In honor of Valentine’s Day last weekend, I want to tell you about our latest health love-Kombucha. (For those of you totally new to kombucha it’s pronounced kom-booch-ah and also referred to as “buch”.) I read about kombucha a couple of years ago, but had more questions than answers for a long time. What exactly is it? What does it taste like? What is that “thing” in it when you make it? and Can that really be good for you?
If you’re anything like I was, then your asking some of those same questions. Or maybe you’ve never heard of kombucha. Either way, I hope to answer these questions and tell you why you should consider drinking and even making kombucha!
Let’s start with what exactly is Kombucha? It is a fermented tea that originated in the Ural mountain region of Russia and has been around for hundreds of years. Specifically it is made from sweet tea-yes that’s right tea with sugar-that has been fermented or cultured with a Symbiotic Colony Of Yeast and Bacteria (SCOBY). This SCOBY is sometimes referred to as a mushroom because of it’s look and texture, but it is not a true fungus. The SCOBY feeds on the sugar in the tea and produces millions of lactobacilli-specifically S. Boulardii, acetic and lactic acid and glucuronic acid. The end result is a drink that is low or devoid of sugar but filled with tons of probiotics and beneficial acid which aids in digestion.
By now, we’ve all heard about probiotics and how we need them to support our digestion and immune system. But we don’t hear much about glucuronic acid. This acid is produced by the liver and aids the body in ridding itself of toxins. But most of our bodies today have overworked livers because of all the toxins we encounter from our food to our environment. Sally Fallon says in her book Nourishing Traditions, “additional glucuronic acid taken in the form of kombucha is said to be a powerful aid to the body’s natural cleansing process, a boost to the immune system and a proven prophylactic against cancer and other degenerative diseases.”
As a by-product of the fermentation, trace amounts of alcohol are found kombucha. I must admit, this is one of the main reasons it took me so long to try kombucha. I don’t drink alcohol and was concerned about kombucha being alcoholic. So let me clear things up if your wondering too. Although there is a trace amount of alcohol left in the finished product, kombucha is not in the same realm as beer or wine-although with MUCH intentional work, you could get an alcoholic product. Kombucha can be bought at health food stores and many grocery stores. We buy ours at Publix. There is no checking of your age or license and my kids happily guzzle it down. The tiny amount of alcohol is very easily metabolized into the body with no after effects. Even if you make your own kombucha, and let it ferment for months, you would get a finished product more like vinegar than alcohol. Yes, it is possible to get kombucha to become alcoholic, but it is a hard process which requires adding yeast, pasteurization (killing off all the probiotics), or even adding beer to it. Needless to say, unless your trying to get hammered and go searching for some alcoholic buch, you’re going to have a hard time getting a buzz.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what exactly does it taste like? Well, that depends. Store bought kombucha is very carbonated-which I love, but my husband doesn’t care too much for. (Although he likes cokes and other carbonated drinks.) I prefer the fruit flavored kombucha to plain as these have a sweeter and tangier taste. They are similar to Sprite or other clear sodas in flavor. Home brewed kombucha has a wider range of taste. Depending on how you make it, it can be very carbonated or hardly carbonated at all. We like lemon and grape flavored kombucha-flavored with lemon or grape juice. Our next flavor to try making will be raspberry lemon-YUMMY!! But my advice is to try some store bought to see how it taste and what you like. It is not cheap and that why many people (like us) make their own. (I’ll post later on step by step of how to make it.)
Have I piqued your interest yet? I hope so, but I’m not done yet. One of the main reasons I like kombucha is the health benefits. As I stated earlier, it has probiotics-something we don’t get enough of. It gives you energy. Instead of the fruit flavored, high sugar sports drinks on the market, try drinking kombucha after a sports event. I did that just this weekend. Our family does karate and we were testing Saturday. I knew I’d be spent afterwards, so I packed a cold kombucha in an insulated bag with an ice pack-wow was it good! And I felt great after drinking it! Last, I love that it aids my liver in ridding toxins. Before that karate test, I wanted to quit drinking so much coffee. I only have a cup each morning, but wanted to cut out the caffeine. After 2 days of struggling, I drank some kombucha and am pretty sure it helped me over the hump. I felt great the next day-no dragging or with-drawls. My mom even gave some cranberry kombucha to my dad who had been dealing with a kidney stone for over a month. Within 2 days of drinking it, he passed the stone. I’m thinking the kombucha had to have helped!
As a side note, if you are new to drinking kombucha and because it does have a detoxing effect, it’s advised to start slow. If you are healthy and eat healthy then you may not notice any detoxing, but if you are struggling with your health begin by only drinking a few ounces at a time to let your body easily rid itself of toxins. You can slowly build up over time until your drinking a full glass or several glasses a day. I personally don’t know of anyone detoxing too quickly from it, but yes, this stuff is that potent!
I hope I have introduced you to a new health drink that your whole family can enjoy or at least answered some questions that may have held you back from trying kombucha. I’ve got 2 gallons “brewing” now and can’t wait until they finish so we can try some new flavors and I can let you know how it’s going. I’ll also be sharing how you can make your own kombucha since it is much more cost effective than buying it. (Just a hint, if you think you want to make your own, start saving the glass bottles from the store bought kind.) Let me know what your favorite flavor it-I’m always looking for new combinations to try!
Go grab some Kombucha and