of beneficial acid, probiotics and enzymes.
Extensive work has even been conducted to test kombucha’s ability to prevent and heal leaky gut and stomach ulcers. No surprise to us, it was proven to be as effective as drugs like Prilosec, which are commonly prescribed for heartburn, GERD, and ulcers.
#3 Energy – Kombucha’s ability to invigorate people has been credited to the formation of iron that is released from the black tea during the fermentation process. It also contains some caffeine and b-vitamins, which can energize the body.
Through a special process known as chelation, the iron released helps to boost blood hemoglobin, improving oxygen supply to tissues and stimulating the energy producing process at the cellular level. In other words, by helping the body create more energy (ATP), the ancient tea can help those who regularly drink stay energized for extended periods of time.
#4 Immune Health – The overall effect that kombucha has to modulate the immune system is best seen in its ability to control free radicals through unbelievable antioxidant measures.
Clinically proven to decrease oxidative stress and related immuno-suppression, a powerful antioxidant known as D-saccharic acid-1, 4-lactone (DSL) has been discovered during the kombucha fermentation process that is not found in black tea alone. Also, we know the probiotics found in kombucha support the immune system.
Scientists suspect that DSL and the Vitamin C present in kombucha are its’ main secrets in protecting against cell damage, inflammatory diseases, tumors and overall depression of the immune system.
#5 Joint Care – Kombucha can help heal, repair and prevent joint damage in a number of ways. Kombucha is loaded with glucosamines, which increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. This supports the preservation of collagen and prevents arthritic pain. In the same way it supports joint collagen it can also support collagen of the entire body and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
#6 Cancer Prevention – Kombucha has also been proven beneficial for cancer prevention and recovery. A study published in Cancer Lettersfound that by consuming glucaric acid found in kombucha reduced the risk of cancer in humans.
President Reagan reportedly drank kombucha daily as part of his regimen to battle stomach cancer.
#7 Weight Loss – Data from a study in 2005 showed evidence that kombucha can improve metabolism and limit fat accumulation. Though we’ll need to see more studies before we can confirm these results, it makes sense that kombucha supports weight loss since it’s high in acetic acid and polyphenols which have in other studies been proven to increase weight loss.
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What the Hell is a SCOBY???
SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.
My first reaction was that this is gross and ewww! I dare say, read on.
You place a SCOBY or Mother into a large glass container of green tea and others (listed later) with organic sugar (or regular white refined). The SCOBY metabolizes the organic sugar and the tannins in the green tea resulting in a beverage that contains billions of probiotics, vitamins such as B, C, amino acids and enzymes. The healthy benefits that SCOBY offers is impressive to say the very least.
How do I make Kombucha?
I've learned from friends and on-line Kombucha groups, that everyone has a different way of making their kombucha. I'm going to tell you the way I do it. I guess the best way is to try it yourself and adjust it how you like it and see what works best in your kitchen.
I use an 11 litre ceramic coated pot to boil the water I use to dissolve the sugars and step my tea.
I have a 9.75 litre glass lemonade jar with stainless steel spigot that I use to contain my brew.
Apple Cider Vinegar to wash my space down with and all utensils and containers, just to be safe.
Wooden Spoon for stirring and retrieving teabags.
*If using any metal utensils, stainless steel is considered safe for brief contact. A wooden spoon works great for kombucha. Acids from cultures can interact with and leach metals (though mostly through prolonged contact), which could disrupt or harm the SCOBY.
Rubber band or twine
9 litres of water (I use spring water that we collect locally)
Separate the water into two parts. I do 4 boiled then add the other 5 at room temp to help the cool down process.
add 1/3 cup of sugar for each litre of water
9 organic white tea bags.
You can use a few different types of teas for brewing your Kombucha. White tea, black tea and green teas are some of the best.
A fantastic article on teas for kombucha can be found here:
Bring your sugar and 4 litres of water to a boil, making sure all sugar is dissolved, add tea bags and remove from the heat. Allow to steep. I usually let it steep for 20 minutes.
Remove tea bags with your wooden spoon.
Add the other 5 litres of water, cover and set aside to cool to room temperature.
While that cools, I rinse my clean glass brewing vessel with ACV and put in my SCOBY (Mother) with some of the culture from the previous brew.
After the sweet tea has cooled pour it into the vessel that hold your SCOBY and culture. Make sure to leave at least an inch from the top of the jar to allow the baby mushroom to grow and breath.
Place the clean tea towel over the top and wrap the elastic band wrong tight or tie it with twine. I've done both.
Set in a warm location out of direct sunlight.
The warmest spot ideally for me to brew is on top of our fridge, so that is where it sits for anywhere from 7-10 days. In the Summer months I felt like I couldn't keep up with it and ended up shutting the whole thing down for a bit. I kept my SCOBY in a hotel, which I'll explain later.
What You'll See
At first you'll see a transparent film cover the top that then will turn milky white and then form a decent SCOBY that is thick and healthy.
If you see any signs of fuzzy mold THROW IT ALL AWAY. Start fresh. It's happened to me twice and yes, it's very sad.
This is the fun part! Experimentation! You can make your kombucha taste like anything you want it to taste like. A favorite around here is a version of ginger-ale which is just grated ginger and lemon. And it fizzes like pop! How though?
First get yourself some swingtop bottles, which are built for this purpose. Be careful of the glass quality. The last thing you want is for your bottles to explode from the pressure of the fermentation process. I got mine from Costco and they're fantastic! I also have some bottles of beer swingtops that are fantastic as well!
If you're lucky enough to find a vessel with a stainless steel spigot then the next part is simple. Add the desired flavour to your bottles (suggestions below), then fill your bottles, close and set aside in a good place about the same temp you want to keep your brew.
Burp your bottle every day so they don't explode, testing them daily to see if you're happy with the flavour. Then chill.
Leave enough of the brew in with your SCOBY and start again.
Suggested additions for the second brew.
You can try anything!!!! The sky is the limit! Here are some of our favorites:
Ginger and lemon
Banana (huge fizz!!!)
Pineapple (huge fizz!!!)
any herbal infusion you can imagine for whatever you traditionally use the herbs for
orange (leave some peel, it tastes like orange soda!)
root-beer (I'm still working on this recipe and will update you when I perfect it!)
I also tried to make some wild grape jelly that ended up being concentrated juice. I added about 1/4 cup to each bottle of booch and ended up with a great grape soda flavour!
I use both frozen and fresh fruits.
For fizz issues add a few raisins to your 2nd ferments.
And honestly, no matter what, I find some batches are fizzier than others.
What is a SCOBY Hotel?
I found myself completely overrun with extra SCOBY and after a bit of research, I discovered the “SCOBY Hotel”. This is a large containert that houses many SCOBY, keeping them fresh until they are ready to be used or given away. If you have a number of SCOBY and would like to house them in a hotel, this is how to do it.
What I did
I took a clean glass vessel and added a one of my SCOBY to it with some culture. You'll find that with every brew you make, you have one extra SCOBY each time. Your original mother can become exhausted and need to rejuvenate or be added to the compost pile or used in a few recipes which I will talk about in another article.
Each time I make a new batch I add a small bit of sweet tea to the hotel and add another SCOBY, I repeat this whenever there is a SCOBY I don't use for something else or someone is looking to trade or barter for some. Below is my SCOBY Hotel.
How to Get Started
As I said earlier, I had a friend that gifted me a small SCOBY hotel to start me off. I have started others off. I have bartered a raspberry and strawberry plant for 2 SCOBY. If you're in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada and would like a SCOBY or two I'd be happy to make a fair trade with you.
Otherwise I would suggest asking friends, searching online or joining a group through Facebook. There are several groups on Facebook geared towards kombucha and fermented foods in general. I have learned so much from everyone who shares there and am very grateful.
I can say that when I paused production, we all missed it. We all drink it in this home. We all have our favorites. It's inexpensive, good for you, a science project for the whole family that becomes addictive in the most healthiest of ways!
I raise my glass of fizzy fruity booch to you!
To your health!
Recipes are going to vary from meals to medicines. It's all about healing from the inside out because we truly are what we eat. What's the point? Well, gardening and foraging for your own foods, shopping local and no processed garbage or pharmaceuticals for what ails you? I think that's enough of point, don't you?
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Your medicine is in the woods.
Your pharmacy is in your kitchen.