Before I was introduced to kombucha tea, I will admit, I had a bit of a soda addiction. But it wasn’t the caffeine or the sugar, it was the carbonation, the bubbles. For some reason, plain water just does not quench my thirst. Something like seltzer water, or flavored carbonated water does. However, neither of those come with any additional health benefits (besides water intake/hydration).
As I started researching sourdough cultures, many of the websites I visited also talked about kombucha. It wasn’t until I saw a bottle of it on sale at my local Walgreens that I even realized it was a drink (vs food). All of a sudden, I was seeing it everywhere. Now, most likely it was probably there the whole time, but now it was in my view and conscious mind. It wasn’t until I picked up my nephew one day after school and stopped to get a snack and he chose a bottle of kombucha that I was brave enough to try. And I fell in love!
Kombucha (sometimes referred to as tea mushroom or tea fungus) is a fermented, fizzy, sweet-and-sour drink made from sweetened black (or green) tea. It is commonly consumed for health benefits, as it contains probiotics.
Ingredients for basic kombucha are yeast, sugar and black tea. Once combined it is set aside for a week or more to ferment using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). The living bacteria are said to be probiotic. It has been consumed for around 2,000 years. First brewed in China, it eventually spread to Japan and Russia. It rose in popularity in Europe in the early 20th century. It has recently been more popular in the US due to the reputation as a health drink.
As I started to drink kombucha tea, my gut and digestive system started to feel better. I was not feeling so bloated after certain meals. Plus, in my pursuit of healthy foods and drinks it seemed perfect. And I was starting to drink kombucha every day which became as expensive, if not more, as drinking Starbucks coffee every day.
So, I went back to those websites and realized you could brew kombucha yourself. Similar to growing a sourdough culture (which I had success with), I decided to give it a try. I went the route of growing my own SCOBY, but you can easily purchase one as well. I followed these kombucha SCOBY instructions and these kombucha tea instructions.
The greatest part of making your own kombucha is not only the savings but deciding your own flavors. I have been obsessed with flavors and trying new ones. I purchased a book: The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea to help as I was feeling overwhelmed with the options. If you are looking for something simple, use fresh fruit to flavor. My favorite fruits for flavoring are strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
Kombucha tea is not for everyone. It does contain caffeine and it does have sugar, yeast and a bit of alcohol (part of the fermentation process). Also, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The nice thing is kombucha tea can be made into smoothies as well for a slightly different flavor and such.
But no matter what, even if it isn’t for you, finding something that is a healthy drink alternative to coffee, soda or other drinks, is a good choice for anyone.