What To Expect When You First Try Kombucha

Kombucha, for me it was love at first sip!

I was warned that this drink was lip puckering, vinegary and murky but my first reaction to Kombucha was pure bliss. The tangy and fizziness of this effervescent drink was thirst quenching as it satisfied my cravings for a carbonated beverage on a hot day.

No kidding. It reminds me of a slightly sour beer with some added nutritional benefits! Win-win!

Once I found out I can make this fermented tea at home I quickly signed up for a workshop and have been brewing my own batches in my cool dark pantry shelves for over a year now!

Homemade Kombucha
Here is a photo of three batches of home-made kombucha covered with a breathable lid. The middle jar has chunks of fresh ginger on the bottom, adding a zesty flavor to the original recipe.

Kombucha pronounced (KOM-BOO-CHA) is a drink that is made by fermenting sweet tea with a culture or yeast. The origin of this drink is still undetermined but whomever and wherever this tea came from it has left a lasting impression as the people of Japan, China and Russia continually drink this tea regularly as it thought to help promote longevity and wellness.

If you’ve ever bought a bottle of Kombucha you were likely a bit intimidated at first.

You probably saw the dark network of strands floating in your bottle, which are remnants of the SCOBY; similar to how you find “mothers” in apple cider vinegar which are really just a combination of beneficial bacteria, proteins and micronutrients.

These natural byproducts of Kombucha come from the SCOBY which stands for symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast.

Basically, the sweet tea you start with is converted to Kombucha from this SCOBY as it feeds off the sugar content in the tea. The sugar is converted into carbon dioxide and ethanol which explains why you have to be careful if you have an alcohol sensitivity as some brands contain more than trace amounts of alcohol. The SCOBY itself is thought to protect the jar of fluids from the outer environment, resulting in a drink rich in probiotics, as most fermented foods are.

How To Make Kombucha
Here is a photo of the strange “mother” in a bottle of store bought organic apple cider vinegar.

The SCOBY looks like an alien-pancake made of microbes that are translucent in colour until it is tinted brown from exposure to many teas over and over again. After some poking around it seems that the SCOBY itself has most of the probiotic benefits rather than the tea itself and this is why many people actually eat the SCOBY itself. When in the jar it floats on top of the liquid and is rubbery, a bit slimy and definitely alive. Watching a SCOBY slowly dance in your home-made Kombucha as it ferments is worth brewing a batch itself if not for its complex flavor profiles and probiotic benefits.

Last month I talked about sauerkraut (link to blog post) and all its glory praising it and other ferments for providing probiotics; living micro-organisms that help maintain a healthy intestinal tract by balancing out the harmful and helpful bacteria naturally found in your gut. Intestinal health is super important for overall health, impacting our energy levels, mood, digestion and weight.

Over many many years it has been used therapeutically as it is thought to help with liver and immune support, arthritis and digestive health to name a few. As much as I love all ferments some like Kombucha may not have as many superfoods capabilities as other do. There currently is no scientific backing on human data in favor of this drink in terms of having health benefits to the mentioned ailments. Due to this it is only responsible for me to advise people to take caution when experimenting with new items, like Kombucha. Also, children, pregnant women, those with yeast sensitivities and with a compromised immune system should refrain from drinking this tea and should consult a naturopath or doctor beforehand.

This drink is not for everybody but I personally think it benefits MY digestive health and most importantly it satisfies my cravings in a less caloric and more wholesome way. In comparison to pop and beer this drink has less sugar and calories adding up to 14g of carbohydrate per 8 oz serving compared to 22.5 g of carbohydrates for soda pop. I often drink my Kombucha in a beer sleeve or wine glass as I try to decrease my alcohol intake. I mix it with fresh juices or muddled fruit to give it a more exciting, non or low alcoholic party friendly drink.

Kombucha Scoby
Meet my SCOBY- his name is Bert and he is happily floating on the top of jar as the fermentation ensue’s beneath him.

I drink Kombucha because it works with my body, I love the taste, I enjoy the ancient traditions of its use and I simply love making my own ‘booch’. If you don’t fall into any of the categories mentioned above consider buying a bottle of Kombucha. Start with buying a bottle from a reputable brand and drink it slowly, maybe even an ounce or two one day to see if it jives with you. I have friends who say it makes them feel a little tipsy, or have a stomach ache so they are cautious with the amounts they drink.

If you end up loving the taste and light bubbles you will likely enjoy making your own brew. There are lots of comprehensive guides on how to make your own batch but the joy of mixing teas, adding flavors and watching my SCOBY come to life in my home makes me glad I bought my first spooky, dark and majestic bottle of Kombucha years ago.

Hit me up if you have any Kombucha questions!

Stefanie

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