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If you’ve been to any health food stores lately, you’ve probably seen kombucha tea on the shelf. You’ve heard about this healthy drink, but what exactly does it do and what’s it taste like? We’ll teach you everything you need to know about kombucha tea including what it is, its benefits and risks as well as how to make it yourself.
What Is Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha is fermented black or green tea and is made up of bacteria, tea and sugar. Although you may just be hearing about it, it’s not a new concoction — in fact, it dates back 2,000 years to ancient China. This tea-based beverage is known for improving digestion, decreasing stress and increasing your energy. The drink can be a bit powerful with its vinegary smell and a taste that many have described as rotten and tart (along with many other less desirable descriptors).
What Is a Kombucha SCOBY?
SCOBY stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It is responsible for turning the sweet green or black tea into a probiotic drink. The kombucha SCOBY is composed of beneficial living organisms that turn sugar into acids and probiotics that are healthy.
SCOBY is the unappealing rubbery circle that covers the top of the tea to keep air from contacting it. Thanks to the SCOBY, green and black tea can become kombucha tea because it allows the tea to ferment in an air free environment. If handled properly, a SCOBY can last multiple years and be used for generations.
You may also hear a SCOBY called a “mushroom” which is why kombucha tea is often called mushroom tea. The SCOBY is also called “the mother” because it can create a secondary culture (or baby) on top of itself, which can be used to brew additional batches of kombucha.
What Are the Benefits of Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha has been used as an at-home remedy for constipation, acne, headaches, arthritis, fatigue and more. It is even thought to prevent cancer. The antioxidants help strengthen your immune system and the gluconic acid and probiotics detox your body. Learn more about the benefits of tea.
Other kombucha health benefits include:
- improved pancreas function
- improved mood
- may be beneficial for weight loss
Potential Risks of Kombucha
Although there are many health benefits of kombucha tea, it’s important to know that there are some risks that come along with it and some possible side effects.
- Pregnant women, nursing mothers and anyone with a medical condition should consult a physician before consuming.
- Some experience bloating after drinking it, especially if you have not had it before.
- If made incorrectly kombucha may contain harmful bacteria. This is rare but more common with people making kombucha from home.
- Fermenting kombucha in a ceramic container can be dangerous because the acid in the drink can extract lead from the container and be drunk in the kombucha itself.
- Because of its acidity, dental problems may occur. To avoid dental problems, do the following:
- drink in one sitting (don’t sip throughout the day)
- swish with clean water after drinking (don’t brush)
Kombucha RecipeIf you want to try making your own batch of kombucha you can find a basic recipe for it below. This recipe was found in The Big Book of Kombucha.
|Container Size||Maximum Size of Batch||Tea Bags or|
|Sugar||SCOBYs||Starter Liquid||Brew Days|
|1/2 gallon||6 cups||2-3 or|
|6 tablespoons||1 small||1/2-1 cup||3-7|
|1 gallon||3/4 gallon||3-5 or|
|3/4 cup||1 large: 6 inches across, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, 4-6 ounces||1 cup||7-14|
|1 1/2 gallons||1 gallon||4-6 or|
|1 cup||1 large: 6 inches across, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, 4-6 ounces||1-2 cups||7-21|
|2 gallons||1 1/2 gallons||6-9 or|
|1 1/2 cups||2 large: 6 inches across, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, 4-6 ounces||2 cups||10-24|
After you decide your batch size, do the following:
We have linked some recommended supplies in the steps below in case you need to buy any items for your kombucha kit. However, if you want to buy the supplies all in one, checkout this kombucha starter kit from GetKombucha.
- Wash hands and equipment thoroughly
- Make black/green tea (Read more about the benefits of black tea and green tea)
- Add sugar
- Let tea cool and place in glass container
- Add one cup of brewed raw kombucha (or two tablespoons apple cider vinegar)
- Place the Scoby on top of the mixture
- Cover the glass container with a cheesecloth or organic cloth and a rubber band
- Let it brew at room temperature for 7-14 days
- Remove and save the SCOBY and one cup of liquid to use in your next batch of kombucha
- Pour kombucha into individual bottles that have been sterilized and let sit unrefrigerated for 1-2 weeks.
- Refrigerate and drink!
Where to Get a SCOBY
Kombucha Challenge: DON’T TRY THIS! NO, SERIOUSLY – DON’T!!
While researching for this article we came across this video of a man doing “The Extreme Kombucha Challenge”. If he truly drank three liters of kombucha followed up by a large SCOBY, it’s amazing he’s still alive. While we definitely do not recommend doing this, it is rather entertaining to watch and more than two million people agree with us.
Why do you want to make your own kombucha?