Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been consumed for thousands of years. Not only does it have the same health benefits as tea — it’s also rich in beneficial probiotics. Kombucha also contains antioxidants, can kill harmful bacteria and may help fight several diseases.
Here are the top 7 health benefits of kombucha:
Kombucha is thought to originate in China or Japan. It’s made by adding specific strains of bacteria, yeast and sugar to black, green or herbal tea, then allowing it to ferment for a week or more.
During this process, bacteria and yeast form a mushroom-like film on the surface of the liquid. This is why kombucha is also known as “mushroom tea.” This blob is a living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or a SCOBY, and can be used to ferment new kombucha.
The fermentation process produces acetic acid (also found in vinegar) and several other acidic compounds, trace levels of alcohol and gases that make it carbonated.
A large quantity of bacteria also grows in the mixture. Although there is still no evidence for the probiotic benefits of kombucha, it contains several species of lactic-acid bacteria which may have probiotic function.
Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria. These bacteria can improve many aspects of health, including digestion and inflammation.
For this reason, adding beverages like kombucha to your diet might improve your health in many ways.
2. Kombucha May Provide the Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. This is because green tea contains many bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which function as powerful antioxidants in the body.
Kombucha made from green tea contains many of the same plant compounds and presumably boasts some of the same benefits.
Studies show that drinking green tea regularly can increase the number of calories you burn, improve cholesterol levels, help with blood sugar control and more.
Studies also show that green tea drinkers have a reduced risk of prostate, breast and colon cancers.
3. Kombucha Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals, reactive molecules that can damage your cells. 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.
Rat studies consistently find that drinking kombucha regularly reduces liver toxicity caused by toxic chemicals, in some cases by at least 70%.
While no human studies exist on this topic, it does seem like a promising area of research for people with liver disease.
4. Kombucha May Kill Bacteria
One of the main substances produced during the fermentation of kombucha is acetic acid, which is also abundant in vinegar. Like the polyphenols in tea, acetic acid is able to kill many potentially harmful microorganisms.
Kombucha made from black or green tea appears to have strong antibacterial properties, particularly against infection-causing bacteria.
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.
The health relevance of these antimicrobial properties is unclear.
5. Kombucha May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. Rat studies show that kombucha can greatly improve two markers of heart disease, “bad” LDL and “good” HDL cholesterol, in as few as 30 days.
Even more importantly, 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.
6. Kombucha May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes affects over 300 million people worldwide. It is characterised by high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
A study in diabetic rats found that kombucha slowed down the digestion of carbs, which reduced blood sugar levels. It also improved liver and kidney function. 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.
7. Kombucha May Help Protect Against Cancer
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death. It is characterised by cell mutation and uncontrolled cell growth.
In test-tube studies, kombucha helped prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells due to its high concentration of tea polyphenols and antioxidants. How the anti-cancer properties of tea polyphenols work is not well understood.
However, it’s thought that the polyphenols block gene mutation and growth of cancer cells while also promoting cancer cell death. For this reason, it is not surprising that tea drinkers are much less likely to develop various types of cancer.
Joe Leech – Healthline 29.08.18
How to Make Kombucha Tea at Home
Makes about 1 gallon
What You Need
3 1/2 quarts water
1 cup white sugar
8 teabags (or 2 tablespoons loose tea) – black, green, white, rooibos or herbal
2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought (unpasteurized, neutral-flavoured) kombucha
1 scoby per fermentation jar
Optional flavouring extras for bottling: 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit, 2 to 3 cups fruit juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons flavoured tea (like hibiscus or Earl Grey), 1/4 cup honey, 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spices
1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars
Bottles: Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, 6 swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles
Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavour of your kombucha and weaken the scoby over time.
1. Make the Tea Base: 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. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the pot in an ice bath.
2. Add the Starter Tea: Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)
3. Transfer to Jars and Add the Scoby: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar (or divide between two 2-quart jars, in which case you’ll need 2 scobys) 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.
4. Ferment for 7 to 10 Days: 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.
It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways. 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. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.
After seven 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.
5. Remove the Scoby: 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.
6. Bottle the Finished Kombucha: Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavouring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. (Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavourings for a day or two in another jar covered with cheesecloth, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without “stuff” in it.)
7. Carbonate and Refrigerate the Finished Kombucha: 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.
8. Make a Fresh Batch of Kombucha: 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.
• Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer.
• Putting Kombucha on Pause: If you’ll be away for 3 weeks or less, just make a fresh batch and leave it on your counter. It will likely be too vinegary to drink by the time you get back, but the scoby will be fine. For longer breaks, store the scoby in a fresh batch of the tea base with starter tea in the fridge. Change out the tea for a fresh batch every 4 to 6 weeks.
• Other Tea Options: Black tea tends to be the easiest and most reliable for the scoby to ferment into kombucha, but once your scoby is going strong, you can try branching out into other kinds. Green tea, white tea, oolong tea, or an even mix of these make especially good kombucha. Herbal teas are ok, but be sure to use at least a few bags of black tea in the mix to make sure the scoby is getting all the nutrients it needs. Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavoured teas.
• Avoid Prolonged Contact with Metal: Using metal utensils is generally fine, but avoid fermenting or bottling the kombucha in anything that brings them into contact with metal. Metals, especially reactive metals like aluminium, can give the kombucha a metallic flavour and weaken the scoby over time.
• It is normal for the scoby to float on the top, bottom, or sideways in the jar. It is also normal for brown strings to form below the scoby or to collect on the bottom. If your scoby develops a hole, bumps, dried patches, darker brown patches, or clear jelly-like patches, it is still fine to use. Usually these are all indicative of changes in the environment of your kitchen and not a problem with the scoby itself.
• Kombucha will start off with a neutral aroma and then smell progressively more vinegary as brewing progresses. If it starts to smell cheesy, rotten, or otherwise unpleasant, this is a sign that something has gone wrong. If you see no signs of mould on the scoby, discard the liquid and begin again with fresh tea. If you do see signs of mould, discard both the scoby and the liquid and begin again with new ingredients.
• A scoby will last a very long time, but it’s not indestructible. If the scoby becomes black, that is a sign that it has passed its lifespan. If it develops green or black mould, it is has become infected. In both of these cases, throw away the scoby and begin again.
• To prolong the life and maintain the health of your scoby, stick to the ratio of sugar, tea, starter tea, and water outlined in the recipe. You should also peel off the bottom (oldest) layer every few batches. This can be discarded, composted, used to start a new batch of kombucha, or given to a friend to start their own.
• If you’re ever in doubt about whether there is a problem with your scoby, just continue brewing batches but discard the kombucha they make. If there’s a problem, it will get worse over time and become very apparent. If it’s just a natural aspect of the scoby, then it will stay consistent from batch to batch and the kombucha is fine for drinking.