We’ve always known that our gut has some sort of influence over us…. “I’ve got a gut feeling”, “It was just a gut reaction”, “I just went for it – it was a gut instinct”. And interestingly these are about feelings, and about emotions.
We’ve known for a long time that a healthy gut has a good effect on our physical health, and science, relatively recently, has been uncovering compelling evidence that our gut biome effects our emotions and therefore our mental health. I wrote a little about it here.
I’ve been exploring fermented foods as we know that they support a healthy gut biome and I’ve discovered the wonderful drink Kombucha! Kombucha is a ‘live’ drink – full of stuff that, it is said, to improve your gut biome.
The origins of Kombucha are uncertain. It is thought to have originated in the Far East, probably China, and has been consumed there for at least two thousand years. The Tsin Dynasty (around 221 BC) referred to it as “The Tea of Immortality”. It is thought that the name comes from Japan in 415 AD when a Korean physician called Kombu or Kambu treated the Emperor Inyko with the tea and it took his name, “Kombu” and “cha” (cha meaning tea).
A word of caution…. this is a live drink and, it is reported that, during the brewing and storing of it, things can go astray and result in contaminants that may not be good for you. But, there are also lots of websites that report the benefits of this drink. Research has not been conclusive as to the benefits but certainly lots of people report subjective improvements in their health. The advice is the same as ever… if you have an underlying health condition are young, or old, or pregnant, then definitely consult your doctor first.
You’re going to need a few things to get going. You’re going to need a vessel to brew your kombucha in, green tea bags, sugar (organic ideally – same for the tea bags), and a Scoby. The Scoby looks like a beige rubbery pancake like disc. The Scoby is a culture of bacteria and yeasts. This culture is placed in sweetened green tea and turns a bowl full of sweet tea into a bowl full of the drink. I got my starter pack from the lovely people at Happy Kombucha.
The kit comes with instructions that are easy to follow but essentially you make 2 litres of green tea (using about 8 tea bags) and add 170g (or thereabouts) of sugar. It’s important to avoid metal utensils when making your kombcuha as contact with metal kills the scoby. You then pour the tea, once it’s cooled to room temperature, into your 2 litre vessel which you’ve popped your scoby into. You then leave this for a period of time (I leave mine for 7 days) at room temperature (low 20 degrees) and the as the Kombucha culture digests the sugar it produces a range of organic acids, vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes, plus the probiotic microorganisms themselves.
Then the brew is ready you decant into containers for storage. Some people let it continue to brew at room temperature for a little longer once decanted to get a more fizzy brew (you need to ‘burp’ your bottles by releasing the gas in them daily to avoid an explosion!) Personally I pop mine straight in the fridge and once it’s chilled it’s ready to drink! It tastes a little like apples juice to me. The longer you brew it the less sweet it becomes as more of the sugar is transformed. It has a slightly yeasty taste, and a lovely fizz. It can have traces of alcohol in it but nothing that’s going to cause you any problems – but worth noting in case you need to avoid alcohol completely.
…and then you start again with more tea, and your scoby that you will have left in a little of last weeks tea. In time your scoby will develop a baby scoby – mine grew one big enough to use in another 2 litre vessel during the first brew!
You are advised to introduce it to your body gradually before having a bigger glass. I started with probably quarter of a pint a day and I’m now settled at a little under half a pint a day. I’ll keep you posted with how it’s going! It seems to have helped me with acid reflux which is a good thing!
There is more Kombucha know how on the City Homesteads website – click here