KOMBU-WHAAA? First off, what is kombucha and why am I hearing this word so often? Kombu… that's some kind of sea-weed and cha…means tea in Japanese, right? Well technically yes, however kombucha is in no way a sea-weed-tea, but rather a sparkling-fermented-tea. Sweetened most commonly with sugar, and steeped in black tea. Easy enough, but fermented, you may ask. Yes! Fermented typically for 7-14 days. This is what gives kombucha its unique sour taste and often there is a light carbonation. However, not to forget all of the health claims it holds.
Kombucha is fermented with a combined culture of special bacteria and yeasts that are actually useful for our wellbeing. Have you ever heard that humans are only 10% actually human, and the rest of the 90% of our cells are comprised of different bacteria? If not, then know that it’s true! Good. Now that we know we have lots of bacteria in-on-and-around us, why would it be helpful to drink a sweet-n-sour fermented tea drink? The answer is simpler then one may think. Consuming those good and living bacteria – also known as probiotics – help keep up the bacterial diversity inside ourselves which, in turn, keeps us healthy by crowding out the bad bacteria’s that want to get in and make us sick, or tired, even allergic.
So we know what ANTI-biotics do. But where do those PRO-(i.e.)-living-biotics come from? From the kombucha-Mother of course. Everyone has a mother – and so do symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY) like our beloved kombucha! This mothers appetite is the sugar in the tea solution, and ‘she’ digests them to burp out carbon dioxide, lacto-bacillus and all sorts of other happy-for-our body vitamins… B1, B2, niacin and riboflavin to name a few.
Some parts of the world refer to this drink ‘living-tea’ or ‘tea-of-life’ – not only from the living-physical disk that floats on top of the fermenting tea, but the life that remains in the tea as you drink it. No, don't worry – you wont grow one of these strange disks in your stomach, although the prospect seems somewhat intriguing. With these probiotics helping you out, it’s possible to notice better digestion! Hurrah! Also, eating or drinking living foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt or kombucha which contain many antioxidants, our bodies start a detox – meaning toxins are being pushed out of our body – Ahh where?! Not to fret. The first exit is simply through our skin, and this can be one of the reasons one might get rosy cheeks after drinking lots of red wine. With good digestion and detoxification comes also a clearer mind, and furthermore energy!
Kombucha is often brewed with a black tea, types like Darjeeling, or Assam, but further experiments can be done with green tea, red bush tea, and an assortment of other teas to make variations of flavor and colour. Avoid teas with oils such as earl grey burgamot as the oils will sit on your SCOBY and suffocate it, and kombucha is an AEROBIC ferment, which means it needs to breath. Also avoid synthetic teas that might be called 'strawberry-shortcake' or blueberry-cupcake', as there is a high chance that there are ingredients that might hurt out SCOBY.
One can find dozens of brands of commercial kombucha on the shelves, especially in north American markets. However not all of these kombucha brands are as ‘healthy’ or ‘living’ as it may seem. Being a consumer, we can become aware of sugar content, expiration date, if pasteurization occurred to kill all the life in the bottle etc – and thus become more conscious of how alive a well produced, local kombucha looks like.
Start your own batch of kombucha once you've adopted your first kombucha SCOBY and get brewing to your mixes according to you taste and needs! Watch the videos and check out the recipes for help, instruction and inspiration!