What Is Kombucha?

I first started to make Kombucha when I was a naturopathic student in the 1980’s. Kombucha certainly is no health fad, it has been used for thousands of years in China, having only recently become popular in the West the last twenty or thirty years. Kombucha is basically a fermented mixture made from the kombucha (a kind of mushroom) culture added to a black or green tea made with plenty of sugar. The end result is a kind of sweet, pancake-like structure that floats on top of the container where it is made and generally stored. Don’t worry out about the sugar – it is all consumed (fermented) by bacteria and turned into a lactic acid ferment which is fantastic for the large and small intestine in particular. The fermentation floating on top of the mixture is often referred to as a “mushroom.” The tea is said to be a miracle cure and is even considered a panacea (a ‘cure all’) by some of its most devoted fans, but these claims have not been scientifically validated.

Kombucha Is Easy To Make

kombucha_1Kombucha is a living tea that is fun to make, especially if you have kids.  Like many cultured and fermented foods, Kombucha may become a tempoary fad for many people, because its one of those things you have to look after on a regular basis.  Your kombucha mushroom is really like having a live pet, and because it reproduces itself every two to three weeks you can give your extra cultures away to friends or family. Kombucha tea costs only a few pennies a glass to make as you just need quality tea and white sugar and clean water, how simple is that.  You can choose to use any water you are comfortable with, boiled tap, bottled, filtered, well. Avoid distilled water if possible. You may like to read my article on water filtration to understand why I am no fan of distilled water.

Kombucha tea is a slightly effervescent, tangy drink you can easily make yourself with very basic ingredients:

  •  Tea – black or green tea (I use tea bags, you may want to experiment with 2 to 3 tea bags per litre of water.
  •  Water & Sugar (1 cup sugar for 4 litres of tea). I just use plain white sugar and have found this to work fine.
  •  One Kombucha culture. This is a round and rubbery “mushroom” which floats on your culture.

The ingredients are combined and fermented at room temperature for about 1-2 weeks, this is how long it takes for the sugar to be consumed. I recommend to always maintain scrupulously clean conditions when home-brewing the drink, or if you can’t be bothered then perhaps stick to mass-produced kombucha-tea in bottles.

You can buy a mushroom (which can be re-used indefinitely), and get detailed instructions for easily preparing your own Kombucha through various health food shops. Sometimes you have to hunt around a little to get one, but they are available if you make genuine enquiries. The amazing thing about the mushroom is that you can dry them out, slip it in a book or in a filing cabinet, then some time later – revive it once again in the tea and sugar solution. I have verified this myself with a small dried out kombucha mushroom I once kept for over three years in an old copy of Dr. Vogel’s Nature Doctor. It revived perfectly well after being placed in a bucket of tea sweetened with white sugar, though it did take many weeks to produce the tea.

Kombucha Health Benefits

Kombucha tea beverage contains dozens of healthful elements including natural probiotics, B vitamins, acetic acid, amino acids,glucuronic acid,glucon acid, lactic acid, and lots more. Give it a go, you may be surprised at the results this simple beverage can give you. Here are a few of the health benefits:

  • Detoxification. Kombucha is known for its detoxification abilities. The tea has been said to help the elderly and HIV patients and even to assist in curing hangovers. Because of its acidic properties, Kombucha tea has been found to kill bacteria in the body.
  • Immune Booster. Kombucha has a positive effect on the immune system, increases energy, stimulates hair growth and assists in the prevention of cancer. According to a New York Times article, Kombucha has also been said to restore hair color, help arthritis patients and improve skin, although some of these claims remain unfounded and untested in humans. Personally, I have found that patients who remain on K-tea seem to have excellent digestive health which just gets better over time.
  • Longevity. Studies on lab mice that were given the drink for three years found that the mice lived nearly a month longer than the mice in a test group not given the drink. The Los Angeles Times article also cited studies showing the positive effects on the mice livers and DNA even after exposure to outside negative influences. Unfortunately, no clinical trials have been conducted on humans and probably won’t be because this is a drink everybody can make for pennies and therefore it can’t be monopolised very easily.

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