Kombucha (also tea mushroom, tea fungus, or Manchurian mushroom when referring to the culture; Latin name Medusomyces gisevii) is a fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea drink commonly consumed for its purported health benefits. Sometimes the beverage is called kombucha tea to distinguish it from the culture of bacteria and yeast. Juice, spices, fruit, or other flavorings are often added to enhance the taste of the beverage.
Kombucha is thought to originate in China or Japan. Kombucha is now homebrewed globally, and also bottled and sold commercially by various companies.
Top Health Benefits Of Kombucha Tea
Many scientists believe that antioxidants from foods and beverages are better for your health than antioxidant supplements. Kombucha, especially when made with green tea, appears to have antioxidant effects in your liver.
While no human studies exist on this topic, it does seem like a promising area of research for people with liver disease.
The beverage encourages a lively mood and helps people feel more energetic as they spend more time outdoors. Kombucha also regulates brain chemistry, which makes people happier overall.
Control Cholesterol / Weight Loss
Kombucha contains an enzyme called Fermenterase, which is responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates. When the body cannot break down carbohydrates as it should, the energy produced is not properly used and stored as fat. Fermenterase helps regulate the digestion of carbohydrates and prevents the storage of excess sugars. As a result, Kombucha helps people who want to lose weight to slow down the fat gain and increase the metabolic rate.
Good For The Heart
Tea (especially green tea) protects LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is thought to contribute to heart disease. In fact, green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of developing heart disease, a benefit that may also apply to Kombucha.
Kombucha made from green tea is likely to be even more beneficial, as green tea itself has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels. In fact, a review study of almost 300,000 individuals found that green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic
Boost Immune System
Kombucha improves the body’s ability to fight off infections. When the body is weakened due to a lack of immunity, it is more susceptible to receiving infections. Once the body is weakened, it becomes more vulnerable to other diseases as well. Kombucha boosts the body’s immune system and prevents infections from coming back. As the immune system is strengthened through Kombucha consumption, the chances of getting sick and experiencing health problems are reduced.
Kombucha made from black or green tea appears to have strong antibacterial properties, particularly against infection-causing bacteria and Candida yeasts.
These antimicrobial effects suppress the growth of undesirable bacteria and yeasts, but they do not affect the beneficial, probiotic bacteria and yeasts involved in kombucha fermentation.
Kombucha helped prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells due to its high concentration of tea polyphenols and antioxidants. For this reason, it is not surprising that tea drinkers are much less likely to develop various types of cancer.
Where to Find Kombucha Brewing Supplies
You can use regular, store-bought tea and sugar for brewing kombucha.
How To Make Kombucha Tea
Makes about 1 gallon
- 8 bags black tea, green tea, or a mix
- 1 cup regular granulated sugar
- 3 1/2 quarts water
- 2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha
- 1 scoby per fermentation jar
- Stock pot
- Small funnel
- 1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars
- Bottles: Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles
- Tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), covvee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar
- Step 1– Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Depending on the size of your pot, this will take a few hours. Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea.
- Step 2– Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.
- Step 3– Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically. After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.
- Step 4– It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways during fermentation. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. These are all normal signs of healthy fermentation.
- Step 5– When the kombucha tastes good to you, it’s ready to be bottled. Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.
- Step 6– Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch.
- Step 7– Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles using the small funnel, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. Leave about a half-inch of headroom in each bottle.
- Step 8– Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavorings for a day or two in another jar covered with cheesecloth, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without “stuff” in it.
- Step 9– Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it’s helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.
- Step 10– Clean the jar being used for kombucha fermentation. Combine the starter tea from your last batch of kombucha with the fresh batch of sugary tea, and pour it into the fermentation jar. Slide the scoby on top, cover, and ferment for 7 to 10 days.
The Bottom Line
Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been consumed for thousands of years.
Many people believe that kombucha helps treat all sorts of chronic health problems. However, human studies on the effects of kombucha are few and the evidence for its health effects limited.
If you decide to try homemade kombucha, make sure it’s properly prepared. Contaminated kombucha may cause more harm than good. A safer option is to buy bottled kombucha at the store.