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kombucha

Kombucha brewing

Kombucha is experiencing a revitalization as a healthy tonic beverage. While only recently gaining the popular spotlight, kombucha is believed to have first developed in China over 2000 years ago.  From there it spread throughout Asia, and within the last century, to the West.

Some have said that kombucha can help with many types of illnesses, from insomnia, to poor digestion, and even reduce of gray hairs.  So does it do all that?  Let’s start with a little background.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a delicious fermented tea beverage. Its taste is both sweet and sour. Known as hóngchájùn (red tea fungus) in Chinese, the English word has been traced to Japanese etymology. The term “red tea fungus” can be misleading, as “red tea” is simply the Chinese equivalent for “black tea.”

In the process of brewing kombucha, tea is fermented with healthy bacteria and yeast.  As a fermented food, Kombucha has many of the health benefits of fermented foods containing a plethora of lactic acid bacteria.   Bacteria can play a very important role in the healthy functions of the digestive system, immune system, and even reproduction.

The fermentation process also raises the level of some B vitamins. According to Kombucha Kamp, a website with extensive information about kombucha, “Vitamins available in living form from whole foods are the easiest for the body to assimilate. By drinking small doses of Kombucha over a long period of time, you are delivering these water soluble vitamins in a bio-available form such that can be immediately utilized by the body. These microdoses over a long period of time have a far more beneficial effect than any megadose pill or synthetic supplement can provide.”

So the kombucha delivers both pro-biotic lactic acid bacteria and vitamins that can help with overall health and well being. I don’t think it is a panacea for all conditions (unfortunately not a cure for gray hair or baldness).  But in my personal experience, kombucha helps with digestion and immune functioning in general.   And best of all it tastes good.

How to Make Kombucha

While many opt to purchase already-made kombucha in stores, brewing at home can be delicious and much more cost effective. It’s very easy to do; all you need to do is make a batch of strong black tea with sugar, and then add your SCOBY (symbiotic combination of bacteria and yeast). With proper storage in a dark, dry place, you will have your own batch of kombucha ready in 7-10 days.

Here’s a great step by step recipe on how to get started brewing kombucha at home.

Amanda Mester significantly contributed to this article.