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The Mother of Probiotic Drinks: Kombucha

probiotic drinks, weight loss, fermentation, beneficial bacteriaProbiotic Drink: Kombucha

This is hands down one of the best probiotic drinks available.  Kombucha tea is like an aged wine; the longer it ferments in its own tea, the more robust its benefits become.

Simply put, it is a strong contender for weight loss, digestive health, and probiotics!   Kombucha tea is made from a SCOBY “Mother,” hence my play on words in the title 😉

Symbiotic         Culture           Of          Bacteria      and          Yeasts…  that eat the sugar in the tea, creating:

  • (good) acids,
  • beneficial bacteria,
  • vitamins and
  • minerals.

Enjoying store bought Kombucha? That’s a great way to get started and explore flavors BUT read this quick post about how to choose the right one for maximum benefits.

Handle Your “Mother” With Care

The Happy Herbalist has-by far, the best detailed compilation of data regarding the scope of Kombucha tea.

Since Kombucha is made with a caffeinated tea combined with sugar, in order to decrease the amount of caffeine in the probiotic drink, you will need to “starve” the SCOBY so that it consumes the caffeine after the sugar content is low, which does leave for a more bitter, tart drink.  In light of gut health and therefore weight loss, this sour stimulates bile production to help with digestion.

Statistically, the best tea in which to brew your Mother SCOBY for at least 14 days is white tea, but any unflavored tea will create a good environment: “White kombucha has almost twice the beneficial acids while maintaining a pleasant taste   Coffee can also be used, but it is a more bitter taste.”

Remember, it is your (SCOBY) Mother’s tea and you need to take proper care of it!  Many people will touch and handle the leathery feeling SCOBY, but I really don’t recommend that as it thrives off bacteria and it is easy to contaminate and introduce bad bacteria directly to it through much handling.

Bottling Your Own Kombucha Tea Video

Let your Mother have her SCOBY and her tea and use a glass jar with a plastic spigot.  This is called a continuous brew kombucha.  You take some, leave some, and mix in new.  A glass container works well because then you can visually calculate your levels.

This continuous brew method also wields extraordinary weight loss results because the beneficial bacteria and acids are able to thrive and repopulate in the tea mixture instead of a diluted amount from the single container tea brew.  The longer the beneficial bacteria strains are able to grow and thrive, the more complex beneficial bacteria benefits!

A Cold Tea Brew

Live, active beneficial bacteria are very heat sensitive.  While the tea needs to be hot in order to steep and dissolve the added food sugar, the Mother needs her tea cool.  The Happy Herbalist says:

“I have found it best to keep the temperature between 74 F (23.5C) and 84F (29C). The warmer temperature produces a faster more consistent ferment while the lower temperatures produce a less harsh more mellow taste though more inconsistent and with a greater susceptibility to molds and pathogens forming.

A live raw kombucha ferment… is never static. New acids and nutrients are constantly created and combined, into ever-changing – though predictable zymurgy.”

I keep my kombucha and other ferments in the cabinet above my refrigerator.  It remains a constant 71 degrees and has little variation since the cabinet is seldom opened, save for a prop bag to keep the door cracked for airflow.   At one point, when my spouse was overjoyed with kombucha, we had 30 two-gallon glass jars covered with cloths lining our split-level cellar half wall all.year.long.

Think dark and cool for your Mother.  Warmer temps and exposure to light means a quicker ferment and less “potent” beneficial bacteria.  That also means fruit flies… so keep it covered with a cloth and rubber band!

Watch Your Sugar, “Mother”

Several factors influence the levels and potency of the kombucha tea: sugar, tea type, oxygen, time and temperature.

The amount of sugar: too little and the ferment is incomplete. Too much and either one of two things may happen. One, the yeasts will “rush” or “flush” where they overwhelm the surface with bubbles and spent yeasts cells ending up with a poor ferment.

Or two, the yeasts will become “stuck” and no fermentation at all will take place or a very slow ferment will happen. Referred to as the “crabtree effect” live being overstuffed after a large holiday dinner.

Yeast work fastest at about 1-2% sugar concentration. High sugar levels actually retard the growth of yeast; Initial concentrations above 25% are problems. To make the strongest possible elixir increase the sugar gradually. For example adding 1/3 on Day 1. 1/3 on Day 2, and the final 1/3 on Day 3.” [1]

 

Grow Your Own SCOBY

kombucha tea, probiotic drinkAs complex as the fermentation process within that cup of tea, growing your own SCOBY and then having a continuous brew in place for more goodness is simple.  If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to sustain 30 jars of it for years! (Those were a lot of work because they were NOT continuous brew systems. Sigh.)

Again, go to The Kitchn for great tutorials.  I started there since it had been years since I had grown my own SCOBY.  Like in nature, you need a Mother; you need to purchase a SCOBY for your first KT.

While you can purchase healthy SCOBYs online, like at Cultures For Health, it is cheaper to purchase a store bought bottle of GT’s 100% Raw Kombucha drink.  It will, however, lengthen the time before you can be sipping on your own homegrown KT.

The day I was itching to start, I could only locate a 95% raw GT drink that was flavored with the green Spirulina.  I took the gamble and went through with it, but let as much of the green “dust” settle onto the bottom of the measuring cup before I poured it into my cooled tea.  (Spoiler alert: it worked!)

The KitchnWhat I did with The Kitchn’s post:

  1. 7 cups water boiled and then 4 bags of tea left in to steep til a dark color
  2. 1/2 cup white granulated sugar stirred into to steeped tea until dissolved
  3. 1 cup of the GT Raw store bought kombucha (and then I drank the rest) added into the sugar tea after it cooled.  I was impatient and put the tea outside in the winter air to speed up the cooling process.  When that left me even more impatient, I did add like 4-6 small ice cubes.  Yes, this diluted it a touch, but gave me the instant gratification from the cool to the touch KT.
  4. Covered the glass jar with a clean linen cloth, secured it with a rubber band, and set it in my warm cabinet.  I wrote its conception date on the glass jar with a permanent marker 😉

I checked on it at two weeks and was delighted to see a very thin, white film on the surface of the tea.  My very own Mother (SCOBY) was growing in her own (jar of) tea!

Then, I tasted it tonight and decided it was done!  It sank to the bottom, but that is OK.kombucha SCOBY probiotic tea

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