Tea Time: The Benefits of All Natural Kombucha

Make tea, not war.

–Monty Python

 

Since getting used to having a pitcher of refreshing fruit water in my fridge daily, I’ve been on the lookout for more great ways to incorporate filtered water into healthy, delicious drinks. After looking for inspiration online and finding an overwhelming amount of options, I decided to go back to my health-food friend, Stef, to ask her advice. She and another lady have recently been brewing Kombucha, and have even gained somewhat of a local following here. Having never before heard of this tea drink, I was pretty intrigued. What is this apparently nutritious, yummy drink that everyone’s talking about?

 

K: I am clearly out of the hippie loop – what the heck is Kombucha?

S: “Well, then it’s time to come back into the ‘hippie loop,’ my dear! Kombucha is the name for fermented tea. To let the tea ferment you need a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture OBacteria & Yeast), plus 2 cups of Kombucha. Kombucha is also called ‘starter liquid’. The tea will then be mixed with sugar. As soon as you pour the starter liquid and the SCOBY in, the fermentation process starts. The SCOBY (also called ‘mother’) is going to eat the sugar in the tea. The whole fermentation process takes around 7 days.”

I must admit that when Steph began explaining this process, I really wondered what I’d gotten myself into. Mother? SCOBY? Liquid starter? It sounded more like the makings of a Dr. Who episode than a simple drink. (Which, you know, I enjoy watching, but not necessarily ingesting.) Happily, once I became a bit more familiar with the terms, everything started to make sense. To help shine some further light on the purpose and function of a SCOBY:

“The SCOBY metabolizes the organic sugar and the caffeine in the organic green and black tea, resulting in a beverage that contains billions of probiotics, vitamins such as B, C, amino acids, and enzymes. The SCOBY is rubbery in texture, looks like an off white/white pancake.  This substance takes your delicious tea and turns it into a vitamin, mineral, and healthy, living organic acid your body needs and welcomes. ”

Got it? Sure, it’s still a little in the Dr. Who realm, but we’re getting there.

Store-bought Kombucha can be very expensive, so if it’s something we want to incorporate into our daily lives, brewing our own at home is definitely worth consideration. Photo courtesy of www.precisionnutrition.com.

K: What makes Kombucha so healthy for us?

S: “Kombucha contains plenty of probiotics, which help boost our immune system and our digestive system. It also contains enzymes that aid digestion. Some people are actually concerned about having too much Kombucha. Some health gurus argue that the sugar isn’t good. My personal opinion and experience in my own body has been wholly positive! There is not much sugar left after a 7 day fermentation process. Remember, the SCOBY eats the sugar! Since I started drinking Kombucha every day, my immune system is much stronger and I have no digestive problems anymore. But everybody is different. So, I suggest to try it slowly and see how your body reacts.”

 

Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary.

–Chinese Proverb

 

I do know a thing or two about the importance of probiotics, mainly from my experience with my colon disease. It’s true that probiotics really are wonderful for improving our overall health. Even though they’re available in pill form, getting them naturally from food and drink tends to be more effective.

 

K: What inspired you to begin brewing your own Kombucha at home, and what has the experience been like?

S: “My first experience with Kombucha was horrible. I ordered it in a restaurant, had a sip and thought, ‘This is horrible!’ And I have to admit: I really hated it! Then a few weeks later, I tried Kombucha from my dear friend and it was a completely different experience. It wasn’t that vinegary and actually tasted quite good. That was enough to hook me. Since then, I am constantly brewing Kombucha and even selling it — together with my friend Claudia — to our friends and even some restaurants.”

K: Can you give us a quick walk-through of what the steps of making Kombucha are?

S: “Sure, it’s quite easy. But first, you need a SCOBY and the starter liquid! You also need a big jar and a cloth to cover it, as well as:

– 1 gallon of filtered water

– green tea/black tea

– 1 cup of sugar

Brew the tea, put the sugar in. As soon as the tea is cooled down, put the SCOBY in and pour the starter liquid on top. Cover the jar with a cotton cloth and store it in a place where no direct sunlight shines on the jar. We brew our Kombucha just with organic tea and organic brown sugar!”

If you’re inspired by this and really want to delve into brewing your own at home, there is an incredible amount of thorough resources online. After exploring some of them, I quickly learned helpful tips such as, “Never wash any of your Kombucha brewing supplies with soap, because soap kills the bacteria and yeasts in the SCOBY and will render it useless.”

Also imperative is using filtered water: the chlorine in tap water will literally kill the SCOBY. When we mindfully choose to use an all-natural Soma water filter for this, we’re not only helping to nourish our own bodies, but we’re also doing our part to invest in sustainable products that are helping to heal our planet.

It’s impossible to brew Kombucha using tap water, meaning that we need to use a water filter to make this tea. One eco-friendly choice is investing in the sustainable, 100% recyclable, all-natural Soma water filter. Photo courtesy of www.happymundane.com.

K: Do you have any other healthy drinks that you’d recommend? I want my fridge to be stocked with a variety.

S: “There are plenty of great herbal teas, like ginger-cinnamon-honey, or butterfly pea tea with a fresh lime to squeeze in. Any kind of smoothies (with organic fruits and filtered water) are also great. Many people like to drink kefir, which also contains plenty of probiotics.”

Drinking tea is one of the healthiest ways of making sure we get enough water, and it seems that Kombucha is no exception. Have you had any personal experience with this so-called wonder drink?

 

Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence…. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.

–Okakura Kakuzō