"Do you like Kombucha?" I ask. "Kombu what?" they say. More often than not, when I ask somebody if they like Kombucha, they respond with a puzzled look on their face and then proceed to ask me what it is.
The simplest description of what Kombucha is is that it is fermented tea.
"Oh, so it's alcoholic?" they then might say.
How could a whole generation of Americans be raised into thinking that "fermented" means "alcoholic" or "rotten or moldy" when for millennia, fermentation has been indistinguishably linked to human survival? How has this ancient wisdom come to be so misunderstood and maligned in today's age?
In the 1990's, Kombucha regained popularity in the United States, as enthusiasts began sharing their Scobies, (we'll get to that later) and testimonies of the drinks purported health benefits with others so they too could brew the tea themselves at home.
So what is it?
Kombucha is a fermented tea. It's made by introducing a Scoby (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) into brewed black, green, or white tea and sugar. The mix is left to ferment for a week to a month causing all sorts of deliciously healthy bacteria to form. The result is a bubbly drink that can vary from sweet to vinegary, depending on how long it's left to ferment.
What a SCOBY looks like, although they can vary in appearance.
Bacteria as your ally, not your enemy
Bacterias cover every surface on the planet, from the most extreme environments, including volcanos and Antarctica to radioactive waste. The human body comprises 10 trillion human cells and 90 trillion bacterial cells. We're covered in bacteria! The bacteria in your body collectively weigh about 4 pounds!
Being covered in bacteria might sound a bit creepy, but when you begin to consider that most bacteria aren't our enemies, but our allies, you start to see it differently. It then begins to make sense that consuming foods containing beneficial bacteria can help support the bacteria in and on our bodies.
Fermented foods are rich sources of probiotics, AKA, those beneficial bacteria. When done right, food fermentation helps with nutrient absorption, vitamin synthesis, breaking down proteins, alkalizing pH, restoring homeostasis, boosting immunity, and producing immunoglobulins. By trusting their guts, early humans learned that creating a pro-bacteria environment not only led to improved immunity and mood but also provided a means of survival.
Many people decide to try Kombucha for the first time because they've heard it can alleviate a variety of ailments. Then when they begin to drink it, indeed, they often experience positive results in a short amount of time.
Kombucha doesn't cure specific ailments; it allows the body to return to balance so that the immune and other physiological systems can function more efficiently.
Health benefits of Kombucha
Promotes healthy bacteria in the gut
Supports healthy liver function
Rebalances homeostasis in the body
Rebuilds connective tissue
Improves digestion and bowel function
Relieves headache and migraine
Reduces blood pressure
Reduces the occurrence and size of kidney stones
Aids healthy cell regeneration
Destroys free radicals, which are known to cause cell damage
Speeds healing of ulcers
Lowers glucose levels and prevents energy spikes
Helps clear up candidiasis AKA Yeast Infection
Some people might refer to Kombucha as a "panacea," this however isn't accurate. Kombucha is just a healthy food that doesn't actually cure or prevent disease. Unlike prescriptions or over the counter medicine, kombucha doesn't merely alleviate the symptoms of diseases or ailments; what it does is enables the body to work on the root cause itself.
The more we understand the impacts diet and stress have on our body, the more obvious it becomes as to why kombucha is of such great benefit for many of our modern diseases and illnesses. When the body is experiencing imbalance, whether it be a digestive or systemic imbalance, it generates stress signals that indicate impending failure. The signals the body lets off are the symptoms of diseases. Consuming Kombucha regularly can most likely help.
If you're wanting to get into kombucha brewing, I highly recommend purchasing
"The Big Book of Kombucha", written by Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory (pictured below). It is the literal Kombucha bible! They cover everything from getting started, scobys, cooking with kombucha, and everything in between. In this blog post, I barely scratched the kombucha surface. You could spend years studying its amazing benefits and endless possibilities!
If kombucha brewing is something you've been interested in trying or if you've been spending an arm and a leg on buying it at the grocery store, or maybe its an entirely new concept to you. I hope this post inspires you to take the plunge in brewing your own. I understand that hearing words like fermenting, bacteria, brewing, and scoby can seem somewhat daunting and scary. But I promise you, brewing your own kombucha is easier than it may seem!
In the next blog post, I'll explain step by step how we brew our own kombucha, and you'll begin to see how simple the process actually is.