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Kombucha {tutorial} {hippie juice}

What is kombucha?
My husband calls it hippie juice,

I call it tea,

but it’s real name is Kombucha.

Kombucha is the name for a sweetened tea that has been fermented using a colony of natural yeasts and friendly bacteria. This ‘colony’ is also commonly called a Kombucha mushroom or SCOBY {Symbiotic Colony Of Yeasts and Bacteria}, although it actually looks like a large rubber pancake. The finished product is a slightly fizzy, sweet drink with just a hint of fermented taste. Great when consumed chilled.

Although somewhat new here in the U.S. and modern western world, it has been popular in Russia for some time and dates as far back as 250 bc in China. Throughout the centuries, Kombucha has been used for it’s medicinal purposes.

When Kombucha is correctly fermented, it consists of acetic acid, carbonic acid, vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, B15, various beneficial enzymes and essential amino acids, folic acid, glucuronic acid and lactic acid, as well as usnic acid-a natural product of fermentation, suppressing development of micro-organisms not belonging to the Kombucha culture. B vitamins, including folic acid are pivotal in a healthy reproductive system, while glucuronic acid (which is also made by your liver) binds itself to the toxins in your body, to which they can then be expelled.

Health Benefits of Kombucha

As a probiotic (think yogurt) Kombucha has many uses in keeping our digestive system healthy and balancing out the natural bacteria in our intestines. It has also been reported to cleanse the colon and gall bladder, aid in digestion, aid in weight loss, increase fertility, helps balance hormones, relieves headaches and migraines, eliminate hot flashes, and clear acne and other skin irritations. Throughout the centuries in the eastern world it has also been known as the ‘cancer cure’, healing many types of diseases.

That being said, to this date, I haven’t seen one actual bias study done of Kombucha, which means all the health benefits are only being found by the people who drink it. My thinking is also this; that if it didn’t improve the health of people who drank it, would it have lasted this long in society? The makeup of the finished product includes enough different enzymes and vitamins to where even I would consider it a healthy drink. And while it’s healing properties may not specifically target one disease, the detoxifying effect on the body would seem to allow the body a better chance to heal itself when fed with the proper diet.

How to Make Kombucha

what you’ll need;
4 qt stainless steel pot
4 quart glass bowl or jar (metal or plastic bowls can make the tea toxic)
white cotton cloth to go over the jar
1 cup whole cane sugar
4-5 tea bags – at least 3 must be black tea to keep the right acidity

  • Find someone with a kombucha starter and 6 oz. of already fermented tea. (if you don’t know of anyone who has this, you can also buy it online from somewhere like Cultures for Health)
  • Wash and sterilize everything. Your hands, the pot, and the bowl. Also make sure the counter is clear of any food or houseplants. We want to grow good bacteria, not the bad stuff. Remove all rings from your fingers, as metal is not to touch the mushroom.
  • Boil water and then add 1 cup sugar, stir until dissolved. (And don’t worry about the high sugar content, the kombucha feeds off of it so the finished product has a much lower sugar content)
  • Turn off stove and steep tea bags for 10 minutes in the sugar water.
  • Cool tea completely and pour into glass jar or bowl.
  • Add 6 oz of finished kombucha tea as a starter. The first time, use the tea that comes with your ‘mushroom’.
  • Place mushroom on top of the tea with the rougher darker side down. (if it falls to the bottom, it’s because the liquid was still to warm. As long as it wasn’t hot, it’ll be fine and float back up)
  • Cover with a thin white cotton cloth and rubberband.

  • Place in a dim, ventilated space for 7-10 days. Needs to be about 70-90 degrees. Try after only 7 days the first time to see how you like the flavor. The extra 3 days for me make it a bit to ferment-y (like vinegar-y).
  • After the fermentation period, remove mushrooms and gently pull them apart. Congratulations, you now have a kombucha mother and a baby starter! The starter can be used in a separate bowl to brew 2 batches at once, you can give it away, or feed it to your garden. (while brewing new tea, make sure the ‘mushrooms’ are covered with tea and not alone on a plate like shown below)

  • Pour the fresh kombucha through another clean white cotton cloth into a glass container to store in the fridge, reserving 6 oz. for your next batch.
  • For health benefits, consume a few ounces at a time, 2-3 times a day.


Personal Experience
I got my own starter over the summer from our local raw milk farmer, and made a few batches before I became pregnant. I thought the taste was rather tolerable, slightly sweet and fizzy. I can see how one would come to really like this drink after acquiring a taste for it. My husband on the other hand wouldn’t even try it because the ‘mushroom’ looked gross. I did stop drinking it shortly after becoming pregnant, but mostly because my taste buds started to change and I no longer liked to drink it. As well as the fact that my husband was rather hesitant that I drink it during pregnancy. Next spring I’ll be finding a new starter and making it again.

Other great links to check out
Frequently asked questions about making Kombucha
Kombucha Cultures

**While Kombucha has been shown to have great health benefits, some people may actually have an allergic reaction to it, so try just a small amount the first day to make sure your body can handle it. Also, although most people find that kombucha is safe in moderation during pregnancy, you also need to remember that because of the fermentation process it does carry a small amount of alcohol, like 0.5%, as well as the caffeine from the tea. Plus it has a small detoxing effect. But if you drank it before you became pregnant you’re fine, I just wouldn’t start after pregnancy.


Anyone else already try kombucha? What do you think of it?

Kombucha {tutorial} {hippie juice}
 
Author:
Recipe type: Fermented, Cultured, and Living Foods
Ingredients
  • 4 qt stainless steel pot
  • 4 quart glass bowl or jar (metal or plastic bowls can make the tea toxic)
  • white cotton cloth to go over the jar
  • 1 cup whole cane sugar
  • 4-5 tea bags – at least 3 must be black tea to keep the right acidity
Instructions
  1. Find someone with a kombucha starter and 6 oz. of already fermented tea. (if you don’t know of anyone who has this, you can also buy it online from somewhere like Cultures for Health)
  2. Wash and sterilize everything. Your hands, the pot, and the bowl. Also make sure the counter is clear of any food or houseplants. We want to grow good bacteria, not the bad stuff. Remove all rings from your fingers, as metal is not to touch the mushroom.
  3. Boil water and then add 1 cup sugar, stir until dissolved. (And don’t worry about the high sugar content, the kombucha feeds off of it so the finished product has a much lower sugar content)
  4. Turn off stove and steep tea bags for 10 minutes in the sugar water.
  5. Cool tea completely and pour into glass jar or bowl.
  6. Add 6 oz of finished kombucha tea as a starter. The first time, use the tea that comes with your ‘mushroom’.
  7. Place mushroom on top of the tea with the rougher darker side down. (if it falls to the bottom, it’s because the liquid was still to warm. As long as it wasn’t hot, it’ll be fine and float back up)
  8. Cover with a thin white cotton cloth and rubberband.
  9. Place in a dim, ventilated space for 7-10 days. Needs to be about 70-90 degrees. Try after only 7 days the first time to see how you like the flavor. The extra 3 days for me make it a bit to ferment-y (like vinegar-y).
  10. After the fermentation period, remove mushrooms and gently pull them apart. Congratulations, you now have a kombucha mother and a baby starter! The starter can be used in a separate bowl to brew 2 batches at once, you can give it away, or feed it to your garden.
  11. Pour the fresh kombucha through another clean white cotton cloth into a glass container to store in the fridge, reserving 6 oz. for your next batch.
  12. For health benefits, consume a few ounces at a time, 2-3 times a day.

kombucha1

 

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
Donielle is an author, amateur herbalist, lover of real food, and an advocate for natural health. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health, so much so that she is currently taking courses to become a master herbalist. Her personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and she began this blog in order to share all of the information she found helpful in her journey to healing.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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Comments

  1. I am sitting here sipping on my Kombucha. One thing that I do different is flavor it!! It makes it so much better (I think it does and my hubby too). I put a variety of “flavors” in….blueberries, fresh ginger, elderberries, any fruit. I put grape juice concentrate in it also, helps to flavor it quickly. This last batch I did, I added some elderberry jelly that did not set up…tastes great! My hubby is one that is also “unsure” of things like this, but he really likes this and reminds me to give him some in his lunch if I forget. I also use milk kefir in a smoothie…yummy!!!
    Alicia

  2. I forgot to give you this link…she talks about flavoring it…

    http://www.expertvillage.com/video-series/1403_kombucha-tea.htm

  3. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home says:

    I make Kombucha, and though I really disliked it at first, I have grown to really enjoy it. I find it so nice and refreshing, now.

    I’m not sure whether it’s helping my fertility or not, but I love that it helps with detoxing, and I also find it really benefits my digestion which can sometimes be a bit off.

    I think you just have to give it a try and get past how strange it seems at first! :) The health benefits are definitely worth it!

  4. Gina @ The Christian Mom's Outlet says:

    I really like the stuff… we have been using a variety of teas for flavoring and it goes really well with a berry juice tonic I’m taking for my icky varicose veins. I drank it small amounts (4oz a day) while pregnant and nursing, because I like the mild detox. Great site:) Looking forward to more!

  5. Alicia – Thanks for the link on flavoring it, I’ll have to give that a try when I get back to making it next spring.

    Stephanie – I agree, you just have to try it.After a couple batches I was starting to get used to the taste a bit more. (not that it tastes bad for those of you who haven’t had it!)

  6. Alison @ Wholesome Goodness says:

    I was so scared to try kombucha (in what world does “fermented tea” sound good?), but my doctor wanted me to start drinking it. So I went to Whole Foods and picked up G.T.’s Kombucha. Wow! I loved it right away. Unfortunately, it’s a very expensive habit. I want to start making my own, but I think I’ll wait until I can afford a continuous brewing apparatus. I found a cool one here: http://www.getkombucha.com/porcelain.html

    Do you know anyone who has something like this? I’m curious to talk to someone who has one before taking the financial plunge.

  7. I LOVE Kombucha! Just haven’t figured out how to make it yet. Last time I tried, I was busy enough with the kids that I kept forgetting it until the fungus grew too big and then I knew that it would be bitter. *sigh*

    I’ve found that I have trouble making fermented stuff (not a great planner)- messed up a few batches of yogurt and the only reason I could do whey is that you CANT do it wrong! :-)

    I am thankful that I have Nourishing Traditions farmer nearby who sells these things!
    Great post – glad to know there are those out there who know what good food is!

    ~Andrea

    ps. My testimony about NT whole foods is that I was miserable for 3 pregnancies except the last one where I ate raw dairy, FR eggs, coconut oil, kombucha, etc, etc. Not a BIT of morning sickness with that one!

  8. Alison – that is a really cool kombucha dispenser! Looks convenient to use too. I just picked up my jar from our local superstore for about 5 bucks and used a piece of scrap fabric and rubber band for a ‘lid’. The woman I got my starter from used a one gallon mason jar. And yea, anything with fermented in the name, I have always turned my nose at. :-) Little did I know how good it was for me.

    Andrea, I think I left one of mine fermenting for over 3 weeks. oops! Luckily it didn’t hurt anything, but the baby mushroom sure got huge! I eventually had to write down when to harvest it. But then again, I’m not a mom of 4! I have more room in the ol noggin for odd info. :-)

  9. Anonymous says:

    So, I know this is a really old thread, but I just want you all to know that the "continuous brewing" kombucha device in that link, is a VERY common product sold at water stores (it's just a lead-free porcelain water crock) they usually retail for around 29.99. (the stand is extra, though!) save yourself some time and money!! i have one for my water and i love it! they're great for kombucha though!

  10. Great article! We’ve got some scobies and liters of home-brewed, unfiltered, undiluted, unpasteurized, uncensored, pungent, effervescent, lip smacking raw kombucha. MOMBUCHA.com. HOORAY!

  11. Oh, and we’ll bike everything over to ya… including the refills.

  12. Hmmmm…
    Cheeseslave says use only organic tea, and your site says the opposite. Ah, the real food world and its rules! ;)

    Now – where is your raw milk farmer? We’re looking at homes in Byron Center, so I need southernly resources!

    :) katie

  13. I just love kombucha! I use a gallon jar and a coffee filter with an elastic band. Also, write the day you do it on the filter so you can remember when to try it. I like two gallons a week, Saturday and Wednesday/Thursday works for me.

    I believe the organic or not idea is because organic may allow some bacteria that you don’t want to grow? At least that is how I understand it. I use Red Rose(definitely NOT organic) tea myself, and have since starting to drink it many years ago. When in a pinch, I use Lipton’s teabags-havent even ventured into green teas or other things.

    Amy

  14. Kumbucha is so easy to make. I’ve had it from a health food store before and liked it a lot. I am letting my first batch rest in the fridge right now so I can drink it soon!

  15. concerned says:

    Hi, Kombucha is slightly alcoholic, so I would wonder if it should really be part of a pregnant woman’s regimen…

    • donielle says:

      @concerned, Depending on how long the tea is allowed to ferment, yes, it can contain a small amount of alcohol. I think each woman has to decide for herself if she should drink it during pregnancy. Personally I chose not to, due to the detoxing effects (I got pregnant right after I made my first few batches. This also isn’t a drink you should be guzzling like water! Medicinal amounts call for just a few ounces a few times per day, about 6-10 ounces per day. For me the amount of alcohol isn’t a huge concern, though if I were pregnant I don’t think it would be an everyday drink. And I tend to think the sugar and junk foods we over consume may actually be more dangerous.

      But as women, we also have a great intuition! If you feel uncomfortable with drinking it – don’t! :-)

  16. So depressing…I was thinking, reading through this and other websites about kombucha, this isn’t something you can just guzzle.
    And then you say just that in a comment!
    I need something to guzzle. I’m tired of plain water and putting a little juice in my water just doesn’t do it.

    • @Hélène, Try water kefir and kefir soda (both are on my recipes page under beverages).

      You can drink a big glass of kombucha….when you get used to it!

  17. Roes anyone know if you can drink this while nursing? Can I give this to my kids (9,6,2,6mos)?

    • @Soccy, During nursing, it’s iffy depending on who you ask. I personally wouldn’t start to drink it with a newborn or small baby, but would feel comfortable drinking it with a young toddler, in just small amounts per day. Little ones really don’t need it and we do need to be careful not to ‘detox’ their little bodies, but I do let my kids have sips of mine when they are little and now at 2 and 4, they get a watered down, small glass of their own every once in awhile. Some parents give their kids more, but that’s what I’m comfortable with. :-)

  18. Personally do you think it would be safe to start drinking kombucha 2-3 months before TTC? Also, I have 10 mercury fillings (no mercury poisoning symptoms) would that effect your choice? I’ve read so many conflicting things!

    • @Analyn, A few months before TTC- yes, that should be just fine. Pertaining to how it affects mercury fillings – I have no idea. I heard that mentioned only once before in passing.

  19. We love our Kombucha. We double ferment it with grape juice and store it in smaller containers (the original Kombucha jars from the store) and we find those two things make the drink much fizzier and much tastier.

    We make two double batches each week and buzz through it quickly.

    I found that it helped nearly rid me of seasonal allergies the year that I drank it consistently before allergies hit. LOVED that benefit.

    I also have drank Kombucha through my pregnancies without any problems.

    Nothing but good things to say about it~

    I really enjoyed your outline of what Kombucha is and what it can do for you. You worded it all so well.

    ~Cinnamon

    • @Cinnamon, thank you for your post! We are currently trying to conceive and I was crossing my fingers I could continue to enjoy kombucha! Woohoo!! My first batch just finished and I can’t wait to start the next one!

  20. Great blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using?
    Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up
    as quickly as yours lol

Trackbacks

  1. […] revitalized my kombucha and kefir, and prepared the ingredients for making sourdough muffins and fruit and nut bars […]

  2. […] time, I’m going to try it with some green tea to get a different flavor.  I followed the tutorial from my friend Donielle at Naturally Knockedup.  Happy […]

  3. […] know that 80% of your immune system is in your digestive system? So make sure to get yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods in each […]

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