Monday, March 15, 2010

Kombucha Tea - Benefits and Recipe

Our little guy enjoys about 1/3 cup of kombucha tea mixed with a different kind of brewed tea.  Today it is mixed with a pomegranate/peach tea and honey.

We are always working on planting and growing around here.  Gut health is nothing different.  Any time we can add healthy, live, different cultures, we do.  I like whole foods, natural, complete and nutrient dense.  Just think of your gut as a garden that needs fed, nurtured, tended and replanted on a regular basis.... then you are good to go.

Kombucha Tea is just another way to add a light, refreshing drink full of beneficial bacteria.  This is the "seed" that you want to add in.  It is full of enzymes and live cultures.  I will go ahead and list all of the reported benefits.... but my personal belief is that most health begins in your gut and if you tend to your gut.... your health will improve.

Don't get too tangled up in your particular health "issue".  Just begin a nutrient dense diet (this is the Phase One program) and eliminate processed foods.  Simple, right?  (OK, I'm joking.... if it was simple we would all be bursting with outrageous health).  So, back to the real world.

Step by step, day by day, choice by choice..... add health wherever you can.   This will allow you to "step" your way out of health problems.   Wherever you are on the health scale, give your body what it needs to function, help digest everything, eliminate the stuff that is either not helpful or downright evil and walk up the ladder of abundant health.

Unless you are independently wealthy, you are going to need to make most of your food.  It is better that way anyway.  You can then have life and energy in what you feed your family.  Kombucha Tea is one way to make that happen.  So.....

What is Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha Tea is a cultured tea.  The culture contains a symbiosis of acetic acid bacteria and yeast that are bound together by a surrounding thin membrane.  The culture itself looks somewhat like a large pancake, and is often called a mushroom, a mother or a SCOVY  (for "Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast"), it is scientifically classified as a zoogleal mat.

Kombucha contains quite a few different cultures along with several organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids, and polyphenols. For the home brewer, there is no way to know the amounts of the components.   Your version of the brew may contain some of the following components depending on the source of the culture:  

  • Lactic Acid found in Kombucha in its most potent form L-lactic(+). Lactic acid is essential for the digestive system.
  • Acetic Acid's main function is to inhibit harmful bacteria. Acetic acid is used as a preservative because of this action. It is also what gives Kombucha that 'kick' to its smell and taste.
  • Malic Acid is also used in the body's detoxification process.
  • Oxalic Acid encourages the cellular production of energy and is a natural preservative.
  • Gluconic Acid is effective against many yeast infections such as candidiasis and thrush.
  • Butyric Acid is produced by the yeasts and when working with gluconic acid. Might help combat yeast infections such as candida.
  • Nucleic Acid,  Work with the body aiding healthy cell regeneration.
  • Amino Acid,  A group of acids which are the building blocks of protein. Your muscular system is made of proteins.
  • Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts, speeding the rate at which biochemical reactions proceed.
  • Kombucha also contains Vitamin Groups B and C, Beneficial Yeasts and live bacteria.

Where did it come from?

It is probable that this drink originated in Russia.  It was used in various forms throughout Asia though, so it is doubtful if anyone knows exactly where this started.

What health benefits can you expect?

Since I already covered my personal opinion, here are a couple of others.  Kombucha Tea appears to assist the liver in processing toxic stuff out of your body instead of "recycling" it to be processed over and over again.  It also appears to be somewhat helpful as an assistant to help your gut recover from the common assault of antibiotics or chemotherapy or to help with human immunodeficiency virus...  Probably because of the beneficial liver properties and the live culture, but that is just a guess on my part.

How do you make it?

Because of the acidity of Kombucha tea, it should not be prepared or stored in containers made from materials such as ceramic or lead crystal, which both contain toxic elements than can leach into the tea. Needless to say, I am not a fan of making it in plastic either.  I just use a glass gallon or 1/2 gallon jar with a unpaper towel towel on the top.

The first step is to obtain a healthy Kombucha. In some parts of old China and Japan, it was often the custom for families to give a new bride a Kombucha as a wedding gift. This was nurtured throughout her marriage and then passed on to her own daughter.  So, once you have your first Kombucha, now you can share!   Because it is a living organism, it grows to fit the shape of its container. New layers grow on top of the old and can be peeled off to start new cultures.
NOTE: The first thing you should do is to clean everything that you are going to use to make your organic Kombucha tea.  When you are making live foods, it is a good idea to use soap and hot water liberally to keeping everyone healthy.

Start with 1 gallon of non-chlorinated water, bring the water to a boil and tear the tags off of 8 teabags.  Either green or black tea can be used.   Place the tea bags in the boiling water and shut off. Set timer for 12 minutes. Take the teabags out of water and stir in 1 cup of sugar. Let stand until cool. Pour into gallon glass jug and add Kombucha Culture with the tea it was stored in. Place cloth over the top and secure with rubber bands. 

Let sit for undisturbed for 7 days in cool dark area of your kitchen. You will see the original mother (culture) on the bottom and a new baby culture floating on top. Carefully remove both cultures without touching with fingers. (I use a wooden spoon and wooden chopsticks). You can give one culture away to family and friends or store cultures in separate glass jars.  Make sure you add a cup of tea to each container.  Keep one Kombucha Culture for yourself (label it) to keep a healthy supply of this tea. Cultures can be stored up to a year when refrigerated. Strain the remaining fermented tea through cheesecloth into a glass container and cover with lid or cloth.  

Never allow tea to come into contact with metal after it is fermented. To make a new batch just follow directions over again. 

Kid in a Crock

I was blessed beyond measure by the gift of a GREAT BIG crock this weekend from my very sweet cousin.  I am looking forward to filling it to the rim with sauerkraut as soon as possible, and this summer some pickles from Mexican Sour Gherkin's from my all time favorite seed company...  Baker Creek Seeds!

Does it get any better than that?  A little red headed grandson playing in Grammie's new crock.... Now that is good.