KOMBUCHA brewing and associated information for sharing

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Kombucha - what is it? What's it's history? How to make it.

 

Kombucha

What's It's History?

The first recorded use of Kombucha was in 221 B.C. during the Chinese empire of the Tsin-Dynasty. They called it “The remedy for immortality” or the “divine tische”.

In 414 A.D. Dr. Kombu from Korea brought Kombucha to Japan to treat the Japanese emperor Inkyo. From Japan, this incredible tonic spread to Russia, Europe, and India.

In the early 1950's, Soviet scientists were researching the large increase in cancer that had occurred after World War II. They sent two teams of researchers to two districts in the region of Perm on the Kama river of the Ural mountains where there were hardly any incidences of cancer occurring. They discovered that despite living in an area highly contaminated by lead, asbestos, and mercury, these people were experiencing no illness. Investigating further, they found that almost all the households were drinking “tea kvass” the Russian word for Kombucha.

After the war Dr. Rudolph Skelnar created renewed interest in Kombucha in Germany (those clever Germans in the 50s again!) When he used it in his practice to treat cancer patients, metabolic disorders, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Today, Kombucha is becoming increasingly recognized as a delicious beverage that has many health benefits. It's so easy to "brew" it can be done by anyone at home with basic utensils and no previous knowledge and it doesn't take a lot of time. All you need is a Kombucha culture called a s.c.o.b.y. - see below.

 What is it?

Kombucha is a living health drink which has been used for thousands of years to help stimulate the metabolism and maintain a healthy immune system.

Recently, Kombucha has become even more well-known for its ability to increase the effectiveness of natural detoxification processes and replenish vital organic acids and enzymes required by the body for optimal health.

The Kombucha culture looks like a beige or white rubbery pancake. It's often called a “s.c.o.b.y.” which stands for ' symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts.' The culture is placed in sweetened black, white or green tea and turns the tea into a sea of health giving organic acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and nutrients. The Kombucha culture feeds on the sugar and, in exchange, produces other valuable substances such as: glucuronic acid, glucon acid, lactic acid, vitamins, and amino acids. Kombucha also contains beneficial bacteria in the form of Lactobacillus Acidophilus, as well as dozens of other probiotic strains. By ingesting Kombucha, we can increase the amounts of good bacteria in our bodies to maintain a healthy digestive tract. Kombucha has been known to possess anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal components which make it a powerful addition to the health conscious individual.

How Does It Work?

The live, active cultures present in Kombucha remain dormant until they come into contact with the sugars in the digestive system. Kombucha thrives on these excess sugars and binds to toxins commonly found in the diet, clearing the way for the body to absorb the full nutrient content of the foods we eat. While the probiotics in Kombucha are detoxifying the digestive system, they are also producing organic acids and B Vitamins which speed the cleansing process, creating a wealth of rejuvenating effects throughout the body.

The boost of probiotic strains provided by Kombucha helps to flush out harmful bacteria and pathogens by regulating the level of acidity in the digestive tract.

Kombucha has been documented by various users as having the following effects. Because it:

  • contains probiotics & beneficial “good” yeasts

  • alkalizes the body (regulates the body’s pH)

  • detoxifies the liver

  • increases metabolism

  • improves digestion

  • relieves constipation

  • prevents cancer forming cell production

  • reduces blood pressure

  • relieves headaches & migraines

  • aids healthy cell regeneration

  • reduces kidney stones

  • high in polyphenols

  • clears acne (highly recommended for the treatment of bacteria born acne eruptions)

  • improves eyesight efficiency

  • reduces eczema – softens the skin

  • prevents arteriosclerosis (a thickening and hardening of arteries that causes cardiovascular complications)

  • speeds healing of ulcers

  • beautifies hair & reduces greyness

  • helps clear up Candida & other yeast infestations

  • boosts energy – helps with chronic fatigue

  • is high in antioxidants (destroys free-radicals that cause cancer)

  • rebuilds connective tissue - helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism etc. (these are all auto-immune system disorders – where your body’s immune system is malfunctioning)

 

You are probably thinking, “Nothing can do all that!”

Well, you’re correct – in a way – it doesn’t directly DO any of the things listed above of itself - as with a specific medicine for a specific ailment  (it’s not a “Dr Feelgood Cure All Snake Medicine!”). However, it activates your body to do those things that it was designed to do in a perfect environment. We don’t live in a perfect environment anymore.

The truth is that we are born with an amazingly powerful immune system that helps our body repair and rebuild. However, we are bombarded with toxins from the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and so forth. This has greatly reduced the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

It’s not magic, neither is it a miracle cure all. It just makes you healthier from within. As a result you start feeling energized and the aches & pains of auto-immune system disorders start to lessen. It WON’T make you live forever though!

Kombucha is NOT a panacea – it just makes you healthier!

The beauty of Kombucha is that it helps brings the body back into balance (specifically the body’s pH). Then, Kombucha provides a small boost of certain key acids and enzymes that the body naturally lacks but needs in order to function properly. With these assists, the body is free to work more efficiently and HEAL ITSELF NATURALLY.

Also, Kombucha is adaptogenic which means that it normalises the body and protects it from stressors in the environment. So, depending on what your body specifically needs, Kombucha works to help bring that into balance – as a pure example, some people may lose weight, while others may gain weight after they start taking Kombucha. If your body is already in good balance you won’t notice much difference. If it’s unhealthy and out of balance you’ll sometimes see an immediate and profound improvement. It may take longer for some to achieve that balance (depending on your personal chemistry), but without a shadow of doubt, over the longer term you’ll definately see a marked improvement in your overall health and energy levels.

On a personal note, I would not listen to EVERYTHING that's said about Kombucha. Only take on board what has been proven in trials. We have to keep our feet on the ground. Whilst it may have a superb effect on some of it's users who are suffering poor health, others (probably due to their adequate level of health & fitness) probably won't be so impressed.

Also, as with many alternative cures and elixirs some people go over the top. I've read of people attributing magical powers to it and some even believe it communicates with them telepathically from it's glass jar in the corner of their living room! These sort of accounts often come from people who also have regular alien abduction experiences and sometimes think they are a teapot for whole days at a time - you probably get my drift! However there ARE well documented scientific records, especially from our Russian & German friends that this brewed drink IS generally good for our health, and it's beneficial effects have been properly witnessed.

How Do You Make It?

The Basics - what you'll need:

  • 1 Kombucha culture (s.c.o.b.y.)

  • 2 litres of water

  • 5 or 6 tea bags or 5 - 6 teaspoons of tea (green, white, or black)

  • 300 grams of white sugar

  • 200 ml of Kombucha from a previous batch as a starter or 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar if you don't have any Kombucha.

To make larger batches just increase the ingredients used in the correct ratio

The Equipment:

  • A 3 litre glass Pyrex bowl

  • A tea towel for covering the bowl

  • A rubber band or piece of elastic to secure the tea towel

  • A teapot or saucepan to make the tea in

  • A measuring jug that can measure 2 litres

  • A scale to measure the sugar

  • A strainer

  • Some bottles for storing the finished drink

The Method

A Note on Cleanliness

Make sure everything is very clean when handling Kombucha. It's a living culture, a complex system of bacteria and yeasts and you don't want to risk contaminating it. Use freshly cleaned hands, clean jars and clean non metallic implements.

imageMaking  the tea

Make a pot of tea with the tea bags and leave it to brew for 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively add your tea to a saucepan and simmer it gently for 5 minutes.

Strain the tea into your measuring jug, add the sugar and stir it until it dissolves. Now let it cool to body temperature at least, or add cold water to bring the tea up to 2 litres. Hot tea can kill the culture. It should be no more than blood heat before you add it to your culture, so if it’s still too warm then let it cool down before you add it to the bowl.

Making the brew

Add the starter.

Into the Pyrex bowl put the starter liquid from the previous batch of Kombucha. If this is your first batch then use 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar as your starter, (It adds the acid environment the culture likes) or some commercial Kombucha if you have some. Once you’ve made your first batch you’ll have your own Kombucha to use as a starter on the next batch.

Pour the cool  tea into the bowl

Make sure your tea is cool before you add it to the Kombucha culture! Hot tea can kill the culture. It should be no more than blood heat before you add it to your starter.

 

Add the Kombucha s.c.o.b.y..

Pick up your s.c.o.b.y. and slide it into the bowl. It will probably float but sometimes they sink. It will make no difference if it floats or sinks so don’t worry about it. If the s.c.o.b.y. has a 'dirty' side where it's darker in colour and has beard-like brown bits sticking to it then put that side facing down into the tea. The brown bits are just harmless yeasts.

Cover it and leave it to ferment

Put your tea towel over the bowl and secure it with a rubber band or a piece of elastic. This keeps contamination out of your culture. Fruit flies especially like the smell of Kombucha and can appear like magic out of thin air to lay their eggs in the s.c.o.b.y.. So it’s important to cover it properly.

Put the bowl in a warm dark place (23°-30°C or 70°-86°F) like an airing cupboard or in a kitchen cupboard or near a radiator.
And that’s it!

Checking The Brew

The fermentation will take 5-14 days depending on the temperature. If you check your brew after 2 or 3 days you’ll notice a scum forming on the surface. It’s not scum at all; it’s the first thin membrane of your new Kombucha s.c.o.b.y..

Start tasting the brew after 4 or 5 days. Gently move the s.c.o.b.y. aside and dip a spoon into the liquid, or a more refined method is to dip a straw in to suck out a small amount  to taste. When the Kombucha is ready it should be neither too sweet nor too sour. This is rather a personal taste and will depend on how much sugar you want left in the brew. Some like it sweet but others prefer it sour. If you suffer with diabetes I have no need to tell you that for you it needs ro be well brewed and more on the sour side (for obvious reasons). It’s up to you, so test it every day until its the way you like it.

image

 

The round creamy blob is the starter culture. All around it is a thin new culture developing and you can see bubbles under the surface.

 

 

 

 

image

 

 

In this close up the new s.c.o.b.y. is lifted off the surface of the Kombucha so you can see how thin and transparent it is compared to the starter s.c.o.b.y. at the bottom of the photo. The yellow sediment floating in the brew are yeasts and quite natural.

Bottling

When the Kombucha is ready, with clean hands gently lift the mother culture and it’s offspring out onto a clean plate. The "child" culture can be passed on to someone else who wants to start brewing, or you can use it for another batch thereby doubling your output!

imageStrain the Kombucha into your measuring jug leaving behind about 200ml in the bowl as a starter for the next batch.

Now fill your clean bottles with the Kombucha, label them and store them in a cupboard or the fridge. You can use any kinds of bottles but some batches will be a lot fizzier than others and it's a good idea to use pop bottles, like the Grolsh bottles, that have rubber gaskets on them. This kind of bottle will let out any excess pressure and prevent explosions!

After bottling your Kombucha make up a second batch of tea for the culture and set your second brew to ferment.

Kombucha is ready to drink immediately, but storing the bottled Kombucha for a month or two will give you an even better drink. This kind of bottle conditioning can improve the flavour as any home wine brewer will know. The sugar continues to ferment a little, giving you lighter, drier taste and producing more fizz.

The Kombucha will often grow little s.c.o.b.y.s on the top of the liquid in the bottles. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about but look out for them when you take your first mouthful!

You are now ready to drink your first home made Kombucha!

ENJOY!

The Next Batch

Now you can make a second batch of sweet tea and when it’s cool add it to the bowl and the waiting starter. Then add your s.c.o.b.y. and put the tea towel back over the bowl and put the bowl away to ferment.

For your first 2 or 3 batches it’s a good idea to use both the mother and the baby together until the new s.c.o.b.y. thickens up. When they are new they can be paper thin. With each brewing a new layer will form on top and your s.c.o.b.y. will get thicker. Then, when it's somewhere between a quarter and a half an inch thick, you can gently separate the mother and baby and use the mother to start off a second brew.

Each s.c.o.b.y. will grow with each brew, gradually getting thicker. You can leave them like this and occasionally peel of a layer from the bottom and discard it. Or you can separate them and either pass new s.c.o.b.y.s on to friends or store them as spares in another jar of sweet tea which you can keep in the fridge to slow down fermentation. It’s useful to have spares in case your active culture becomes contaminated and you need to discard the Kombucha and the s.c.o.b.y. and start again.

image

A close up of the same s.c.o.b.y. as above after the second batch has been brewed. You can see it has thickened up and is now a creamy colour rather than transparent.

Notes and Variations

Containers

imageThe Kombucha culture needs oxygen for the fermentation. A Pyrex bowl gives a large surface area and is an excellent brewing container. But you can use taller jars to brew the Kombucha, it will simply take longer to brew because there's a smaller surface area exposed to oxygen. So 5-10 days in a bowl becomes more like 10-20 days in a jar.

Several brewing suppliers now carry Kombucha fermenting jars They are wide mouthed jars, usually sat in a wicker container that helps to keep the light out. A 3 litre pickle or sweet jar will do very well too.

Temperature

Kombucha likes a steady temperature of 23°-30°C (or 70°-86°F). A steady temperature gives a more consistent brew. In summer when the air is warm this isn't too difficult. Keeping the brew in an airing cupboard will keep it at a constant temperature too. But if you can't do that then in the winter as the temperature changes from cold to warm with the central heating in modern homes there will be a fluctuation in the brewing time and possibly in fizziness and taste too. The Kombucha Network UK sell heating trays specially for Kombucha.

Tea

Kombucha requires tea for its fermentation. That's real tea (Camellia Sinensis) not herbal tea. Use black, oolong, green or white tea and look for organic tea as contaminants in some commercial teas can affect the culture.

Kombucha can be also be sensitive to strong aromatic oils. A tea like Earl Grey that contains Bergamot oil, can sometimes kill or badly affect the culture. So avoid these types of flavoured tea.

Sugar

White sugar is cheap and works very well. Organic white sugar would be even better. Sugar is used by the yeasts during fermentation, and is broken down and transformed into acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and carbon dioxide. Sugar is also involved in the propagation of the Kombucha culture. It uses the sugar to build the s.c.o.b.y.. At the end of the fermentation period, if done correctly, the sugar will have been virtually all converted and there should be little or no sugar left in the Kombucha. Using raw brown sugars can give the brew a bad taste and result in poor culture formation.

Water

Chlorine added to water supplies to kill harmful bacteria will, unfortunately, also affect the millions of friendly bacteria in Kombucha. That’s why the water you use for brewing your Kombucha tea should be filtered. This can be done with a cartridge and jug, or a system plumbed in under the sink. Jug filters will remove chlorine from water and make it taste better. However, only the best quality water filters will remove aluminium, bacteria and heavy metals, like lead, along with organic pollutants like herbicides and pesticides.

If you don't have a filter then bring to the boil 2.5 litres of water in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. This will remove chlorine and fluoride and other unpleasant things. You need more than your 2 litres to allow for evaporation. However you'll need to let this sit until it's cool before using it to make your Kombucha.


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Last updated 1496 days ago by Webmaster/ Site Administrator

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