By Asha Kreiling
It seems that every few months a new so-called super food or miracle drink that supposedly provides impressive health benefits and cures stubborn ailments appears on the market. Many of these food trends, such as goji berries, acai berries, chia seeds, and kombucha, do indeed have medicinal qualities and are nutrient rich, but many of them are just that — trends.
Kombucha tea is said to have originated in ancient East Asia and spread to the West at the turn of the century. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, ever since health food stores started carrying bottles of kombucha tea in various colors and flavors, and advertisements have touted its powerful antioxidant content and medicinal properties. Kombucha’s rise in popularity is part of a growing raw, organic, and probiotic food movement; but many people simply enjoy its unique fizzy, fermented quality.
Kombucha tea is made by fermenting sweetened tea with live bacteria and yeast, and is sometimes infused with fruit juices and other flavorings. It has a sour, vinegary taste and very mild carbonation. A slimy layer of bacteria cultures rest at the bottom of the bottle until your last sip. Kombucha is often mistakenly referred to as a mushroom tea, but it is called so only because after the tea ferments, the colony of bacteria and yeast forms a mushroom-like shape and color. The resulting beverage contains various B vitamins (which support the immune system and improve metabolism), antioxidants (which fight off free radicals, molecules that damage cells and can cause disease), and a small amount of alcohol.
Kombucha tea is promoted as a panacea for a wide range of conditions, including liver dysfunction, indigestion, depression, heart burn, arthritis, baldness, and even AIDS and cancer. Kombucha proponents say that kombucha can boost the immune system and slow the aging process. With its high levels of antioxidiants, kombucha tea is said to detoxify the body and improve the body’s defenses.
Unfortunately, as with many highly touted food fads, there is little scientific evidence to prove kombucha’s miracle healing properties. No studies on humans to support any of the claims made about kombucha tea’s ability to slow aging, boost the immune system, and cure ailments have been published in scientific literature. Regardless of the lacking scientific evidence on kombucha’s magic, it is still highly vitamin- and antioxidant-rich and a probiotic.
- 6 tablespoons of black tea
- 1 cup white sugar
- Boiling water
- Sanitized gallon jar
- Paper towel and rubber band
- Kombucha “mushroom” and approximately ¼ cup of the kombucha liquid.
Check out this site to see how to grow your own kombucha mushroom or “scoby” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) using store bought bottled kombucha tea: http://www.foodrenegade.com/how-to-grow-a-kombucha-scoby/
- Boil about half a gallon of water and brew the tea. Steep for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags or strain loose tea leaves.
- Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Boil the another half gallon of water, then let cool to room temperature, along with the tea.
- Once it reaches about room temperature, add the boiled water to the tea up to about 3 inches below the rim of the jar.
- Place your kombucha mushroom on the surface of the tea, and add the ¼ kombucha liquid it came in.
- Place a paper towel over the lid and place a rubber band over it.
- Put the gallon jar in a undisturbed location where the temperature will not change much.
- Let the tea brew for at least one week, though two – four weeks is best.
- After the kombucha is finished brewing, pour the tea through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher or jar.
- Remove the kombucha mushroom, but leave the cultures on the bottom.
- You can re-use your kombucha mushroom for future brews.
Here’s another great step-by-step guide on homemade kombucha: