One beverage that is making rounds among health conscious individuals today is kombucha.
What is kombucha? It is a fermented beverage made from tea, water, starter tea and kombucha culture which is also called scoby. It tastes like sparkling cider and champagne. The taste would vary depending on the tea you choose to use. Regardless of your choice, however, it is not how you’d imagine a fermented tea to taste like.
The History of Kombucha
While kombucha sounds fairly new to a lot of people, it is not entirely new. It originated from China during the Tsin Dynasty where it is known as "The Tea of Immortality," and it has been around for thousands of years. In fact, the oldest record of use comes from 221 BC.
Kombucha is also used in Japan, Russia, and Europe. In fact, the beverage got its name around 415 AD in Japan. A Korean physician named Kombu treated Japan’s Emperor Inyko with the tea. He combined his name “Kombu” and the Japanese word for tea “cha” and came up with “Kombucha.” Russians have a long tradition of drinking this tea. They call it “Tea Kvass,” and it is usually fermented from Japanese mushroom.
The practice was adopted by other countries like Prussia, Germany, Poland, and Denmark, but it eventually died out after the Second World War. Dr. Rudolph Skelnar renewed people’s interest when he started using to treat cancer, hypertension, and diabetes.
What is Scoby?
Kombucha culture is called ‘scoby’ which is an acronym of ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.' If you haven’t seen a kombucha culture, it looks a lot like a beige or white pancake, albeit rubbery in texture. The scoby is placed in a bowl of sweetened black or green tea. This gives the tea more minerals, vitamins, enzymes and other healthy acids.
As scoby digests the sugar, it creates various kinds of organic acids like lactic acid, acetic acid, malic acid, usnic acid, glucuronic acid, butyric acid, gluconic acid, vitamin B, vitamin C, amino acids, and enzymes. This doesn’t include all the health benefits that probiotic microorganisms. The culture is a biochemical superhero in the kitchen.
So, what is kombucha? Would using yeast produce an alcoholic beverage? Yes, the yeast does create alcohol, but since the culture also has bacteria, the bacterial turns the alcohol produced into organic acids. A significantly small amount of alcohol of a volume of about 1% remains.
Every time, you create a brew, the kombucha creates a new layer on the surface. You can leave this layer alone so that it can thicken the culture. You can then use this spare culture in the future if something happens to the active culture. You can even give the culture to your friends so that they can make their kombucha. You can use it to make another batch as well.
Kombucha and Your Health
Many people claim tremendous health benefits from taking kombucha, but there is a need for more definitive studies to establish the effects of kombucha on people’s health. However, it has been shown to possess the same antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties of fermented milk products. A study on rats demonstrated that it improves liver function and helps the body combat stress.
There are numerous testimonials from people who have been taking kombucha for years. Some of these health benefits include significantly improved energy levels. It also helps rid of allergies, candidiasis, digestive problems, metabolic disorders, hypertension, HIV, arthritis, and chronic fatigue. It also helps people suffering from cancer. Some people apply it externally on their skin and hair.
Although you can make your own brew, you can also buy bottled ones from the local store. You can find pasteurized and unpasteurized kombucha in the market. They’ve completely exploded, and their sales have reached over $500,000 by 2015.
Should You Take It Yourself?
Recently, kombucha is touted as practically magical. Not only does it cure every digestion problem, but it also helps treat cancer. Many people may doubt the big curative claims, but it cannot be denied that there are health benefits that can be derived from it especially if it is raw or unpasteurized. This form of kombucha is packed with good bacteria (like that found in yogurt). These probiotics can help boost a person’s immune system and overall health.
Since the ingredients to make your brew can easily be bought, some may even be sitting inside your cupboards or your pantry, making your own kombucha is fairly easy. The trick,however, is in finding the right container to allow your brew to ferment.
For that, you might want to get your hands on the Secure Swing 16 oz Beer Bottles with Ceram-Seal Ceramic Cap. These sturdy bottles are mostly used in homebrewing beer & carbonated drinks. They will work great for kombucha as well.
Kombucha is far from being a magic potion, but you stand to gain more from drinking it than skipping it. It is a healthy and flavorful drink that is low in sugar and calories. Drink it in moderation and enjoy the benefits it offers.