Kombucha tea is known as the ‘tea of immortality’ and has been hailed as a miracle cure-all for over 2000 years. It is a living health drink that is made by fermenting a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) in sweetened tea to release all sorts of life-giving compounds such as vitamin C, vitamin D, amino acids, enzymes and probiotics. Advocates of Kombucha tea claim that it helps with a wide range of conditions including arthritis, gout, hemorrhoids, constipation, diabetes, cancer and HIV. Commonly known as ‘mushroom tea’ due to the pancake-shaped culture that sits atop the tea during the fermentation process, Kombucha has become the number one health drink of celebrities and health enthusiasts around the globe.
How to Make Kombucha Tea
The most important ingredient of Kombucha tea is the SCOBY that will ferment the drink and bring out the healing properties. One SCOBY can last for years and can be used repeatedly to make high-quality tea. SCOBYs can be purchased online from health websites such as Cultures for Health, or you can grow your own using store-bought Kombucha, tea and sugar. Dissolve one cup of sugar in a gallon of water and add 8 teabags or 2 tablespoons of loose tea. You can use black tea, green tea or any other kind you prefer. Add a bottle of Kombucha, and let the mixture sit in a glass container covered with a cheesecloth for around 20 days. You will see the SCOBY slowly start to take shape and cover the top of the mixture.
Once your SCOBY is ready, you can use it to brew your own Kombucha tea using the same recipe of 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of sugar and the tea of your choice. Brew the tea as usual, then add the SCOBY and leave for 7-14 days. A new SCOBY will grow over your original one which you can then give to friends and family to allow them to brew their own Kombucha. Occasionally, Kombucha tea can become acidic during the fermentation process, so it advisable to test the PH level before consuming it. The recommended PH level for Kombucha tea is between 2.5 and 4.6.
Kombucha Tea Health Benefits
Those who regularly drink Kombucha claim it improves energy levels, boosts immunity, improves concentration and prevents common colds and flus. It has been found to have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties making it a wonderful alternative to flu shots and other toxic preventative medicines. Many people drink the tea for its powerful detoxing effects on the body as it contains organic acids that cleanse the liver and digestive system such as glucuronic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, malic acid and oxalic acid.
Clinical Trials Performed on Kombucha Tea
A study performed at the Department of Life Sciences & Biotechnology, Jadavpur University, attempted to measure the effects of Kombucha tea in attenuating oxidative stress mediated tissue damage in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Researchers found that Kombucha tea showed “significant antidiabetic potential of the fermented beverage (150 mg lyophilized extract/kg body weight for 14 days) as it effectively restored ALX-induced pathophysiological changes.”
Researchers at the College of Engineering, China Agricultural University examined the hepaprotective (liver protecting) effects of Kombucha on laboratory mice. The trial found that a particular strain of Kombucha bacteria (Gluconacetobacter sp. A4) offered protection against acetaminophen-induced liver injury in mice.
An examination of the evidence of the healing benefits of Kombucha tea by the Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University of Latvia found that “Kombucha tea can efficiently act in health prophylaxis and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, antioxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of depressed immunity. The recent experimental studies on the consumption of KT suggest that it is suitable for prevention against broad-spectrum metabolic and infective disorders. This makes Kombucha Tea attractive as a fermented functional beverage for health prophylaxis.”
Possible Side Effects and Interactions
When brewed incorrectly, Kombucha tea can be highly acidic and can be extremely dangerous. In April 1995 two women who had been drinking Kombucha tea from the same SCOBY for 2 months were rushed to hospital with severe acidosis. One woman eventually went into fatal cardiac arrest and the other lady also experienced cardiac arrest but managed to recover. In 2009, a 22-year-old man was hospitalized with breathing difficulties, fever and confusion due to high lactic acid levels within his body after drinking Kombucha tea. While no direct link was ever made between these cases and consuming Kombucha tea, it is still worth exercising caution whenever brewing the tea at home. Always check the SCOBY for signs of mold before drinking the tea, and immediately discard both the SCOBY and the tea if you see any black spores appear. Measure the acidity of the tea before drinking, and bear in mind that the fermentation process of Kombucha will give it an alcohol level of around 1% – 1.5%. It is also important to use the correct container to ferment the tea such as glass, as brewing it in ceramic pots could potentially cause lead poisoning due to old ceramic glazes leaching the toxic metal.
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