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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Homemade Kombucha Tea - A healthy drink, and easy to make

I was introduced to Kombucha tea and it’s benefits from the blog Wild Roots Homestead last year.  I started buying the raw bottled stuff here in town, but I really wanted to make my own.  After a while I quit buying it because it’s over $3 per bottle.  December of last year a friend passed on to me a Kombucha baby (more about what this is later).  It was a crazy time and I was starting a new job and I just stuck the little canning jar it was in, in the back of my fridge.  I am working with ill children, somehow it didn’t occur to me that sick kids were happy to share their germs.  I know, go figure! I was  sick pretty much non-stop from December until March.  After ending up on steroids and antibiotics 3 times, I decided I needed to do something.  I finally remembered the kombucha mushroom in the back of my fridge and decided it was time to make my tea.
 My favorite store bought brand of Kombucha, and some of my homemade kombucha

Kombucha tea is a centuries old fermented tea that originated in China.  The Kombucha “mushroom”, also referred to as the “mother” or “SCOBY” is not really a mushroom, but a colony of bacteria and  yeast.  It is high in b vitamins and and beneficial enzymes, amino acids, and polyphenols.  There are limited studies on Kombucha, so no real medical backing to it’s health clamis. Generally there are not trials done on natural remedies where money is not likely to be made from them.  The CDC cautions about kombucha tea because of the potential risk of contamination because it is brewed at home.  Here is a link you can check out for yourselves. CDC

I was not convinced it is a health risk after reading it, and families have been benefiting from drinking it for thousands of years.  Some of the possible benefits attributed to the drink are prevention of cancer, relief of arthritis, treatment of insomnia, and regrowth of hair, and boost the immune system. There are many resources online about the benefits of the tea, here is a link to one that talks about some studies done on it. 

I have found the drink to be pleasant once you get used to it, it’s a bit vinegary, fizzy, refreshing and pleasant. A friend described it as “strange, but in a good way”.   It has not been harmful to me, and I have had a month free of illness, my first since December.  My kids have drunk it too without any ill effects.  These are just my personal experiences and I am not making any medical claims or recommendations, especially for anyone with illness or health conditions.  I recommend you do your own research and speak with your medical provider, and come to your own conclusions.

It is really simple to make, and for pennies compared to the high price for purchasing it at the store.  Here is a link to the web site I used to make my tea. Kombucha instructions

You will need:  

A Kombucha Culture (This can be purchased online, or you can get one from a friend.  When the mother culture grows, it will split making a “baby” culture that can be passed on to friends)
A pot to boil 2-4 quarts of water
2-3 oz of white sugar per quart of water ( I use organic cane sugar)
Organic black or green tea
A glass jar large enough to hold 2-4 quarts
A cloth or paper towel
A rubber band
Glass jars with lids

When the kombucha baby is small start with the lower water amounts, and as it grows and becomes larger, you can use the larger amounts of water.  Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar and stir till dissolved, add the tea bags and let sit for 20 minutes.  Then remove the tea bags and let sit until 77 degrees or less. 
When cooled, place in a clean glass jar large enough to hold the liquid and leave room at the top.  Hopefully your kombucha culture will come with some of the liquid brew to speed things along.  If it does not, I highly recommend adding 3 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar.  This helps increase the acidity and decrease the likelihood of having undesired bacteria grow in the culture.  I learned this the hard way and had to throw out a batch and the culture because mold grew on top.  After having this happen, it was obvious when there was a problem.  A healthy brew will smell like vinegar.  When it was contaminated it stunk and mold was clearly growing on the culture. 

 Cover the jar with a cloth or paper towel and secure it with a rubber band.  Put in a warm place in your home for 8-12 days or until it reaches your desired taste. It needs to be a breathable fabric because it needs air. My friend does hers for a whole month and it’s mostly like pure vinegar, I leave mine about 12-14 days or slightly longer in the winter when my house is cooler.  I like it to be somewhat vinegary but still a little sweet too.  The culture will grow and cover the top of the liquid.  Google some pictures of healthy kombucha mushrooms so you can tell when it looks right or wrong.  

When ready, remove the culture and place on a plate.  Pour the tea into jars.  I find that smaller glass jars work the best. The drink will get fizzier if kept in smaller quantities, and if put into a large jar it will lose its fizz before you drink it all.  I kept my jars from when I was purchasing the tea and reused those.  To be safe I do put them in a hot water bath to kill any bacteria that could be in the jar.  When the jars a cool, put in some juice or fruit of your choice, I recommend organic.  I like citrus, so I have used a tablespoon of lemon per 16 oz jar, ¼ of a lime, and 1/8 of a pink grapefruit per jar also.  All turned out delicious.  Basically it can be drunk plain, or flavored with any juice your choose.  Fill the jars all the way full and cap.  The lack of air slows the fermentation process and is what makes the fizz.  Once bottled, leave on the counter for 5 days.  Refrigerate till cool, then drink up.  It can stay in the refrigerator for quite a long time, but could not find any specifics.  There will be small amounts of “floaties” that’s part of the live cultures and is normal. Don’t leave out of the fridge for long periods of time, or the bottles can explode.  I’ve heard you should start with 2-4 ounces daily at first because it can cause stomach upset and allergies are possible.  

It sounds much harder than it is.  Give it a try!  Enjoy!

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1 comment:

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