Kombucha tea has its roots in Russian, Japanese, and Chinese history; all claim to have originated the brew. Even India has laid claim to its discovery. Although it got its start in Europe or Asia, in the last 10 years kombucha has gone from non-existent in the United States to a booming industry. As of 2009, reported sales of kombucha beverages sold in the United States is $40 million. This doesn’t account for all the people who brew it as home using a Scoby and a glass jar. Kombucha is easy to culture at home but does pose health risks if the brew is not kept in a sterile environment.
Reported benefits may come from its ingredients such as:
- Live, active enzymes – These are found mostly in raw foods. Studies suggest they act like spark plugs in our cells, helping them break down nutrients and turn on their metabolic powers.
- Organic acids – These promote healthy tissue and balanced alkalinity, providing homeostasis in the body: lactic acid, acetic acid, glucuronic acid (on debate), usnic acid, oxalic acid, malic acid, butyric acid, and nucleic acids. Studies also claim that these acids act as preservatives, keeping the brew and our bodies free of harmful bacteria and viruses.
- Polyphenols – These are the so called age reversing antioxidants which are soon to make headlines in the health and wellness world. They fight off free radicals that cause tissue damage and premature aging.
- Probiotics – Kombucha tea contains several strains of probiotics including lactobacillus bacterium and S. Boulardii. Studies suggest these can improve digestion and support the immune system.
- Many other compounds also provide flavor and may provide benefits, including amino acids, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones and esters.
Here is a simple recipe for brewing Kombucha at home.
- 1-gallon glass jar
- 1 cotton cloth (white cloth napkin or muslin)
- 1 large rubber band
- 1 wooden or stainless steel spoon
- 1 large stainless steel pan that holds 2 gallons of water or more
- 1 gallon of purified bottled water (not distilled or spring)
- 1 cup of white sugar (organic preferred)
- 5 to 6 tea backs (black or green teas, plain, organic preferred)
- 1-quart white vinegar
- 1 Scoby or a bottle of non-pasteurized kombucha
- Wash all the utensils with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly, allow them to dry.
- Disinfect the counter and utensils using the white vinegar and allow to air dry. (Except for the white cloth.)
- Pour the gallon of water into the pan and bring it to a simmer. Avoid allowing it to boil longer than 30 seconds as boiling releases oxygen from the water, the Scoby needs oxygen to thrive.
- Add the tea bags to the water and allow to simmer for roughly 30 seconds. Turn off the stove and allow the tea to brew for 5-mintues.
- After removing the tea bags, add the sugar to the brew and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
- Allow the tea to rest until it reaches room temperature. It can be tested using a candy thermometer or digital thermometer which has been cleaned and disinfected. Ideally, the tea should be between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Any hotter and the bacteria in the Scoby will die. Any colder and it will become inactive and hibernate.
- Once the tea has become the desired temperature, carefully pour it into the glass jar. Gently lower the Scoby into the jar or dump the bottle of raw kombucha beverage into the jar.
- Place the cloth on top of the jar and place the rubber band on the cloth around the mouth of the jar. This cloth is to keep the beverage free of debris, fruit flies, flies, bugs, and other contaminates but allows the Scoby to get oxygen.
- Allow the kombucha to brew for at least 14 days and up to 28 days in a warm location without being disturbed. Most people place them on top their refrigerators, others purchase special heating pads sold by kombucha brewing companies. Kombucha likes some light, but not direct sun. It does need low-level light to survive.
- In the continuous brew method, after the 15-day mark you may draw off up to ten percent of the liquid and replace it with fresh feed on a daily basis. Be sure to stir the liquid daily to keep a new Scoby from forming IF using the continuous brew method.
- In the monthly brew method, remove 90 percent of the liquid and replace it with fresh, room temperature solution. Take the removed solution and store it in a glass container in the refrigerator. Give the baby Scoby a new home.