Kombucha, a health drink that is fast gaining popularity, was first invented over 2000 years ago in Northeast China, historically referred to as Manchuria. The sales of kombucha are at an all-time high and it is fast becoming a dominant commodity in the domestic beverage market. Its name is thought to be derived from a physician named Kombu, a Korean doctor who brought the fermented tea to Japan as a curative.
What Is Kombucha?
This fermented drink is prepared using bacteria and yeast mixed with black or green tea and sugar. Kombucha provides numerous health benefits, such as better digestion and enhanced immune function. It is loaded with probiotics, B vitamins, enzymes, and organic acids that help improve overall health. The antimicrobial properties of the fermentation process make its production technique sanitary and safe for homebrewing.1
Why Does Kombucha Need SCOBY?
The sugar-laced tea in combination with SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is converted into kombucha. It is made from live bacteria and yeast-fueled fermentation process making it very different from other drinks. This is why kombucha emits a slight vinegary smell.
The bacteria and yeast together turn into a jelly-like layer of cellulose at the surface of the drink and protects the fermenting tea from the air. It also helps maintain a conducive environment that keeps away any unwanted bacteria.
The bacterial constituents of kombucha consist of various species, which ferments alcohols produced by the yeasts into acetic and other acids, while increasing the acidity and limiting its ethanol levels.
Does Kombucha Contain Alcohol?
As a by-product of the fermentation process, kombucha contains very little alcohol, which is generally around 1 percent. As long as you don’t overdo it by drinking many glasses of kombucha, the minimal alcoholic content will not cause any harm. However, people who are sensitive to alcohol or those who avoid alcohol must be aware of its alcohol levels.
Things To Know Before Consuming Kombucha
1. Avoid The Alcoholic Variants Of Kombucha
During the process of fermentation, alcohol is invariably produced as a by-product. So, all kombucha variants will contain small quantities of alcohol. But, certain variants of kombucha are deliberately made to ferment to a point where its alcohol level might be the same as in a light beer, which can make you mildly high. Hence, it is important to scrutinize the label before consuming it and select the ones that have low-alcohol levels, which brings out the best of its health benefits.
2. Avoid Drinking It In Excess
Though small quantities of kombucha have many health benefits, consuming it in excess can lead to heartburn and other digestive problems. Generally, experts recommend drinking about four ounces of commercially-prepared kombucha, which is considered as safe and effective.
3. Avoid It If You’re Pregnant
Pregnant women and people with a weak immune system must avoid drinking kombucha. As this drink is prepared using bacteria, there is always the risk of contamination that may cause you to become sick. Certain variants of kombucha, especially home-brewed versions, maybe unpasteurized and result in toxic reactions that can be dangerous to the fetus.
You can brew delicious kombucha tea at home, especially if you have a DIY kombucha kit. Try this simple kombucha recipe that makes about 1 gallon.
Things You Need
- Quart-size glass jar
- A stirring utensil like a ladle or a big spoon
- Tight-weave cloth or paper coffee filter
- A rubber band or canning jar rings to secure the jar cover
- 13-14 cups of “unfluoridated,” unchlorinated water
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 8 tea bags or 2 tablespoons of loose tea
- 2 cups starter tea or distilled white vinegar
- Active kombucha SCOBY
- In a glass jar containing hot water, add the sugar and stir it until the sugar dissolves completely. The water should be hot enough to steep the tea.
- Add the loose tea or tea bags into the jar and allow it to steep (you can use a metal tea ball to contain loose tea but ensure that the tea ball is removed before adding the SCOBY and starter tea and that the tea ball does not come into contact with the SCOBY).
- Cool the mixture to 68-85ºF. Leave the tea in the liquid as it cools or remove after 10-15 minutes. The longer you allow the tea to steep in the liquid, the stronger the tea will be.
- Remove the tea bags or strain the loose tea leaves from the liquid.
- Add the starter tea (from a previous batch) or add distilled white vinegar to the liquid.
- Add the active kombucha SCOBY.
- Secure the jar with a tight-weave cloth or coffee filter and tie it with a rubber band or canning jar rings.
- Leave the mixture undisturbed at 68-85°F and keep it away from direct sunlight for 7-30 days, depending on your taste preference. The longer the kombucha is left to ferment, the less sweet and more vinegary it will taste.
- Pour the kombucha off the surface of the jar for consuming and retain the SCOBY and sufficient liquid from the bottom of the jar to use as starter tea for the next batch.
- Bottle the finished kombucha and flavor it or drink it plain.
|↑1||Jayabalan, Rasu, Radomir V. Malbaša, Eva S. Lončar, Jasmina S. Vitas, and Muthuswamy Sathishkumar. “A review on kombucha tea—microbiology, composition, fermentation, beneficial effects, toxicity, and tea fungus.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 13, no. 4 (2014): 538-550.|