Saturday, December 8, 2012

What is kombucha?

Strange name.... kombucha. What exactly is it? Quite simply kombucha is fermented sweet tea.  Here's a little primer on what this magical drink is:
No one really knows. Search the internet and choose the story you wish to believe. All we know for sure is that it or something like it has been around for centuries if not thousands of years. Most likely origin is China area. Many countries have the same drink called different names.
What is it?
Kombucha is a lightly carbonated drink that tastes similiar to sour apple juice or beer. It is usually non alcoholic although this is up to brewing methods. It is also a strong probiotic drink with both beneficial yeasts and bacteria. There are many assumed health benefits. It  an be consumed plain or flavored a number of ways.
The Ph of good kombucha is low... like vinegar around 3. This gives it both the sour taste and the preservative properties. Health benefits are also tied to the low Ph.
Health benefits:
Common thought is that the main benefits come from 2 things... the natural acids and probiotics. The actual content can change due to culture and brewing methods, so there is no definitive content analysis across the board. As long as it is never heated (pasteurized)  kombucha is a strong probiotic.
There are reports arose the centuries of societies who included this drink in their daily diet who showed resistance to :
Digestive issues
Immune disorders
Neurological disorders
Kombucha reportedly aids in:
Proper digestion
Mood balancing
Immune support
Productive sleep
Thought clarity
Energy levels
There are reports that after world war two, cancer rates rose dramatically due to war time environmental contamination, except for a few small  communities in Europe. Even in the midst of equal  contamination these communities had very low rates of cancer. One of the unique factors in them was the community wide  daily consumption of kombucha!
I can attest that for our own family, adding kombucha as a daily drink has helped us overcome some serious health issues and raised our immune system effectiveness.
Kombucha also is reported to have positive effects on dental health... reducing the bad bacteria in the mouth that cause plaque and tarter. This is apparently a lasting effect, providing a new barrier of protection throughout the day.  That is assuming no sweetener in the kombucha!  The strong sharp sour taste also serves to freshen and clean the mouth.
What to do with it?
Kombucha is a great substitute for soda. You can drink it plain or add a variety of flavors. One easy way to flavor is to add organic juice in small amounts. Lots of flavors work well... experiment!
Another easy way to flavor is to drop a slice of fresh ginger or turmeric root in and add a little sweetener. Let it rest a few days and you have a wonderful natural Ginger ale.
Kombucha is acidic but common thought is that it actually raises the body Ph by binding to calcium and other minerals. The end effect is a raised Ph of body. This is generally thought to be good.of course you don't want to overdo it!
Kombucha is not a good substitute for water... it doesn't hydrate the body well... instead it detoxifies. Be sure to maintain a healthy intake of pure water. This is especially true for first time drinkers. Kombucha will detox your body well but to eliminate the toxicity your body needs plenty of pure water.
You do want to start in moderation. The strong probiotic effect of kombucha can cause what is called "die off",, which is a good thing but can be uncomfortable. Die off occurs when the good bacteria and yeasts in kombucha kill off the bad bacteria in the digestive system in large numbers. When the bad ones die off they give off high amounts of whatever toxic chemicals they give off while living. This causes a sharp but short term increase of bad symptoms. Basically however the bad bacteria were affecting you becomes obvious with drastically increasing sysmptoms or even flu like symptoms. This does quickly pass though, and you are left with a new fresh system to help heal.
Most people recommended starting with a few swallows and work your way up to a glass or two per day,while watching for symtpoms to increase or decrease. Use common sense as to how quickly you wish to detox. Once your body is free the one to two glass a day level is recommended.
A few warnings:
Be cautious of storebought kombucha! Check the sugar content. We have seen many commercial brews with as much added sugar as sodas! Sweeteners are added to attract people who are accustomed to a sweet soda taste. Unfortunately this high sugar content pretty much counteracts any health benefit!  So watch the labels... there are some brands with as little as 2 grams of sugar per serving.
Little Sprouts is proud to offer our own recipe of kombucha. Ours is bottled virtually sugar free, fully fermented. It is a bold tea taste with very light carbonation. Our unique recipe for the tea and sweetener gives a bold flavor and dark color. It contains black and green organic tea, organic cane sugar and organic sucanant.
If you'd like to try brewing your own, we also sell active scobies for the adventerous. Its easy to do... making a batcch in one to two weeks.
We encourage you to try our plain and flavored kombucha... experiment with flavors... and add this historic and healthy drink to your daily routine.

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