Kombucha: Digestive and Anti-Cancer Elixir?
Each week, there seem to be new products appearing on our supermarkets shelves… it can be really difficult to know which ones have actual health benefits, and which ones should be avoided. To save you from having to do the research, let’s have a look at kombucha together, the various health effects attributed to it (and which ones are scientifically verified!), and what precautions you need to take if you want to make kombucha at home.
Kombucha originates from China, where it has been consumed for over 2,000 years. Doctor Kombu made it known outside of China, hence its name. This drink is consumed in several Asian and European countries, and more recently in America.
Kombucha is a fermented drink that contains only three main ingredients: sugar, tea and scoby (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), to which are added water and other ingredients to improve the flavor.
Scoby, also called the mother of kombucha, or the tea mushroom, is in fact a symbiotic culture of various bacteria and yeast. It is possible to grow your own scoby from a store-bought bottle of kombucha, for more information on how to do so, visit this article.
Making Kombucha at Home
Here is the base recipe for all kombuchas (taken from The Kitchn):
- Bring water to the boil, add sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Add a few teabags (usually black tea) and steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the teabags and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Add the scoby and pour everything into a large glass container.
- Cover with a paper towel or kitchen towel and let it ferment for 6 to 10 days at room temperature. A second scoby will form on top of the original one, this is completely normal!
- After the fermentation period, filter the mix and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to drink it. Kombucha can be kept in the fridge for several months. If you notice the taste has changed, it may be better to throw it away.
If you’re ready to dive into making your own kombucha, there are certain things you absolutely must not do. Firstly, ceramic pots are to be avoided at all costs. This is because the acidic nature of kombucha can make the lead in ceramic leach into the kombucha. There have been cases of lead poisoning, but this problem is easily avoided by using a glass container for brewing.
Secondly, you have to be extra careful with hygiene when you prepare kombucha at home. The conditions for fermentation are particularly suitable to the propagation of good bacteria, but also the not-so-good ones. In non-sterile conditions (like at home) the risk of contamination by bad bacteria is much higher.
And then things turn to vinegar…
You also need to be careful not to let the kombucha mixture ferment too long. A fermentation of more than 14 days can turn the mixture into vinegar and can have negative effects on your body if you drink too much of it.