We see kombucha pretty much everywhere these days. We see people touting its health properties on Instagram and Facebook, we see shelves of the stuff at high-end grocery stores like Whole Foods, and you’ve probably even seen it at a health food store or two. Many of us have one simple question: What is kombucha?
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a slightly alcoholic fermented drink consisting of green or black tea, sugar, and a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast commonly referred to as SCOBY. Once these ingredients are combined, you let them ferment for anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks before trying to a taste of the tea.
Despite what many might think, kombucha isn’t some new fad that’s taken the internet by storm. No, in fact, people have been drinking kombucha tea for its health benefits for thousands of years ever since it was first invented somewhere in China between 200 and 2,000 years ago (the exact location and time of its origin are disputed). Over the years, fermented tea has been enjoyed by millions around the globe.
Many people have claimed that kombucha is quite beneficial to your health and should be enjoyed regularly to promote a healthy digestive system as well as overall health. Official recipes have been published from a scientific standpoint that state: “Being a product fermented by bacteria and yeast association, kombucha has a very complex composition which has a range of components from tea, bacteria, yeast, and compounds produced during the fermentation process.” Kombucha tea is fermented with healthy bacteria and then becomes a drink consisting of bacteria, yeast, and tea when it’s ready to be consumed.
It might sound crazy, but kombucha does offer quite a few health benefits. For example, probiotics found in the healthy bacteria of kombucha can help with:
- Food allergies
- Indigestion concerns
- Lowering cholesterol
The fermentation process gives kombucha tea a healthy dose of B-vitamins and enzymes that help provide much needed boost.
Another health benefit from kombucha is that it’s a probiotic, since it’s loaded with beneficial bacteria, that can help keep you improve digestion, and boost your immune system.
Additionally, studies conducted on rodents have suggested that ingesting kombucha tea will promote better liver and cardiovascular health, and will also aid in preventing cancers. However, this research has yet to be tested on humans, but the research itself stated that more studies would need to be conducted before concrete health benefits are provided.
Here are a few more of the biggest claims about kombucha:
- Contains antioxidants
- Can kill bacteria
- May help manage type 2 diabetes
We mentioned SCOBY just above, but what is it, exactly? SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, is a key ingredient used in the fermentation process that creates kombucha.
Though the appearance of a SCOBY can change from case to case, it is essentially a dense, round, rubbery, and opaque dish-like structure that looks a lot like the top of a mushroom, which is why it’s often called “mushroom” by people who make a lot of kombucha.
As you’ll see in the recipe provided in this article, the SCOBY is added to the kombucha tea before the fermentation process can even begin. The SCOBY contains a lot of bacteria and yeast (hence its name), which breaks down and converts the tea’s sugar content into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and acids.
Adding the SCOBY is key to achieving the desired flavor, and health benefits, of kombucha, and without it, the tea could not become a healthy probiotic.
Make Your Own Or Buy One?
If you have the time and patience, or just really want to know exactly how a SCOBY works, you can make one yourself. We dug up this handy recipe to help you along the way. Be warned, it will take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to grow one from scratch.
If growing your own SCOBY isn’t your thing, you can always just buy one on Amazon.
Once you have your SCOBY, you’ll be more than well on your way to making your own batch of kombucha tea.
Brewing Your Own Kombucha
While you can always buy a bottle of kombucha at essentially any store, there are some of us that prefer to do things the old fashioned way. The process of brewing your own kombucha is actually quite easy if you have the time and proper ingredients.
Below we have included a simple recipe for a basic kombucha tea that anyone can put together.
- 2 tablespoon loose leaf green tea
- 1 Cup sugar
- 1 gallon clean water
- 1 SCOBY (symbiotic culture or bacteria and yeast)
- 1 cup starter tea OR vinegar
- Gallon jar
- Wooden spoon
- Rubber band
- Bottle with airtight lid
Boil the water. Remove from heat and then mix the hot water and sugar into the glass jar.
Stir until the sugar dissolves. Place the tea bags into the jar and leave it to steep until the water cools completely.
Once the tea has cooled, remove the bags or strain all the loose leaf tea from the jar.
Add the cup of starter tea or vinegar.
Add your SCOBY to the mixture with your wooden spoon. You can also carefully use your hands so long as they’re thoroughly clean.
Cover your jar with the cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band.
Let your mixture ferment for 7 – 10 days out of direct sunlight.
After the fermentation process, pour the kombucha out into a bottle with an airtight lid.