Every time I mention Kombucha to anyone unfamiliar with it, they get a half confused/half alarmed look on their face and ask as calmly as possible, “What is that?” Well, no need to be alarmed folks. Its tea. Probiotic tea.
Probiotics have been receiving a lot of press lately in regards to their role in maintaining a healthy immune system, a healthy digestive tract and combating some of the negative effects of antiobiotics. In fact, a quick search of all of the major news networks will turn up articles written within the past year or so, on the benefits of probiotics.
While most Americans looking to add probiotics into their system do so through the wide variety of supplements offered online and in their local pharmacy, this can also be accomplished through diet. In fact, up until the last 50-100 years this is how probiotics were introduced into the systems of every person on the planet.
Fermentation, in the context of food, is a means of preservation in which sugars and carbohydrates are converted into alcohols using yeast or bacteria. The bacteria feed off of the sugar present in the food, multiply, and create anaerobic conditions that preserve the food. When the food is consumed the bacteria are as well, they enter the system and viola! They become probiotics!
Common examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut and apple cider vinegar. Kombucha is a fermented tea made from taking a caffeinated tea, adding sugar, and a probiotic starter called a SCOBY and allowing the tea to ferment for 7-10 days. After it ferments you flavor it, seal it and allow it to sit for another 3 days. This creates a bubbly delicious beverage that adds probiotics to your diet and acts as a healthy replacement for soda or other similar beverages.
It is very simple to make, and the actual prep time is only a few minutes, the hardest part is waiting, but once you start you can make it continuously so that as soon as one batch is used up you have another batch ready to go. Here are instructions for making a half gallon of kombucha, for instructions on different sized batches, or to buy a SCOBY click here. If you know someone who makes kombucha see if they have an extra SCOBY they can give you, this is how I came across mine. You reuse the SCOBY over and over again so as long as nothing happens to your SCOBY, it is a one time purchase.
The best part of making your own kombucha is that it saves you so much money! A gallon of Kombucha can be made for about $2. The cost of one small bottle of kombucha at a health food store can be between $4-$6! Plus, if you begin adding a lot of probiotics into your diet through a variety of fermented foods you may be able to decrease the amount you spend on supplements.
Spiced Apple Kombucha Recipe:
- 4 Tea Bags (Black and Green Tea Are Best, DO NOT use herbal tea)
- ½ cup of plain white sugar (If you are concerned about sugar intake like me, remember that the point of the sugar is to provide food for the bacteria. The vast majority of the sugar will be gone by the time you drink your tea)
- 6 Cups of Water
- ½ Gallon Sized Glass Container
- 1 apple
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ½ tsp of ground cloves
- a piece of cloth or a coffee filter
- a rubber band
Bring water to a light boil on the stove. Pour your water into your glass container, add your tea bags and stir in sugar until it is dissolved. Let your tea set until it is cooled and remove the tea bags. Add in your SCOBY. Cover the top of your container with something breathable like a piece of fabric or a coffee filter and rubber band it to the top. Allow it to sit in a dark place undisturbed for 7-10 days. After 7 days taste a little bit and allow it to sit until it has reached your desired level of sweetness/sourness. When this has been achieved remove your SCOBY and either put it directly in a new batch of kombucha or place it in a container, pour in a little bit of your kombucha with the SCOBY, and place it in the refrigerator. Cut up your apple into chunks, mix them into your kombucha along with your spices. Close your container with a tight fitting lid or transfer it to a container with an air lock. Allow it to sit for 3 days. Then move it to the refrigerator and enjoy!