Since I moved back to the Netherlands, I’ve been brewing my own kombucha with a SCOBY that I had brought over all the way from Bangkok. Kombucha has been dubbed the magical elixir of life by some (and hocus pocus tea by others.. haha!) If everything I’ve just written sounds like mumbo jumbo to you, definitely read on!
Every so often I post some progress pictures of my home brewed kombucha on my Insta stories, and I get questions about this mysterious beverage every time. Is it booze? Is it juice? Is it lemonade? Not quite. Kombucha is in fact a fermented tea, meaning it has a ton of probiotic properties just like sauerkraut or kimchi. The drink is thought to have originated in China over 2000 years ago!
It is made by brewing black tea, adding a load of sugar, and adding a SCOBY, which is an acronym that stands for ‘Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast’. Then you leave it alone (and whisper sweet nothings to it every time you pass by), and after a week, the sugar will have been converted into gluconic acid (found naturally in fruit, honey and wine), and acetic acid (also known as vinegar). So yes, the drink tastes sour, but the fermentation time and the optional ‘second ferment’ (explained below) affects the complexity and sweetness of the flavours.
So much to learn!
Besides the acidic components, the drink also contains a bunch of enzymes, B vitamins, amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), and bacteria that are beneficial for your digestive system. And while there haven’t been any clinical trials to back up the health claims, many longtime kombucha drinkers will tell you that their digestion has improved, their skin has cleared up and their immune system feels boosted, among many other benefits.
Kombucha is loaded with probiotic organisms, and a 2008 cell study actually showed that the fermented tea provides antimicrobial activity that controls the growth of E. coli and staph bacteria. The bottom line is that when we eat foods that are hard to digest, kombucha –when consumed during/before/after the meal– can help to break the food down and allow nutrients to become bioavailable. More nutrients, in general, means a healthier immune system, more energy and better skin.
We are beginning to understand the importance of having a healthy gut flora more and more. The most important discovery –in my opinion– is the relationship between our gut flora and immune system. I mean, did you know that for every human cell, we have 10 bacterial cells in/on our bodies?? And the greater the growth of beneficial bacteria, the healthier our bodies will be on the inside and out.
Commercially bottled kombucha has actually been around since the 90s, and come in super funky flavours:
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In the spirit of freedom, liberate yourself with this deliciously fresh Spicy Watermelon Kombucha-Rita. This healthy GT's Kombucha Kocktail calls for crushed watermelon, fresh lime, bold jalapeno, tequila, and GT’s Liberty Kombucha. Sip overlooking fresh cut grass and sunshine. – Spicy Watermelon Kombucha-Rita 🍉 Ingredients: 2 oz Tequila (we like @Casamigos!) 3 oz GT’s Liberty Kombucha 1 Cup Fresh Watermelon ½ Jalapeno Pepper 1 Lime Slice 1 Tsp Himalayan Sea Salt For Rim (Optional) • Instructions: 1) Combine watermelon & tequila in blender. Blend and strain through fine mesh strainer. 2) Rim cocktail glass with juice of lime slice and Himalayan sea salt (Optional) 3) Muddle freshly sliced jalapeno in glass, add ice. 4) Pour watermelon & tequila over ice and add GT’s Liberty Kombucha. Stir. 5) Garnish with lime wheel. 6) Cheers to #Summer! #FreeToBe #LibertyForAll #GTsKombuchaKocktails
Less sugar than a soft drink or fruit juice
If the ‘load of sugar’ part scared you off, no worries. Most of the sugar will have been converted by the yeast and bacteria into components that are good for you. The sugar levels generally depend on the fermentation time and whether or not you do a second fermentation. This is where you bottle the finished kombucha and add a little fruit juice, flavoured tea, fresh fruit or herbs to give it extra flavour and of course some fizz! (And maybe some accidental alcohol, but definitely nothing to get you buzzed haha). I don’t think I’ll ever crave a Coke Light (super guilty pleasure) with my Thai food again!
Make your own kombucha
Do you want to brew your own kombucha? There are a ton of resources online, but if you want me to tell you how I do it, let me know in the comments!