Kombucha tea has a history that stretches back possibly thousands of years, and more recently has been enjoying something of a renaissance in many western coffee houses.
It is more popular today than ever, whether bought commercially or, increasingly, brewed at home, all the while being touted as something of an elixir. The health giving power of regular black and green tea is something that fascinates many modern minds.
From cancer preventative antioxidants to mind improving compounds, there are many great positives to drinking tea that can have a quite drastic effect on our lives in the long run: but the question remains as to whether the same is true of kombucha.
Does kombucha tea deserve its reputation – is it an ancient remedy or a modern fad? Let’s explore this together with my Kombucha 101.
- What is Kombucha?
- Quick facts about Kombucha
- Kombucha’s nutritional profile
- Health benefits of kombucha
- What are the downsides to drinking Kombucha?
- The difference between store-bought and home-brewed kombucha
- What is this SCOBY that everyone seems to be talking about?
- Hotel maintenance
- How to brew your own kombucha
- Do’s and don’ts when brewing your kombucha
- Basic kombucha ingredients:
- Kit you’ll need to brew kombucha at home:
- Kombucha brewing method:
- How to get maximum carbonation from your brew
- Types of sugar for use in kombucha brewing
- Continuous vs batch brewing: which is best?
- Can kombucha go bad?
- How much Kombucha should you drink?
- Kombucha recipes
- Kombucha 101…done!
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha tea – also known as the tea mushroom, tea fungus, or Manchurian mushroom – is a fermented, slightly alcoholic drink.
It is lightly effervescent and sweet, and is commonly drunk both for refreshment and for its supposed health benefits.
Kombucha is made by fermenting green or black tea using a SCOBY: symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast – commonly called a mother or a mushroom.
Although a SCOBY is often referred to as a “mushroom” or a “fungus”, these terms are misleading: the culture is actually a symbiotic growth of acetic acid bacteria and osmophilic yeast species.
The living bacteria are probiotic in nature, hence one of the main reasons for Kombucha’s rise in popularity.
Where is kombucha from?
Kombucha’s exact origins as a drink are unknown for certain. It is thought to have begun somewhere in the vicinity of north eastern China, with Manchuria being cited as its likely place of origin.
It has traditionally been consumed in China; however, it also has a history of popular usage in parts of Russia and eastern Europe.
Estimates range in timescales for its origin from as recently as two hundred years ago to as long as two thousand years ago. Consumption of Kombucha has been reported at least as early as 1900, and its consumption in the west has seen a rise since the early twentieth century.
These days, Kombucha is home brewed globally. Commercial sales have also increased in recent years, meaning that its reach is ever expanding.
Quick facts about Kombucha
Now we have a little bit of background, it’s time to scratch the surface a little bit. What is it about kombucha that so fascinates a growing sub-culture of tea drinkers? Read on for my quick facts about kombucha:
It’s the subject of many (arguably quite spurious) health claims
As with many modern would-be superfoods, numerous implausible claims have been attached to kombucha consumption. Claims persist for the treatment of HIV/AIDs, aging, arthritis, cancer, and diabetes, amongst many others.
I will go into these in more detail below. For now, however, I’ll just say that there is little to no evidence to support these claims: approach many of the wilder claims surrounding this drink with a degree of scepticism.
However, it may be help in the promotion of a healthy diet
If you’re looking for a quick pick me up, however, kombucha is a good alternative to fizzy drinks. Fizzy soda usually come heavily loaded with sugar and chemicals. Kombucha forgoes these, and also gives a (very) mild caffeine hit into the bargain.
It’s made with microbes…
In order to make kombucha, tea and sugar is fermented with the SCOBY to produce the effervescent, tangy drink so beloved by many modern foodies. The SCOBY, as I mentioned above, and will go into in more detail later on, is a symbiotic colony of healthy bacteria and yeast…
And it’s a probiotic
…so this next bit should come as no surprise. Just like fermented kimchi, kombucha is packed with beneficial bacteria: ‘good’ bacteria in probiotic foods and drinks like kombucha can aid digestion and keep your immune system in good shape.
Its nutritional value extends beyond bacteria
Much like the tea from which it is brewed, kombucha is rich in phytochemicals and phytonutrients that have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Studies conducted on animals (yeah, I know) have shown that these antioxidants can help in the promotion of healthy liver and kidney function.
Alongside this, kombucha contains B-vitamins and folic acid, both of which are crucial in aiding the body in new cell creation.
But don’t give up your morning coffee just yet
Kombucha provides caffeine, as do many types of tea. However, the amount tends to be miniscule. You can expect anything from 2 to 25mg, depending on the tea it is brewed with, whereas a cup of coffee will give you an average of 95mg. If you’re not a morning person, perhaps don’t rely on kombucha to kick start your day.
It’s mildly alcoholic
Emphasis on the ‘mild.’ A typical, shop bought bottle will contain less than 0.5% alcohol. You would have to drink a half dozen just to feel like you’ve had a single bottle of beer.
However, it’s worth noting that home brewed kombucha often contains a little more alcohol.
Kombucha’s nutritional profile
We’re beginning to flesh out a bit more about kombucha.
As I mentioned above, and will continue with greater detail below, there are a number of health benefits that fans of kombucha tout.
Though there is as yet a relative dearth of evidence to accompany these claims, kombucha nevertheless has some quite favourable nutritional quirks which can indeed have a positive impact on your diet.
Kombucha’s macronutrient profile
Kombucha tea typically contains around 10 calories or fewer per cup. Most of these calories are from carbohydrates – there are usually around 2-3 grams of sugar in one cup of kombucha.
There is no fat or protein in kombucha, though many recipes ask that you add some form of milk or cream – coconut milk is a particular favourite – which will obviously alter the drink’s macronutrient profile.
Kombucha’s micronutrient profile
Much like most other teas, kombucha doesn’t boast too substantive a micronutrient profile.
However, it does contain some B-complex vitamins, as I mentioned above; these include thiamine and niacin.
Alongside this are the phytochemicals and phytonutrients that I also previously mentioned. These have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, much like you could expect from green or black tea.
As it is made from fermented tea, it usually has some caffeine and alcohol in it. As I’ve already touched on, though, this is usually a small amount that can nevertheless vary between batches and brands.
Health benefits of kombucha
Now we need to get down to it: what are the main health benefits of drinking kombucha, and do they stack up as well as fans of the brew claim?
Read on to find out what health giving benefits kombucha can bring to your life:
It can aid your gut health
As one 2014 study shows, and as I covered in my quick facts above, kombucha’s fermentation process means that the drink is rich in probiotics. (1)
Probiotic bacteria are similar to the healthful bacteria that are found in the gut, and consuming them may improve overall gut health. Probiotic bacteria have been found to help in the treatment of diarrhoea, and some research suggests that they may help to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS.) (2)
Research into kombucha is tentative. More studies into how kombucha improves gut health are required, but the link between probiotics and gut health suggests that it may indeed support the digestive system.
The connection between such healthy bacteria as these and immune function is being drawn as more studies look into the subject.
It might have cancer inhibiting properties
There is some evidence to suggest that drinking kombucha could help to reduce the risk of cancer. A study from 2008 found that kombucha helped prevent the growth of cancer cells. (3)
Further research since then has found that kombucha might decrease the cancer cells’ survivability. Together, these studies seem to suggest kombucha could play a role in treating or preventing cancer. (4)
The temptation here might be to tout kombucha as a miracle cure, as many people in the nutrition industry seem to be doing. It is important to note, however, that these studies looked at the effects of kombucha on cancer cells in a laboratory setting. (5)
There is very little research exploring whether or not people who drink kombucha have a reduced risk of developing cancer, and none to suggest that it is any way a cure.
Obviously, if you suspect you may be showing any signs of cancer, it is always advisable to consult your physician.
It could aid in fighting heart disease
That being said, it’s important to note that these studies were conducted on animals in laboratory conditions: more research is needed before it can be argued in any definitive away that these results would occur in humans.
It may help with weight loss
A study conducted in 2008 found that obese people who took green tea extract burned calories at a higher rate and lost weight more effectively than control subjects who drank no green tea. For kombucha that is made with green tea, a similarly positive effect on weight loss may be achievable. (8)
However, once more, more research is needed, looking specifically at kombucha and weight loss before this claim can be made with any level of certainty.
It could help you keep your liver healthy
Kombucha is rich in antioxidants. These help to fight molecules in the body, like free radicals, that can cause long term cell damage.
Some studies have found that kombucha’s richness in these antioxidants can help to reduce toxins in the liver, suggesting that kombucha may play an important role in promoting liver health and reducing liver inflammation. (9)
Bear in mind, all studies to date have been animal based and all conducted in laboratory settings.
More research will be needed before we can say with certainty how kombucha can support liver health in humans.
What are the downsides to drinking Kombucha?
Most of the active downsides to drinking kombucha come with home brewing: the potential for mistakes during the process can have an adverse effect on the outcome, of course.
The risks of kombucha consumption
Obviously, it will be important to be careful if you are brewing your own kombucha at home. It can ferment for too long, and it is possible for the kombucha to become contaminated if it’s not brewed in a safe and sterile environment.
Either over-fermentation or contamination can lead to health problems. I’ll go through the brewing process in detail later in this article.
Although it still might be safer to buy branded kombucha from the shop, there is no reason that you shouldn’t give the DIY stuff a go – as long as you do everything right, it should be fine.
Note: shop bought, branded kombucha typically has a lower alcohol content than home brewed tea.
Other kombucha concerns
Brewing aside, there are still a few potential downsides to drinking kombucha from any source.
Whilst the chances of developing lactic acidosis are incredibly low – you would have to drink a LOT of kombucha to run this risk – kombucha nevertheless does contain lactic acid and so this should be a concern to bear in mind going in.
Some users have also reported bloating, headaches and/or allergic reactions to kombucha.
Kombucha has a high acidity, so if you are prone to heartburn and indigestion, it might not be for you.
The difference between store-bought and home-brewed kombucha
Like a lot of things, when you buy something packaged, processed, and labelled, a certain something is lost. In the case of kombucha, that ‘something’ can be quite tangible: commercially available kombucha is often limited by the bottling process.
The yeast fermentation and culturing is necessarily suppressed, otherwise carbonation would continue and the bottles would likely explode. This process is fine and safe, and leaves shop keepers without shards of glass and running kombucha all over their floors, but it leaves you with fewer varieties of bacteria and yeast. It also leaves a much more highly acidic product.
Many commercial kombuchas are pasteurized as well. As many of the health benefits of drinking kombucha are in its probiotic content – which is greatly reduced by pasteurisation – commercial kombucha therefore leaves you less of what you might have turned to it for in the first place.
Similarly, kombucha ‘teas’ sold in tea bags, whilst certainly nice and flavourful, do not offer the same qualities that exist in pure raw kombucha liquid (or even commercial kombucha) – including the probiotic content and acid contents that occur specifically during the fermentation process.
A genuine kombucha mushroom will be self-sustainable: it propagates a new baby kombucha mushroom each time, to be used in your next batch or donated to someone just starting out in the brewing process.
This means it is a cheap process with very few ongoing outlays. The cost you will be saving by home brewing will be enormous.
Commercial kombucha is very expensive and the cost is passed down to the consumer. Working out, now, how to make your own brews at home will save you a great deal of money longer term.
What is this SCOBY that everyone seems to be talking about?
A common misconception is that the “SCOBY” is the flattened, white material that grows on top of your kombucha brew. However, this is simply a by-product of the fermentation process – called a cellulose pellicle – and it is completely unnecessary for your brew if you have enough starter liquid.
The true SCOBY is the starter liquid: kombucha from a previous batch, used in a self-perpetuating cycle. This SCOBY starter liquid is rich in bacteria, yeast and beneficial acids, all of the necessary components for properly acidifying your brew and bringing about the fermentation process.
If you don’t have access to a starter liquid, this cellulose pellicle from Brew Your Bucha comes highly recommended. It will work very well for your first brew as the cellulose comes with the starter liquid intact. After the first, you should be able to save some for future brewing with no bother.
The SCOBY hotel
Your SCOBY hotel will be one of the greatest tools in your brewing arsenal: overlook it at your peril! It always makes sense to keep a few healthy kombucha cultures around in case of mould or anything else going wrong with your current batch.
And in addition, kombucha is growing more popular all the time: you never know when you’re going to meet somebody who would appreciate being given their first SCOBY.
It’s easy enough to make your very own SCOBY hotel, as this helpful video amply demonstrates:
Once you have your SCOBY hotel in place, however, what should you do with it? Can your SCOBYs just stay in there forever; is any maintenance required? Naturally, I’ll break it all down for you, right now.
Luckily, the kombucha culture is particularly robust. Where other cultures might be more delicate, disintegrating easily if not properly cared for, the kombucha culture endures a fair amount and can live in stasis for longer periods of time. This is partly down to their pH, which is fairly protective: it allows kombucha to be one of the safest ferments for home brewing.
However, you will need to check in with your SCOBY hotel from time to time. If you treat them right, the cultures can remain usable for weeks, months or, if you’re really good (and lucky!), even years, so they are worth keeping an eye on.
The bacteria and yeast within SCOBY live in symbiosis. However, all is not rosy: they are also in competition. It is your job, as a budding home brewer, to maintain the balance between them by nurturing the bacteria and always removing any excess yeast build up. So perform maintenance checks every two to four months, as well as whenever you see this build up.
One final note before we really get into it: you should never refrigerate your kombucha SCOBYs. The bacteria may go too deeply dormant to revive, or may die altogether. Obviously, this is not good: it will lead to a weaker, flat flavour to your brew, and quite likely to mold.
Looking after your SCOBY hotel is vital if you want your home brew to succeed. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your next batch:
How to remove the excess yeast
Yeast is vital to the whole process of your kombucha’s fermentation.
It provides nutrition for all your healthy bacteria to munch on and gives the carbonation we want for the final result. It will look like brown strands, or clumps of strands, that hang from the SCOBY’s body.
These strands will eventually gather on the bottom of your brewing vessel once their life cycle is finished. It is important to remove some of this yeast to prevent your symbiosis from growing out of balance, as mentioned above.
Start by cleaning your work space. I advise using clean towels soaked in vinegar water to wash it down. Sterilise all your utensils and any containers you will be using to stop the cultures from becoming contaminated. Then simply follow the steps below:
Remove your cultures from their hotel, placing them into a separate bowl. Cover them immediately to prevent contamination, using either a cloth or a lid.
Filter the hotel’s liquid through a strainer, into a clean container. A sieve or a cheesecloth will work well for this. The yeast strands will be large and will not pass through the sieve. However, there will still be plenty of yeast in the SCOBY and its liquid.
This is a potent starter for your next batch (see my section for how to brew your own kombucha, below.) Set aside some of this liquid in order to start your next hotel.
Rinse out your hotel jar. Use hot water to remove all the final traces of yeast from the vessel’s side and bottom. It might take a little elbow grease to scrub it out, but make sure to put in this effort as it will fully pay off.
Once you have trimmed and thinned your SCOBY (see my section on this, below, too), place it back into the hotel jar, or else use a clean jar. Add fresh, sweetened tea to the jar until it is half full.
Top this off with the potent starter to provide a protective pH and prevent mould from growing. The mix of tea to starter should be about 50/50.
SCOBY Thinning & Trimming
Luckily for everyone involved, SCOBY grows like nothing else.
Even when it is relatively dormant in the hotel, a new layer will likely grow across the top…and the longer you leave it, the thicker this layer will grow. If it gets too thick, vital oxygen will not be able to reach the liquid below.
So, you need to thin or trim your SCOBY down to size to keep this from happening:
Once you’ve prepared your work surfaces and sterilised your utensils, remove the thick top layer from your hotel and follow these instructions:
First, try to pull the SCOBY layers apart with your fingers. If it has formed itself into thin layers, they may peel easily. They might rip apart, but don’t worry: the SCOBY will be fine with this.
If you can’t do it with your fingers, try using a pair of sanitised scissors or serrated knife.
Either trim the culture down to size with your sterilised scissors to reduce its thickness, or else slice the culture in half with your serrated knife.
Keep the SCOBY flat on a cutting board as you work the knife horizontally through, slicing it like a bread roll. Discard any edges or excess pieces.
Here’s another video from our friends over at You Brew Kombucha:
How to brew your own kombucha
Before we get into the nitty gritty of brewing your own kombucha from home, it’s worth looking at a few ground rules: things to do, and not to do, when setting up your brew.
Do’s and don’ts when brewing your kombucha
Sterilise all of your equipment before you begin. This includes your brewing vessel, your utensils, your work surface…anywhere and anything likely to be involved with the process. Boiled water works well for this, or else you can use white spirit vinegar for a little more potency.
Use glass for home brewing. If you’re looking to go larger scale, then fermentation grade stainless steel would be a worthy investment.
Make sure you keep your brew in a space with decent air flow.
Once you’ve brewed up your kombucha, keep it warm. Ideally, it should be between 20-27 degrees. The lower end of this range will give you a slower, less sour kombucha. Higher temperatures will give you a faster fermentation process.
If you are going away at all, feel free to store your kombucha in the fridge with a lid on. The cold will temporarily halt the fermentation process.
Do not store your kombucha in direct sunlight: ultraviolet rays can damage the bacteria content and may disrupt the fermentation process.
Do not ferment above 30 degrees Celsius. The kombucha’s yeast will go into overdrive and will give you some undesired flavours and alcohol.
Do not keep your kombucha and its brewing vessel near any sources of smoke.
Also keep your brewing vessel away from flowering plant life, otherwise you run the risk of cross pollination.
Never work with hot tea, always add it to your starter liquid when it is at room temperature. Anything above 35 degrees Celsius will start to kill the culture’s bacteria.
Basic kombucha ingredients:
- 1 kombucha culture / S.C.O.B.Y (A wide range can be found here)
- Starter liquid i.e. 200 ml of original, unflavoured kombucha or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. (If you purchase your S.C.O.B.Y online, it will most likely come with enough starter liquid for a 2-litre batch.)
- 2 litres of filtered water
- 4–6 tea bags (8–12 grams) organic tea bags (black, green, white or oolong)
- 160g organic granulated cane sugar (we like Anthony’s Organic)
Kit you’ll need to brew kombucha at home:
- Glass jar capable of holding 2 litres, like these
- Breathable cotton cloth to place over the jar
- A warm and airy space to let your kombucha brew
Kombucha brewing method:
Boil your water.
Place your tea bags in the glass jar and pour in 500ml of the boiled water (about a quarter of your total brew.) Let the tea bags steep for about 10 minutes or so before removing with a sterilised spoon.
Add the sugar to the tea and mix until it is fully dissolved.
Top up this mixture with the rest of the water, bringing the total volume to about 2 litres. Leave the tea to cool to at least below 86°F (30°C).
When the tea is cool enough, add your SCOBY and starter liquid to the mix.
Cover with the cloth and place in a warm space with plenty of air flow. Leave it there to do its thing for 10-14 days.
Enjoy your first kombucha brew!
Here’s a quick video for those who prefer visuals!
How long does it last?
Kombucha should last indefinitely. It is acidic enough to be protected from contaminants, so as long as you keep it refrigerated it should last you for as long as you want it.
A lot of brewers like to rotate their SCOBYs through their batches and hotel, taking both the SCOBY and the starter liquid from the hotel for a new batch, whilst returning the previously used SCOBY to the hotel until it is needed again.
The thinking behind this is that it creates a dynamic hotel environment which should keep more cultures active and thriving while also providing rest periods which may benefit the cultures.
Others like to keep the one SCOBY going from one batch to the next, once they have found their preferred balance and flavour.
Obviously, either option is open to you, and both should yield good results.
How to get maximum carbonation from your brew
Fancy a bit more fizz? Below are a few tips to help bring out the bubbles, but first…
Kombucha Carbonation: What to Expect?
You may find that your kombucha is disappointingly flat.
The important thing here is to manage your expectations. When your main experience of carbonated drinks is in the form of fizzy pop and beer, you will naturally have higher hopes for your brew.
However, all of these products – even many beers, though they can be naturally carbonated – go through a process known as forced carbonation: CO2 is forced into the beverage and then kept under pressure in order to maintain the effect.
So, if you find that your home brewed kombucha is not fizzy enough, it might just be that it is suffering by comparison to regular, forced carbonated drinks.
But if you do want more carbonation…
If you really want that fizzy pop feeling, there are ways to increase the carbonation of your tea beyond what a standard brew might give.
Luckily, I’ve got a few top tips to help you out with putting that sparkle back into your glass.
They are easy enough to achieve, even for a newcomer to brewing, so don’t be afraid to try them.
Probably the easiest way to get additional fizz into your drink comes in the bottling process.
Whichever method you are using to brew your kombucha, you will always have to bottle it to make it effervescent. During the bottling period, the brew will go through a process called ‘secondary fermentation.’
Depending on the conditions of your brew, you will either get a little or a lot in the fizz department. Bottles have even been known to explode when they were not well monitored. As a part of this stage, there are three key tips to bring to the table. You can use any number of these, or all three.
Before we carry on, however, it’s worth mentioning that there is one vital part underpinning the whole process: you need to have tight caps for your bottles. This will especially be something to look out for if your are using reusable bottles, as these caps are often a little looser and won’t hold the bubbles very well. Swing top bottles might be the safest bet, here.
But enough about bottles, and on to my top 3 tips for brewing fizzy kombucha:
ONE: Fill the bottle completely: leave just a centimetre or so of air at the top and no more. Doing this will reduce the amount of oxygen present in the bottle, which will in turn cause more CO2 to dissolve into the kombucha.
This stage is often referred to as the anaerobic fermentation stage, meaning ‘without air.’ The fermentation process thus far has been with oxygen, but now we want to starve the brew of oxygen.
This will induce a different type of action between the bacteria and yeast in the base culture, which will produce more bubbles.
TWO: Give it some sugar. Yeast goes wild for sugar, producing more bubbles, and so adding in a little sugar to the mix will kick start the fizz perfectly.
Aim for around a half a teaspoon per 300ml bottle. This is a trick that a lot of beer brewers employ to create carbonation.
However, kombucha is a lot more symbiotic with pieces of fruit or fruit puree, juice, and other natural sugar sources: the bubbles you will get from these natural sugars will take it to the next level!
THREE: Leave your bottles out of the fridge. When you’ve got your kombucha bottled up tight, airflow stops being an issue. In fact, the less airflow, the better, really, so any dark, hidden cupboard will serve your purposes well.
Remember to keep an eye on them, just in case they look like they’re going to blow, but otherwise leave them alone for at least three days.
Leaving them out of the fridge like this will mean that they continue to ferment, giving you plenty of fizz and a deep flavour.
Types of sugar for use in kombucha brewing
Some sugars work better than others for kombucha brewing. Here are some for you to consider:
Cane sugar is the type of sugar most commonly used in kombucha brewing. It has been used by humans for thousands of years, and is most likely what has been used for centuries in kombucha production.
It will work perfectly for your hungry little SCOBY, giving it something good to munch on. The yeast will easily convert the simple sugars into ethanol, and then the bacteria will turn the ethanol into healthy acids.
Top Tip: Using organic, evaporated cane juice will allow you to avoid any added harmful chemicals you might find in the bleaching process for a lot of commercial sugars.
Molasses is a by-product of sugar cane processing and contains more iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium than your average, table sugar.
It is a little more complex than refined sugar, so the SCOBY could take a little while longer to break down the molasses’ components before getting to the sucrose. However, the brew you will get from molasses will have all that added nutritional goodness.
Watch out for unwanted sourness, however. The higher mineral content could cause this to happen, and so it might be best to use a combination of molasses and other sugars.
Use molasses at a one to one ratio with however much sugar the recipe calls for.
A natural sweetener that has been rising in popularity in recent years, agave can be used in kombucha brewing.
As with molasses, agave might bring about a heightened sour taste to your brew, so it might be a good idea to mix it with other sugars.
Try out a few different ratios until you get the taste you want.
Coconut palm sugar
If you want to avoid cane sugar, coconut sugar would be a good place to turn.
This dark sugar, made by crystallising coconut palm tree sap, is rich in minerals. Kombucha made with coconut palm sugar will often have a sour or bitter taste.
Continuous vs batch brewing: which is best?
Of course, batch brewing can be attractive to first time brewers: you can get one single batch, see how it turns out, and then plan your next one accordingly.
However, continuous brew systems are easy to set up and maintain, and they have a number of benefits over batch brewing:
Continuous brew systems are easy to look after.
Live cultures will always require a degree of attention.
That said, continuous brewing systems will require less maintenance than if you are consistently changing brewing containers.
They can help to keep your SCOBY healthy and free of mould.
Maintaining the ecosystem created during the fermentation process will provide the best defence against mould growth. It will also help to insulate against invasion by transient yeasts and bacteria.
Continuous brew systems will also provide the healthiest environment for the SCOBY thrive in. It will allow the yeast and bacteria to develop relatively undisturbed with a consistent supply of new food.
A bountiful harvest!
You will have potentially endless kombucha, if you want it. Continuously brewing kombucha will give you a much more consistent supply.
Can kombucha go bad?
Firstly, let’s take a look at shop bought kombucha. Some brands are more durable than others: some bottles can be stored at room temperature for a number of months without going bad, whilst others require refrigeration from the start.
So, unless the bottle specifically states that the kombucha can be stored at room temperature, it will always be your best bet to keep it in the fridge.
Similar to something like yogurt or kefir, kombucha is a cultured food. It is rich in probiotics, hence many of the health claims that surround its usage.
However, these cultures will tend to get more active at room temperature. This can result in excess carbonation and can turn the kombucha quite tart.
In extreme cases, kombucha has been known to literally turn into vinegar, which is obviously not desirable.
If you do keep your kombucha outside the fridge, make sure that the bottle is stored away from sunlight and any heat sources. These might otherwise compromise the drink’s living cultures.
With homemade kombucha, you will want to store it in the fridge once the fermentation process is done and you have bottled your brew. The colder temperature will slow down the fermentation process significantly, keeping it at the point you most want it right after brewing.
Here’s a quick video on how to store kombucha:
How much Kombucha should you drink?
There is very little research to signify optimal quantities of kombucha consumption, or indeed the benefits and risks of drinking it at all.
Nevertheless, the Centre for Disease Control recommends that four ounces of kombucha can safely be consumed up to three times per day. This will give a maximum daily amount of twelve ounces that can safely be drunk, or 340 ml. (10)
Many commercially prepared bottles are sixteen ounces, or 450 ml, and so thus exceed the daily recommended intake.
Possible hazards of drinking kombucha tea
GI distress, headaches, nausea, and, in extreme cases, ketoacidosis (a medical emergency in which your blood is too acidic) are all possible side effects of drinking too much kombucha.
If you have home brewed your own kombucha and have fermented it in a clay vessel, or in any other container that might leach lead into the final product, lead toxicity is also possible.
There are several people who should definitely, entirely forgo kombucha. These are pregnant women and young children, alongside anybody suffering with certain chronic diseases (especially liver or kidney disease and HIV/AIDs) and anybody with a compromised immune system or a history of alcohol dependency.
It will always be better to consult a qualified healthcare provider before beginning a supplementation regime or diet that includes kombucha tea.
These recipes prove that there’s more to this luscious liquid than the drink itself!
Kombucha mimosa mocktail
If you are looking for an alcohol free cocktail recipe, this kombucha mimosa mocktail will be a good place to turn.
It’s tasty, has just two ingredients, and can be made in just a few minutes. It’s the perfect drink if you’re going through a dry spell, or if you want to spice up a Sunday brunch.
Kombucha salad dressing
Usually, you would often make a salad dressing by mixing oil and vinegar with spices and other flavourings.
However, this kombucha salad dressing is perfect for a healthy dose of probiotics. It uses kombucha instead of vinegar, giving a tangy flavour with a good deal of substance to it.
Just remember to omit the honey, vegans!
Blueberry ginger kombucha
This different take on the classic kombucha recipe will give you a lovely combination of tangy and sweet.
The magic to your blueberry ginger kombucha is in the sauce, with blueberry syrup added during the brewing process.
And the result is delicious – blueberries and fresh grated ginger, boiled down with some sugar and left to simmer until it thickens. Try this one!
And that’s me done with kombucha for the moment.
Hopefully, we have covered everything you need to know about this famous brew in enough detail. Its status as an antioxidant provider is well deserved, as it is with any tea or tea product.
Though it’s not the most highly caffeinated, it may still give you a little bit of a buzz, and the process of brewing your own kombucha can be immensely satisfying.
However, as with many other products growing in popularity as fashion dictates, do be careful to not attribute too many things to this drink: it is not the cure all that many might have you believe.
Whichever way you decide to bring kombucha into your diet or vegan supplement regime, why don’t you let us know what works best for you? Are you a shop bought or home brewer kind of person, or do you have any hints, tips or recipes you would like to share with us?
Don’t forget to share in the comments down below!
About The Author:
James Dixon lives, works, and trains in Glasgow, Scotland.
He is an active freelance health and fitness writer, fully qualified personal trainer and veggie athlete. He holds several black belts and is currently training in both strength/barbell athletics and kickboxing. He has had an interest in animal welfare all his life, having been raised vegetarian, and has trained numerous athletes on plant based diets to great effect in recent years. Writing on vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and training is a passion for him.
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- Matthew A Ciorba | A Gastroenterologist’s Guide to Probiotics | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3424311/
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- ThummalaSriharia, Ramachandran Arunkumarb, Jagadeesan Arunakaranb, Uppala Satyanarayanac | Downregulation of signalling molecules involved in angiogenesis of prostate cancer cell line (PC-3) by kombucha (lyophilized) | https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S221052391200044X
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- Ahmed Aloulou, Khaled Hamden, Dhouha Elloumi, Madiha Bou Ali, Khaoula Hargafi, Bassem Jaouadi, Fatma Ayadi, Abdelfattah Elfeki, Emna Ammar | Hypoglycemic and antilipidemic properties of kombucha tea in alloxan-induced diabetic rats | https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22591682/
- Khaled Bellassoued, Ferdaws Ghrab, Fatma Makni-Ayadi, Jos Van Pelt, Abdelfattah Elfeki, Emna Ammar | Protective effect of kombucha on rats fed a hypercholesterolemic diet is mediated by its antioxidant activity | https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25856715/
- Paradee Auvichayapat, Montira Prapochanung, Oratai Tunkamnerdthai, Bung-orn Sripanidkulchai, Narong Auvichayapat, Bandit Thinkhamrop, Soontorn Kunhasura, Srisuda Wongpratoom, Supat Sinawat, Pranithi Hongprapas | Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais: A randomized, controlled trial | https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18006026/
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- CDC | Unexplained Severe Illness Possibly Associated with Consumption of Kombucha Tea — Iowa, 1995 | https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00039742.htm