Kombucha Tea: A Reintroduction

As a reader of this site, you’ve almost certainly heard about the fermented tea with a funny name, Kombucha. Perhaps you’ve brewed it yourself (or still do) or maybe you’ve only ever tried a store bought brand. Even if you’ve never tried it before, allow me to reintroduce you to Kombucha from the beginning and clue you in on a few secrets and tricks, including flavoring ideas and my favorite way to brew, the Continuous Brew method.

The first question is, with all the fermented food choices out there, why Kombucha? Well, let me say, I love a glass of kefir, be it water or milk, and enjoy yogurt regularly too. Sauerkraut and fermented veggies are staples at my table and lately I’ve been experimenting with a ginger bug. Still, Kombucha is queen because fits into any time of my day and with any meal, especially because I mix up my flavors for variety. I enjoy something a little sweeter in the morning, like a pink lemonade Kombucha, usually mixed half and half with water to help with my morning detox and rehydration. Then I might switch up to a green power Kombucha with lunch or just a tall glass of unflavored from my home tap to help with digestion after eating. Really any time of day seems to work for me and my family.

Kombucha, also, because of the ingredients and brew cycle, is a longer, deeper ferment that offers more, in my opinion. More complex acids, more flexibility in when and how to flavor or serve, more ways to use the tea and culture to improve your diet and household; in this way, Kombucha can be a gateway into closer connection with traditional ways of living, not only by fermenting more foods but also in ways such as making your own household cleaners, bath products, first aid items, pet care and more. The living spirit of Kombucha is personified by the abundance it is constantly creating, a message of everlasting life.

Some people may find the flavor off-putting at first, especially if their taste buds are over sugar-fied. Some ways to ease the intensity include adding it to smoothies, pouring it over ice or diluting with water or juice. You still receive all of the health benefits and over time may discover that your tastes shift.

My last reason for loving Kombucha? It’s fun in so many ways: seeing the SCOBYs grow, experimenting with different tea or sugar combinations, and of course the never ending possibilities when it comes to flavoring. It’s also social. It’s a wonderful thing to bring a bottle to parties, sure to inspire conversation and, if you’re a talented kitchen witch, win over some new fermented foods converts. There is something wonderfully social about sharing a glass of Kombucha that brings sparkling magic to conversations.

History of Kombucha Tea

The legend of Kombucha Tea stretches back thousands of years as home brewed beverage, often maintained by the grandmother and passed down through the generations. It is said to have been invented in 220BC for a Chinese Emperor, favored by Genghis Khan for keeping his soldiers strong on long journeys, credited for saving Nobel Prize winner Alexsander Solzhenitsyn’s life while in exile in Siberia and rumored to have been on Ronald Regan’s daily menu during his presidency. Modern day movie stars seem drawn to the drink, while recently health conscious types and athletes have finally begun touting the benefits of including fermented foods in our modern diets, specifically Kombucha.

Why do we need Kombucha or any fermented foods?

You don’t need me to tell you that the state of America’s health is in SAD shape (pun intended). When there is money to be made off illness, then expect illness to thrive, unless we take our health back into our own hands. Foods that are nutrient dense, unadulterated, fermented, sprouted and so on are making a huge comeback. “You are what you eat” is finally breaking through our very thick skulls and making some sense as it rattles around in there. We must make better choices and we must get educated and educate those around us or we are to blame!

As many readers here are familiar with Weston A Price and his findings, you already know that fermented foods play a crucial role for digestion, mineral absorption and maintaining balance. The healthy bacteria in sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir have evolved with humans and without them our quality of life simply is not the same. Side note: have you been staying updated on The advances of the incredibly cool Human Microbiome Project. Scientists made the connection that they can’t even finish sequencing our human DNA until they map all or most of the bacteria in our gut first! These bacteria literally inform our body’s cells how to behave. It’s no wonder fermented foods have been showing such promise with improving the condition of autistic children when you consider these new discoveries. I recommend you visit their website, it’s fascinating stuff.

So what about the benefits of drinking Kombucha? While all fermented foods are good for you, for me, Kombucha is queen. Made from 3 simple ingredients – tea, sugar and water, the SCOBY transforms them into a powerful detoxifying and alkalizing tonic. Moreover, in addition to beneficial bacteria, Kombucha has been specifically shown to aid healthy liver function and detoxification, balance blood sugar and improve digestion. From personal experience, I know that the more Kombucha I consume, the less sugar my body can tolerate. My skin cleared up, digestion improved and it even has pulled poison oak out of my skin when I applied it topically.

How To Make Your Own Kombucha – The Ancient Method

Making Kombucha at home is very easy. Always start with quality ingredients, which means tea, sugar and water all free of toxins and a healthy, full-size Kombucha culture, never dehydrated or stored in the refrigerator (those lead to mold). Follow the super simple recipe on and in about 7 days you will have delicious homemade Kombucha that you can bottle and flavor to your heart’s desire. There is no downside to experimenting with this ancient ferment.

Okay, I cannot lie, there is one down side to brewing Kombucha, but it’s not that much different from any food preparation: the clean up. A batch of Kombucha usually takes between 7-10 days to ferment, and at the end it’s time to bottle and start another batch. The best way around this problem that I have found is called Continuous Brewing (CB).

This method is actually most like the ancient method for brewing Kombucha and is very simple. As Kombucha is removed from the brewing vessel (via a spigot, the secret key to CB) to be consumed or bottled for later, more sweet tea is added to the brewer. Because only a small amount has been removed, it will take only a short time, much less than the normal brewing cycle, for that sweet tea to be transformed into mature Kombucha Tea (KT). It’s important to start with a large batch of mature KT, at least 2 gallons, so that the sweet tea will quickly transform into Kombucha.

So obviously CB saves time. Many people also appreciate not having to handle the cultures all the time, though I admit I really do love that process. With CB, the big SCOBY that grows only needs to be tended to once or twice a year. That was basically what convinced my mom and step-dad to start making their own Kombucha. My mom maintains the continuous brewer and he can just pour it from the tap right into his glass and never have to see what’s going on behind the scenes. They recently added a second brewer because they started drinking it all day instead of diet soda. It helps control his sugar cravings so that he doesn’t have to take medication for adult onset diabetes.

The last reason some prefer the CB method is that it’s a deeper, healthier brew. The reason is that at the 15 day mark and 30 day mark of the brewing cycle, new healthful acids are expressed in the Kombucha fermentation process. Most of the time, Kombucha brewed in the batch method for 15 or 30 days would just be too sour. In CB, old Kombucha and young Kombucha alike can mix together, producing a delicious drink.

I hope you will come by Kombucha Kamp and enjoy all the free videos and information we have available, and consider making Kombucha brewing a part of your real food routine.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    I’ve been fermenting Kombucha for a couple months and have been looking at your (wonderful!) site about other fermented things. Is there a comparison available somewhere delineating the benefits of each (Kombucha, Kvass, Water Kefir) compared to the others? If I only do one, what am I missing? If I do them all, am I just wasting my time?

  2. crystal says

    does one need to worry about the sugar in the kombucha? i just starting adding this into my diet so i was just wondering what your thoughts were on that with the sugar?

    thanks!

    • Jenny says

      Secondary fermentation under pressure (like a flip-top bottle) is what prevents CO2 from escaping causing a bubbly brew.

  3. Lisa Rule says

    Hi there,

    My mother used to brew Kombucha when I was a child & I used to love it! I’m now trying to find a mushroom to start doing this myself – do you know of anyone in the Nelson area that can help me locate one?
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards
    Lisa

  4. says

    @Miriam:
    Your comment is almost 2 months old and I hope you’ve managed to find a culture already. If not, please get in touch with me at support wabio.co.nz and I can help you out (I’m in Christchurch).

    Jo, Wabi O Kombucha

  5. Brent says

    Hi, does anyone know how to brew kumbucha that has less alcohol than the standard brew of 0.5%
    Thanks-Brent

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