Kombucha - "The Tea of Immortality"
Contents of This Blog:
When I First Met Kombucha
What is Kombucha?
The 20 (and many many more) Tremendous Health Benefits of This Nectar
What the Nutrients in Kombucha Do for Your Body
Recipe and Where You Can Buy It Pre-made
You can flavour your kombucha when it's done brewing
How much to drink a day
The History of Kombucha
Final Words and a Little Warning
1. First Time
”I had a customer today, who asked for Kombucha tea, do you know what that is?” My friend Christian, who owns a teashop, asked me one day last autumn. “It’s something to do with a mushroom, which is yeasting in tea, and supposedly very healthy.” He continued
“Oh – that’s kefir culture.” I replied self-assured, but noticed that I didn’t get through his scepticism.
“No.” he said. “Kefir ferments in dairy products. Kombucha is an other type of culture.”
“What’s it good for?” I, who thought I knew all about healthy nutrition’s, asked.
“It’s fermentation – supposed to be good for your gut.” He responded
We didn't get much wiser on the subject there, but I started wondering how yeast and sugar in the same cocktail could be healthy for you.
Kombucha tea came to me again in a hotel in India, where I resided last winter during a five-week high intensive yoga teacher-trainings course. I threw my self at the drink when I noticed it on the menu. Thought that it might keep my belly happy. It tasted ok – cider-ich, so I ended op drinking a pint of it every day and noticed these reactions in my body:
- I delivered a first class poo every day – no deli-belly and no constipation (there you have it)
- My energy level increased – every day I had several hours of yoga and theory lessons and I was fresh as a daisy all day (normally I get exhausted quite easily or lazy)
- I slept as a teenager all night every night (not used to that)
- My mood was good and stabile (some dare say that one might have tendency towards drama)
- Clear urine all day also mornings (detoxed - happy kidneys)
- I became more supple
- I lost some fat
- Out of thin air my libido awoke (which, for the last few years of menopausing, have been heading in the same direction as my oestrogen level)
- A genuine great sense of well-being
There were of course other contributory factors involved here. Sunshine, sea bathing and daily yoga classes and meditations are also a good cocktail for the system, but after being home in Denmark for just a week, where I continued the same trainings and meditations regimes as in India, but didn’t have my Kombucha everything I was quickly back to pre India conditions, hence the reason I started a thorough research on the subject.
2. What Is Kombucha?
The Kombucha culture is a structure of cellulose built up of various microorganisms, fungi and bacteria living in symbiosis with each other. The culture is often called a ‘scoby’, which stands for 'symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts’.
The Kombucha tea is a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with the Kombucha culture. The culture turns a bowl full of sweet tea into a bowl full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and health-giving organic acids.
3. The Stuff In Kombucha That Makes It So Healthy
The Kombucha culture is a biochemical powerhouse in your kitchen, as the culture digests the sugar it produces a range of organic acids, vitamins, enzymes and probiotic microorganism like:
- Glucuronic acid
- Gluconic acid
- Butyric acid
- Lactic acid
- Acetic acid
- Malic acid
- Usnic acid
- Amino acids
- Vitamins B1, B6 and B12
- Vitamin C
- Probiotic microorganisms
In short this nectar is a beverage with these 20 (and much, much more) tremendous health benefits.
- Powerful detoxifier
- Beautifies the skin
- Powerful anti-oxidant
- Reduces the burdens on the pancreas and keeps the liver healthy
- Has an alkalizing effect on the body
- Enhances metabolism
- Aids in dissolve of gallstones
- Protect the digestive system
- Improves colon and small intestine health
- Helps stave off yeast infection
- Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial
- Improves blood pressure
- Betters immune function
- Reduces inflammation
- Increase absorption of important minerals
- Stabilise blood sugar levels and supports healthy insulin levels
- Lifts the libido
- Boosts energy levels
- Helps prevents cancer
- Acts as an adaptogen
Beautiful skin: When you decrease the toxic load, and the bad bacterial load, this alleviates pressure on the body to do other things. Connective tissue is able to repair and heal. Acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other chronic skin conditions can clear, and a beautiful subtle colouring in the face radiates from this inner healing. Furthermore the lactic acid, the B and C vitamins in the drink are powerful skin-rejuvenaters too.
The mood: Fermented foods do more than breed bacteria — they generate happiness, too. They balance bad bacteria in the gut and influence the release of serotonin — "The Happy Hormone" / a chemical that contribute to a person’s feelings and mood. Not only do the bacteria send these chemicals to the brain, they also boost a system of neurons in the gut that impact a person’s mood.
The good bacteria are less active when there are too many bad bacteria present.
Bad bacteria live from sugar and carbohydrates. When there are more bad bacteria than good bacteria, the imbalance can cause digestive problems, weight gain, stress, anxiety and depression. The good gut bacteria in kombucha help to offset that imbalance.
Lifting libido: The root cause of low libido is adrenal fatigue. In today’s fast-paced world adrenal fatigue is caused mainly by stress and our poor diet. The adrenals are the walnut-shaped glands above your kidneys that secrete vital hormones and directly influence your energy, metabolism, sleep AND sexual organs.
Three vital things in Kombucha that help lifting the libido:
- The B6 vitamins help calm the mind and body (much needed if you want to get in “the mood” for love) and it boosts serotonin too.
- Probiotics help boost your energy and vitality, thus your libido. Consuming fermented foods and drinks along with your meals helps with digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in that meal including protein, fats, vitamins and minerals...all so important for your sexy adrenals.
- Alcohol: It's said that alcohol in small doses can be an aphrodisiac. One reason for that, from a female perspective, is that alcohol can help dilates the blood vessels. Increased blood flow in the vaginal walls, cause fluid to pass through them and lubricate the area. Kombucha contains about 1% alcohol and although it’s not much it might be enough to have an effect.
Adaptogen: Another feature of Kombucha is that, biochemically speaking, it is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are substances that are both able to stimulate and inhibit the same bodily functions, depending on the actual need - adaptogens thus increasing the resilience to stress both mental and physical, as well as to infection.
The active ingredient causes the body to generally become better at manage energy: energy level increased during daylight hours, while nighttime sleep becomes deeper and calmer. Kombucha adaptogen effects are mainly seen through its effects on the liver, blood and digestive system, where it normalizes the acidity / pH.
4. What the Nutrients In Kombucha Do For You
The Probiotic microorganisms: The greatest reason Kombucha supports digestion is because of its high levels of beneficial acid, probiotics and enzymes. An article published in the journal Food Microbiology established that the following probiotics make up this health elixir:
- Gluconacetobacter (>85 percent in most samples)
- Acetobacter (<2 percent)
- Lactobacillus (up to 30 percent in some samples)
- Zygosaccharomyces (>95 percent)
Ultimately, this cocktail of good bacteria interact together in a unique way to produce some unbelievable health benefits for those who drink it.
Some research has shown Kombucha’s ability to prevent and heal leaky gut and stomach ulcers, candida yeast from overpopulating within the gut because it helps restore balance to the digestive system.
Also, we know the probiotics found in Kombucha support the immune system.
Glucuronic acid is a powerful detoxifier. It binds the toxins entering the liver and eliminates them out of the body via the kidneys. This helps in reducing the burden on the pancreas and keeps the liver healthy. Furthermore, Kombucha prevents the harmful effects of the pollution caused by the petroleum products along with plastics, pesticides, resins and heavy metals.
Gluconic Acid has an alkalizing effect on the body and It’s a product of the breakdown of glucose. Gluconic interacts with butyric acid to improve GI tract health and is rumoured to slow the progress of viral infections, dissolve gallstones, protect the digestive system, and help stave off yeast infections (such as “thrush,” caused by many different species of Candida yeasts). Gluconic acid is a noncorrosive, non-volatile, nontoxic, mild organic acid and it imparts a refreshing sour taste.
Butyric acid is a short-chain fatty acid that acts as a detoxifier and improves colon health. It’s been shown to support healthy insulin levels, is an anti-inflammatory, and may be helpful for individuals suffering from IBS, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A recent study found that butyrate could prevent and treat diet-induced insulin resistance in mice.
Lactic acid bacteria are essential for the digestive system. Assist blood circulation, helps prevent bowel decay and constipation. Aids in balancing acids and alkaline in the body and believed to help in the prevention of cancer by helping to regulate blood pH levels.
Benefits body: lower blood pressure, improves immune function, prevents infections, and reduces inflammation. Benefits skin: lactic acid exfoliates cells on the surface of skiin. Lactic acid also has water-binding properties and, like glycolic acid (another AHA), may help lighten skin discolorations.
Acetic acid is the sour-tasting compound that gives that characteristic tang to vinegar, pickles, and sourdough bread. Theories are that acetic acid causes slower digestion or faster rates of transfer of sugar from your bloodstream to your muscles, some studies show that it can increase the body's absorption of important minerals from the foods we eat, control blood sugar levels, can help kill pathogens, including bacteria and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The acetic acid, in Kombucha, blocks carbohydrates from entering the blood and turning into blood sugar, reducing spikes. And these benefits can carry over to the next meal
Malic acid, a natural substance found in fruits and vegetables, is commonly associated with apples. Malic acid helps boost energy levels. It is an essential component in the Krebs cycle, a process that turns carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy and water in your body. If there isn't an adequate supply of malic acid in the body, the Krebs cycle can't function properly, leading to fatigue. Eating foods or taking supplements containing malic acid might help your cells carry out the Krebs cycle normally and therefore support energy production. Malic acid is beneficial for conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It can help with oral hygiene as well.
Usnic acid is a potent antibiotic effective against bacteria and some pathogenic fungi. It also exhibits antiviral, antiprotozoal, antimitotic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity. Other characteristics, like ultraviolet absorption, preserving properties, antigrowth, antiherbivore and anti-insect properties, have also been demonstrated. Usnic acid and its salt form, sodium usniate, have been marketed in the US as an ingredient in food supplements for use in weight reduction. Note that a daily oral intake of 300–1350 mg over a period of weeks is damaging to the liver.
D-saccharic acid-1, 4-lactone (DSL) is clinically proven to decrease oxidative stress and related immuno-suppression; this powerful antioxidant is produced during the Kombucha fermentation process and not found in black tea alone, this gives the kombucha its ability to modulate the immune system and to control free radicals through antioxidant measures.
Vitamins in Kombucha:
Several studies have shown that fermentation makes essential vitamins and minerals easier for your body to absorb, or more bio-available, and four soluble vitamins have been determined to have the following concentrations in Kombucha.
- Vitamin B1 0.74 mg mL-1
- Vitamin B6 0.52 mg mL-1
- Vitamin B12 0.84 mg mL-1
- Vitamin C 1.51 mg mL-1
For comparison milk contains:
- Vitamin B1 0.45 mg mL-1
- Vitamin B12 2.7 mg mL-1
- Vitamin C at about 1.8 mg mL-1
Vitamin C is a superstar antioxidant, essential to support healthy connective tissue in the body. High levels of vitamin C have been detected inside immune cells, making vitamin C valuable to protect against stress and infections.
Scientists suspect that DSL and the vitamin C present in Kombucha are its main secrets in protecting against cell damage, inflammatory diseases, tumours and overall depression of the immune system.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) plays a crucial role in certain metabolic reactions, that every cell of the body uses for energy. It is rare to be deficient in thiamine, although alcoholics, people with Crohn disease, anorexia, and those undergoing kidney dialysis may be deficient
Vitamin B6 helps maintain healthy brain function, plays a key role in synthesizing antibodies that are needed to fight various diseases, helps in maintaining normal nerve function, plays a crucial role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, assists normal nerve cell communication, helps in forming red blood cells, and helps in breaking down and digesting proteins. So, the higher the protein intake, the greater is the requirement of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B12 is needed to convert carbohydrates into glucose in the body, thus leading to energy production and a decrease in fatigue and lethargy in the body. It helps in healthy regulation of the nervous system, reducing depression, stress, and brain shrinkage.
It helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Vitamin B12 also protects against heart disease by curbing and improving unhealthy cholesterol levels, protecting against stroke, and high blood pressure. It is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It helps in cell reproduction and constant renewal of the skin.
Fermentation: Fermented foods and drinks have been through a process of lacto fermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.
Natural fermentation of foods has also been shown to preserve nutrients in food and break the food down to a more digestible form. This, along with the bevy of probiotics created during the fermentation process, could explain the link between consumption of fermented foods and improved digestion.
Between 70% and 80% of our immune cells are in the gut. Fermented foods and drinks stimulate bacteria that help with immunity. Here's a guide to probiotics.
Alcohol? You might wonder if fermenting tea with yeasts would produce an alcoholic beverage. Well the yeasts do produce alcohol, but the bacteria in the culture turn the alcohol to organic acids. Only minute quantities of alcohol, typically 1% by volume, remains in the Kombucha brew.
5. How To Make Your Own Kombucha:
It is super easy to make your own Kombucha brew. Tea, sugar and water are the main ingredients you mix with the SCOBY and then it takes care of itself. Below is my favourite recipe.
How to Get a SCOBY? SCOBYs are living and thriving colonies of bacteria and unfortunately, you can’t just pick one up at your grocery store. There are several ways to acquire a SCOBY.
If you know anyone who already brews Kombucha, ask him or her for an extra SCOBY and they will probably be glad to pass one on. The SCOBY has a “baby” every batch or two and this baby can then be used to brew Kombucha.
Where to get it? You can order a SCOBY from an online source. Just make sure the source is reputable. I prefer a trusted site like Happy Kombucha.
Where to buy premade Kombucha: Wholefood has it and I'm an Original
RECIPE KOMBUCHA - 12 cups:
Scale up or down depending on the size of your vessel
- Pour suger into the saucepan.
- Pour 8 cups of boiling water over the sugar.
- Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add 4 cups of cold water.
- Add the tea.
- Steep for 15 minutes.
- Filter the tea.
- Pour the tea into the vessel.
- Cool down to 20-25 Celsius
- Add SCOBY and kombucha brew.
- Cover with cloth cover and secure with the rubber band.
- Set in a warm location out of direct sunlight (ideal temperature 20-25 Celsius).
- Fresh air is good too.
- Ferment for 8 to 14 days.
The fermenting process:
- The SCOBY usually float to the top within a few days. If not, it's also ok.
- During the fermentation will SCOBY, which is called the Mother, will produce a new culture that settles at the top of the vessel, that one is called the baby.
- Taste the brew after 10 days or sooner, depending on the temperature - some would say already after 8 days.
- It should taste a sour with sweetness - a bit like cider.
When you are ready to taste your brew, gently insert a straw beneath the SCOBY and take a sip. If too tart, then reduce your brewing cycle next time. If too sweet, allow to brew for a few more days. Continue to taste every day or so until you reach your optimum flavor preference.
After the fermentation:
- Remove the SCOBY WITH CLEAN HANDS,
- Put it in a bowl (porcelain or glass)
- Pour about 1,3 cup (10 %) of finished brew over it
- Pour the finished Kombucha drink through a strainer into bottles.
- Keep refrigerated.
Tip: If you want to carbonise your kombucha, place the bottles at room temperature for two to three days before you refrigerate.
if you want to make another brew:
- Save about 10% of finished beverage to a new process.
- Save your SCOBY
If you do not want make a new brew right away:
Keep the SCOBY in a mason jar with some fresh brew or apple cider vinegar and and sugar and store in refrigerator for later use. Some claim that you can store it for up to six weeks. I've stored mine for much longer with no problem. Kombucha has been around for thousands of years and the SCOBY has a very strong survivability.
- Can you give some of your fungus to others who want to brew.
Kombucha brewing is a very flexible system. You only need a small piece of SCOBY to succeed with your brew, and you can also use more SCOBY's in a brew at a time. Mostly I use both mother and baby in my brews, and sometimes I tear them over and share or increase my production volume. I have 2x3 lites in rotation most of the time. I usually ditch the mother after two or three brews and go on with the baby.
6. You can flavour your kombucha when it's done brewing
When your kombucha is done and bottled, you can enjoy it as it is, or you can add som flavors to it. Like spices, fruit, and veggies.
I prefer these combinations:
- 2 sticks of organic cinnamon and 1 tsp. not too spicy chili - or 1 fresh chili without the kernels
- 3 cm sliced and peeled fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp organic blueberries - fresh or frozen.
7. How much to drink a day
Drink as desired! Go slowly in the beginning. You can start off with 4-8oz on an empty stomach in the morning, if this feels a bit too hard on the stomach, then wait til after breakfast. Then have some with meals during the day to help with digestion or just listen to what your body tells you. I drink a glass in the morning and one at night.
Drink plenty of water too, as Kombucha is a natural detoxifyer and you want to flush out the newly released toxins.
It’s said that the stomachs that are rumbling most when they get fermented food, are those who need it the most. So if you have a good intestinal flora, you can hardly get too much - if you don’t, you need to slowly grow the gut accustomed to it.
The origins of Kombucha have become lost in the mists of time. It is thought to have originated in the Far East, probably China, and has been consumed there for at least two thousand years. The first recorded use of Kombucha comes from China in 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty. It was known as "The Tea of Immortality".
It has been used in Eastern Europe, Russia and Japan for several centuries. It's from Japan in 415 AD that the name Kombucha is said to have come. A Korean physician called Kombu or Kambu treated the Emperor Inyko with the tea and it took his name, "Kombu" and "cha" meaning tea. Russia has a long tradition of using a healing drink called "Tea Kvass" made from a "Japanese Mushroom".
From Russia it spread to Prussia, Poland, Germany and Denmark, but it seems to have died out during World War Two.
9. Final Words:
The Downside of Kombucha Consumption
There is emerging research on the benefits of Kombucha and it is something I consume daily, but there are also some cautions and downsides to be aware of.
Those with any diagnosed medical condition should absolutely check with a doctor before consuming this or any other type of supplement. And as kombucha contains sugar, caffeine and a tiny bit of alcohol pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid the drink.
Fermented foods are a no-go if you suffer from histamine intolerance.
Some people experience pain and bloating - most likely from changes in gut bacteria and there is some evidence that if Kombucha is not made correctly, it can be dangerous.
The most logical concern I’ve seen with Kombucha is its potential to cause dental problems. Since it is high in natural acids (but still lower than most sodas) it can be harmful to the teeth..
In short, if you drink Kombucha, drink it all in one sitting, don’t sip it throughout the day and swish with clean water (don’t brush) right after. I personally still think the benefits outweighthe potential dental harm (and I’ve seen my own cavities reverse even while consuming Kombucha) but it is something to be aware of and take steps to mitigate.
DO NOT drink the tea if it is unsafe, throw it out, and start over with a 'back-up' or new fresh culture! The hazards involved in drinking contaminated tea are not worth the few cents worth of tea and sugar. Again Kombucha tea has a long and safe track record as long as basic hygiene and care are used in brewing and maintaining your cultures. Kombucha contains self-preserving anti-bacterial properties, which makes the chance of contamination very low.
All information in this blog is strictly for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. The statements made in this blog have not been evaluated by The Danish Health Authority. The products linked to in this blog and any information published in this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided by this blog is not a substitute for a faceto-face consultation with your physician, and should not be construed as medical advice. The entire contents of this blog are based upon the opinions of Hanne Robinson. By reading and using this blog, you agree to only use this publication for personal informational use and not as a substitute for medical or other professional advice.