Friday, November 2, 2012

What is kombucha?

Strange name... strange taste.... what is this stuff? It is liquid gold!  Well.. when properly done....

Kombucha is fermented sweet starts with all the health benefits of tea ... then dramatically increases those benefits through fermentation. It is no longer tea... no more than yogurt is milk, or wine is grape juice. Here's how it works:

Sweet tea is placed in a container and the culture added. The  culture is called a scoby. This stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.  It is a balanced world of yeast and bacteria living together and off each other. A simplified explanations is this: the yeast consumes the sugar in the tea producing alcohol as a byproduct. The bacteria then consumes the alcohol and oxygen creating acid as a byproduct. Both if these are present and working at all times so that.. as long as sugar and air are present... the result idle healthful acids in a tasty blend of flavors. The alcohol level never reaches a significant level because the bacteria consumes it as fast as it is produced by yeast.

Now.. if the oxygen supply is cut off.. you get alcohol. For this reason it is necessary to refridgerate sealed bottles. The act of sealing.. if any sugar is left in the tea, will produce alcohol at room temps.

The main benefit of drinking kombucha is in the acids ... meaning special vinegars. These vinegars have a long list of reported health benefits. And there is still the benefits of the tea itself, and a host of other compounds. Plus the yeast and bacteria, if alive, are powerful probiotics for our bodies. So powerful it is highly recommended to start consuming kombicha slowly... an ounce or two at a time in the morning only. Then slowly increase if no negative reaction occurs.

To gain these benefits... you must make sure of a few things....

1. There is no or very little sugar left... as we all know sugar itself is a powerful health negative wrecking havoc on the human body. Check the label.... sugar should be 0 or as close to it as possible.

2. Kombucha should be fermented long enough.. at least a week at room temps. Going faster at higher will produce alcohol since the bacteria can't keep up with the yeast. This happens above about 76 degrees. If it is left to ferment long enough the bacteria will consume all the alcohol eventually. How to tell? It should be strongly sour when consumed plain.

3. Organic... to ensure no negatives are inside.. water quality in the tea, sugar added, and tea itself is important. All should be clean of chemicals and organic.

Consuming kombucha is much like consuming wine... every batch, every recipe produces different flavors and aromas. just like no two wines or two years of wine are identical... no two batches of kombucha are identical. The producer can alter the flavor by adjusting the recipe (tea type and strength, water source, sugar type)  or adjusting the time to temp balance, or by adding flavorings after fermenting. Its quite a world of exploration.

We sell kombucha made in small batches of 3 gallons. Ours if fully fermented so that NO sugar is left (we test for sugar at the end)  and it is strongltly sour. We start with both green and black tea, and sweeten with both cane sugar and sucanant. The result is a robust sour healthy drink with a unique flavor that can be further flavored in many ways.

Many people drink kombucha plain but it can be flavored many ways. For ginger ale flavor just add ginger and sugar or honey and let it set for a while. For fruity add fruit juice, just an ounce of two per bottle of kombucha. You can also usr spices, herbs, or even essential oil flavorings. There is no limit to ideas and recipes. If its too sour, dilute with water.

If you prefer carbonated drinks... add a little sugar and cap it moderately tight, then let it sit at room temps for s couple days and fridge for a couple days.. the yeast will make co2 which will be absorbed in the cold making a naturally fizzy drink. Use Carr if you don't want alcohol... as alcohol is produced when fermenting without air!  Don't go too long or strong on this.

Our family uses kombucha as our "soft drinkñ now that we are past the negative probiotis effects (die off) . The health benefits if this drink are real. The probiotic effect way beyond and supplement pill. And the flavor is so versatile! We literally drink it like soda.

Can you overconsume kombucha? Sure... just like anything else. I remember a news story of someone dieing from drinking too much water in a radio station contest. Anything to excess is dangerous. We easily go through a glass of two a day with nothing hut good effects.

If you haven't tried kombucha... order some this week. If you have... give ours a try. I think you will find it unique. If you want to make your own... order a scoby from us and explore your own recipes.

Strange name... strange taste... with many health benefits and a world of exploration and fun. Try it!

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