(WellnessNova.com) - By now most people are aware of the health benefits of probiotics and maintaining a healthy gut. It seems like every few advertisements on TV are lauding the advantages of eating probiotic yoghurt or taking supplements in order to improve digestion and lose weight.
And it’s all true. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria and yeasts that not only benefit the digestive system in healthy people, but also can also help heal a host of digestive diseases and conditions. Increasing the amount of probiotics in one’s diet every day can treat everything from IBS to obesity. There are many different types or strains of probiotics and they all have different healing effects.
Not only that, but a healthy diet rich in probiotics can heal people suffering from various skin ailments such as eczema and psoriasis. Gut health has a huge connection to the immune system and a probiotic-rich diet can help the body fight off incoming bacteria.
But getting a more probiotic-rich diet doesn’t have to mean eating a ton of yoghurt or spending a fortune on supplements. And the search for probiotic-rich sources often leads people to try new drinks, such as kefir and the ever-popular kombucha.
But what is kombucha and why does it cost so much to buy it in the health food store?
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from tea that is slightly tangy and is usually a little effervescent. It contains a very low amount of alcohol and naturally occurring vitamins such as B and C. It also contains several different probiotic yeasts and bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, although the strains differ depending on the SCOBY and fermentation.
While the exact origin of kombucha isn’t known, it can be traced back to China as far as 221 B.C., and it is believed to have spread to Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe from there.
Surprisingly, kombucha is very easy to make and super versatile, meaning that the recipe can be adjusted in a number of ways to suit almost every taste. Many people claim to notice the health benefits of drinking kombucha even after a few days. By making it at home there will be more than enough to share and pass on to others.
Here are some simple steps on how to make kombucha tea, for beginners!
Admittedly, the world of kombucha is a little daunting at first, not because of the method by which one makes it, but because of the strange, mushroom-like SCOBY that is needed to make it.
SCOBY is the acronym used to describe the “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast” that kind of looks like a slimy, greyish yellow lily pad. It’s also known as the “Mother,” as it is a host of living organisms that will eventually multiply, giving birth to another SCOBY that can then be passed on to a friend.
Apart from acquiring a SCOBY from a friend, kombucha “Mothers” can also be purchased online, and there are numerous Facebook groups where they can be found, usually for free.
Sterilized equipment is key to kombucha preparation as it’s important to keep out all bad bacteria while brewing up the good!
A large glass container, like a gallon-sized pickle jar, works best for housing the kombucha. These can sometimes be found at second-hand stores or restaurants.
Now you’re ready to start making your own kombucha:
1. Start off by washing the jar thoroughly with boiling water and a mild soap, ensuring that all the soap is rinsed out.
2. Next, a large batch of tea should be brewed in the jar. It doesn’t really matter what kind, and it doesn’t have to be caffeinated. It can be plain, black English breakfast tea or a fruit-infused tisane, but the resulting taste will be different depending on what kind of tea is used. This is where a bit of experimentation and practice comes in. Each person has their own preferred tea to make their brew with and it can always be changed up in the next batch.
3. After the tea is steeped, remove the teabags and add sugar while the tea is still warm. Sugar is essential as it is what the SCOBY eats in order to allow fermentation to occur, but the amount of sugar can be controlled somewhat. One cup of sugar for a large gallon jar works well. Because the sugar is “eaten” during fermentation, the end result is very low in sugar and not too sweet.
4. When the tea is fully cooled, the kombucha SCOBY can be added to the brew. When it is first added, it will likely sink to the bottom, but eventually it will make its way back to the top of the jar and will grow to fit the diameter of the jar.
5. Cover the jar with a clean tea towel or cheesecloth and fasten with a rubber band.
6. Store the jar in room temperature and where it can ferment for 7 to 10 days or a few weeks. The fermentation period can be adjusted according to taste. The longer the fermentation, the stronger the taste, the higher the probiotic content, and the more effervescent the tea will be.
7. Don’t worry if there are long strands of yeast material coming from the SCOBY, but be aware of any strange-looking mold or bad smells. If this occurs, the batch likely tainted. The process will then have to be repeated with a new SCOBY.
8. When the tea is done fermenting to the preferred level, the “Mother” SCOBY will have likely produced a “Baby” SCOBY below it. The two can be separated from one another, and they can be stored in a bit of tea in a lidded container inside the refrigerator.
9. The tea should have a mild vinegary smell and a slightly tangy taste similar to orange soda or apple cider. Again, the taste will vary depending on what kind of tea is used.
10. The tea can now be bottled and refrigerated but be aware that fermentation will continue somewhat in the bottle, so leave space or open the bottle occasionally to let out some pressure.
11. To get an extra fizzy soda-like kombucha, throw in another tiny pinch of sugar into each bottle (preferably, sterilized green beer bottles with pop-off lids) and store them on their side at room temperature – again being wary of the pressure in the bottle).
And that’s it! Kombucha can be enjoyed on its own, or mixed with juice. There have even been a few kombucha cocktails popping up here and there, so experiment, search the internet for recipes, and get brewing!