Kombucha 101: Everything You've Been Wanting to Know
Eastern medicine has given us natural cures to treat all sorts of ailments. Chinese medicine has used plants, ferments and longevity elixirs to heal the body for centuries. Kombucha is a type of tea that has been fermented, with loads of health benefit claims like antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins, and gut health protection.
What's in there?
Kombucha is an ancient longevity beverage, meant to add a few years to your life, sipped all over the world. Kombucha is a healthful fermented beverage made from water, tea, and sugar to which a starter culture is added.
The starter culture is called Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast or SCOBY for short. SCOBY is a complicated organism that works in harmony to convert the solution into that super popular fermented beverage we call #kombucha. Sometimes the SCOBY is referred to as a culture, baby, mushroom, or pancake; however, those are just names - it is not a mushroom or fungus. It's not a baby, either!
Typically, kombucha has as much vitamin C as orange juice but less than a 10th of the sugar. Additionally, #kombuchas will contain acetic acid, lactic acid, gluconic acid, and amino acids. The exact composition of kombucha will depend on the tea used along with all the other ingredients added, but they commonly yield malic acid, oxalic acid, usnic acid, nucleic acids, carbonic acid, folic acid, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12). It is important to note that these vitamins and acids are bioavailable, in their “living form” in kombucha, making it easier for your body to absorb and use them.
What's your name?
Kombucha is said to have been invented by the Chinese during the Qin Dynasty (221-206) specifically for Emperor Qin Shui Huangdi. In 414 AD, Dr. Kombu brought this tonic to Japan and introduced it to Emperor Ingyo. It is said that this is where kombucha received its name. Cha is the Chinese word for tea. Kombu + Cha = Kombucha.
Where are ya going?
Kombucha, like other teas, most likely traveled by way of the Silk Road finding a home in Russia where it is called kvass (mushroom tea), and subsequently on to Europe. Kombucha was popular in Europe, especially in Germany, where it is called teepilz (tea fungus).
During the Cultural Revolution in China, every home had kombucha brewing. Recipes were passed down from generation to generation. Kombucha was very popular until World War II when the rationing of tea and sugar slowed the growth of kombucha. Even though over time it had fallen out of favor, kombucha is seeing a renaissance and has greatly increased in popularity in the US over the past thirty years. Kombucha first became popular in the US during the 60s with the American counter-culture, was re-discovered by Americans in the 90s, and has grown in popularity ever since.
Ancient Roots: It is believed that the "vinegary beverage" mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible refers to kombucha.
Where have you enjoyed your favorite Kombucha? Is it served at your favorite restaurant or tea shop? Is there a bottled version you love? How about trying to brew your own? You can do it! Follow the simple recipe below to brew your first batch of kombucha! It will yield about one gallon. Let us know how the brewing goes and how your first batch tastes! Tag us on social media, #hulaconsulting we are absolutely thrilled to see your progress!
1 cup of sugar
4-6 tea bags or sachets (if loose, 8-12g of tea)
Kombucha SCOBY (from the previous batch, make your own, get one from a kombucha friend, or purchase one from a reputable supplier)
1 cup of starter liquid (from the previous batch of kombucha or distilled vinegar)
1 gallon of filtered clean water
Vessel to boil water in
Gallon container to make kombucha in (Must be able to withstand hot temperatures)
Cloth cover (not cheesecloth)
Heat 4 cups of water to nearly boiling (190F).
Combine tea and water into a gallon container and steep for 5-10 minutes (depending on the type of tea being used).
Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
Fill the container with room temperature water (can use cold water if desired). Make sure to leave about 2-3 inches of space at the top.
Wait until the mixture cools to below 85-degrees F.
Add SCOBY and starter liquid. If the water is too hot the SCOBY will die! This sounds dramatic, but it's alive.
Cover the top of the container with the cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
Place mixture in a warm, dark place, and do NOT disturb for 7 days!
After 7 days place a straw below the SCOBY and taste: If it is too tart or off-tasting, reduce the number of days, try a different tea, steep less time, or use less tea. If it is too sweet, allow brewing for a few more days. Make sure to check once a day. Kombucha can be brewed for up to 30 days. The longer it is held the less sweet it becomes and the more vinegary it will taste.
Once it has reached the level of taste you are looking for, remove the SCOBY and store it with 1-2 cups of kombucha for your next batch in a clean jar covered with a lid and stored in a pantry. (Note: Do not use any metal utensils at this point.)
Hooray! You can now enjoy your kombucha! Drink straight or flavored with other herbs and spices for unique taste profiles. Be sure to place the kombucha in the refrigerator and sip chilled. Alternately, you can store the kombucha for a couple more days to add a little fizz to the drink. (Note: If a baby SCOBY develops, just remove it before consuming.)
Post your photos online and tag #hulaconsulting so we can see how amazingly well you've done!
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