Kombucha

The health community has had a surge of people excited about the benefits that kombucha has to offer. This slightly sparkling beverage has an impressive array of health remedies to boast about. Making this beverage at home does not compare to purchasing it’s grocery store counter-part. The health benefits of store-bought are largely diminished during their processing and refinement processes. Therefore, I would love to give you the resources you need to get consistently delicious results from your very own home-made brew.

Kombucha is a probiotic-rich lacto-fermented beverage, black or green tea is the growing medium for this beverage. Take special care to purchase quality tea ingredients for your Kombucha. Tea is some of the most over-looked foods, when it comes to seeking organic foods. Essentially, all fruits and vegetables are rinsed after harvesting and before making it to the consumer. Tea leaves however, cannot be rinsed because they are susceptible to mold if moistened. Therefore, all of the pesticide residue is consumed in the final product. With this said, it is extremely important that you find good quality tea bags or loose leaves. I’d like to take a moment to talk about my recommended favorite brands of tea and why they are on my list. We all know the importance of avoiding pesticides, GMO’s, and artificial flavorings. The easiest way to do this is to buy USDA organic products. Be that as it may, how many of you know what the term “natural flavorings” means? This label of ingredients is allowed even in organic products. I found an article in Scientific American explaining that natural flavors can in fact, be more dangerous than artificial flavors. This is because they are not subjected to the same rigorous level of safety testing that is required for artificial flavors. They can be the exact same chemicals as those found in artificial flavoring. However, the fact that they are naturally sourced, means they don’t have to be tested in a lab for safety. Here’s a chart of some of the more popular brands of tea in alphabetical order.

Tea Brands Chart

The winners on this list are; Numi, Traditional Medicinals, and Rishi Tea. I am happy to discover that Ahmed Rahim, CEO of Numi Tea is just as disgusted by this ingredient as I am. He is quoted saying, “You can breakdown anything that is found in nature and if it ends up tasting like the flavor you wish to use – you can add it to any product and call it NATURAL FLAVOR on the ingredient label. It could come from a stone in the ground and you’d never know.” Now that I’ve plugged you into the importance of avoiding chemicals and GMO’s; we can get started on the art of making kombucha.

The key component to making kombucha is the “mother.” The word “mother” simply describes the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, otherwise known as a SCOBY. The “mother” is what makes the magic happen. It is a leathery, pancake shaped blob. This strange appearance is why some people refer to as a mushroom. Making this fermented beverage is a simple and fun project to get the whole family involved in. Watching and becoming part of the process, adds to the interest and anticipation of tasting the end result.

You won’t need any fancy equipment, just a glass jar and some cheesecloth. You only need 3 ingredients; organic tea, sugar and a healthy Mother S.C.O.B.Y.  That’s it! Make your tea with 6 cups of water and 2-3 tea bags or 1 tablespoon of loose leaf tea. Add 6 tablespoons of sugar while the tea is still hot. You will use one small SCOBY for this sized batch. Be sure to wait until your tea has reached room temperature. At this point, you may add the starter liquid without damaging the mother. This brew cycle will take 3-7 days. Place your kombucha in the warmest spot of your kitchen, it likes to be between 75-85 degrees. When your kombucha is finished, just pour the liquid into a jar and enjoy.  Reserve some of your brew for your next batch, you can use this as your starter liquid.  1/2-1 cup is all that is needed for a starter liquid. You did it, your kombucha is ready! You are now ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor from this time-tested, old-fashioned favorite. Pour, sip, repeat!!

Ultimately, once you become hooked on kombucha, you may reach a point where you want to use a continuous brew method. This method has some added perks. One of the more practical benefits is; it is easier to produce and there is less work involved. The more important benefits are both practical as well as nutritious. A continuous brew has less risk of mold contamination after it is established. This is due to the higher acidity in the brew. There is also a more diverse array of beneficial bacteria and yeast in the continuous brew method, therefore increasing the health benefits.

This method requires a vessel with a non-metallic spigot. That is the only piece of equipment you will need for your continuous brew. Prepare your kombucha the same way, only this time let it brew for 7-21 days. When the kombucha is to your liking, use the spigot to drain off ¾ of the liquid. This is your finished product! Refrigerate it or enjoy it straight from the tap. To get started again, simply add more tea while leaving the remaining ¼ of the starter liquid, along with the S.C.O.B.Y. in your continuous brew vessel. This method is great for kombucha enthusiasts, those with large families or anyone who wants the full array of benefits of a continuous brew.

Want a little flavor in your kombucha? If so, then let’s talk about a second fermentation. This is the perfect opportunity to jazz up your brew! Please read my blog post on Second Fermentation, there I can introduce to you a handful of different flavor recipes that will satisfy your senses!

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