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Facts About Kombucha You Need to Know

facts about kombucha

Kombucha, although relatively new in the Philippines, has been taking American store shelves by storm for a few years now. It’s one of the trendiest beverages in the market. Thanks to celebrities like Joe Rogan, who constantly posts about his love for Kombucha and Shailene Woodley, who makes her own booch and other people who swear by the benefits they got from drinking this fermented concoction. But, what the heck really is Kombucha Tea?

What is Kombucha tea?

Kombucha Tea is a beverage made through mixing tea, sugar, water and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). The SCOBY is the culture that is responsible in fermenting the tea. The yeast in the SCOBY is responsible for converting the sugar to alcohol while bacteria converts alcohol into acetic acid that results to the sour taste of kombucha tea.

Photo credit: Chipotle Potato
Photo credit: Chipotle Potato

The Origin of Kombucha Tea

The origin of Kombucha tea is not clear. But it has been associated with Germany, Japan, China and Russia and Eastern Europe. The most famous story of origin of Kombucha is that it came from Japan. Hence the name that was derived from Japanese words “kombu” and “cha” meaning tea. But the first recorded usage of Kombucha is in China during the Tsin Dynasty. They called it then as the “Tea of Immortality”.  In the French part of Switzerland, it is called Mo-gu.

How Kombucha tea is made

Kombucha tea is made by mixing tea, sugar, water, kombucha starter tea and kombucha SCOBY. The concoction is left to ferment in a warm and dry place for a few days. When it starts to smell and taste vinegary, it is ready for consumption. Kombucha tea can be enjoyed either plain or with flavor. Flavors usually used as fruits, spices like cinnamon and superfoods like chia seeds.

Kombucha tea is Alcoholic

fizzy kombucha tea
Photo Credit: Allyson Kramer

If you have been reading about Kombucha, you would know that Lindsay Lohan made it (more) famous after she said it’s the reason why her alcohol-monitoring bracelet set-off. Lohan claimed she has been drinking Kombucha, which contains alcohol. Kombucha has alcohol. However, the level of alcohol is small. The level is also different in each home brew. Many factors affect how the yeast turns the sugar to alcohol. The alcohol levels in homebrewed kombucha is usually in between .5% to 3%. Also take note that the longer you leave Kombucha fermenting, the more alcoholic it will become.

Kombucha is Caffeinated

One misconceptions about Kombucha is that its caffeine level reduces by the end of the fermentation cycle. The truth is, caffeine in Kombucha still remains in the same level from day 1 to the end of the brewing period. This is according to Michael Roussin, author of “Analyses of Kombucha Ferments“. If you can’t consume caffeinated drinks, use a decaffeinated tea.

Kombucha contains Sugar

a glass of kombucha
Photo Credit: Flora Foodie

Contrary to claims of other people that Kombucha is sugar-free, Kombucha contains sugar. The yeast in Kombucha doesn’t consume the sugar and make it magically disappear. Michael Roussin, a kombucha lover wrote this after testing 1103 samples of Kombucha from North America, Europe and other parts of the world. Roussin, however said, the sugar content in Kombucha depends on how long you let it ferment. A 3-day brew is going to have more sugar content than a 30-day brew. If you want as little sugar as possible, let your Kombucha ferment longer.

Kombucha cannot cure everything

Many people come to me and ask if Kombucha can help them with their condition. I always say Kombucha can help with our health but I don’t say it can help in curing certain conditions. Because firstly, I am not a medical professional to say so. Secondly, I have not researched and tested thousands of kombucha tea. Lastly, it just isn’t possible. Kombucha cannot cure anything and everything. What Kombucha may do is help in bringing your body back to its balance by influencing your gastrointestinal microbial flora through its antibiotic activity. The Glucuronic acid, which can be found in substantial quantities of Kombucha, aids in detoxification. That is why people with high blood pressure, rheumatism, gout, furuncolosis, and nervousness are recommended to use Kombucha as a therapy (Frank, 1991).

Kombucha is not dangerous and did not cause the death of a woman in Iowa

When people ask me about the safety of Kombucha, they always talk about that Kombucha has not been tested enough for people to claim that it is healthy and safe to consume. They also usually follow it with the death of a woman in Iowa, who brews and drinks Kombucha. Reports about this case say that the severe unexplained illness of two women in Iowa where one of them died, is associated with Kombucha consumption. The two women brew Kombucha at home using cultures that came from the same mother. This led the Iowa Department of Public Health to warn people to stop consuming Kombucha until their evaluation of the case is not yet done. According to Sandor Ellix Katz, they were not able to explain the association of Kombucha drinking to the unexpected death and illness of the two women. Furthermore, 115 other people who consumed Kombucha from the same mother said they never had problems. No toxic and human pathogens were also found when the SCOBY and the kombucha tea consumed by the said women were tested.

These are just some facts about Kombucha. Without a doubt, there is still so much to learn about this fermented beverage. But, I hope that will not stop you from stepping in to the world of kombucha homebrewing. Try it for yourself and let me know how it affected you in any way.

Do you have a question about Kombucha that you’d like to find answer to? Leave it in the comments and I’ll answer it for you.

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How to Flavor Water Kefir?

Water kefir when plain is sweet, light and effervescent. But when you add flavor to it, it becomes way better and could help you in kicking your soda drinking habit. If you want to bring your water kefir to another level, you need to learn how to flavor it.

Flavoring water kefir can be done in two ways. One, by adding the flavor during the first fermentation. Second, by adding the flavor in the second fermentation, just like how you flavor Kombucha. Whichever way you choose doesn’t matter. That’s how easy it is!

tibicos philippines
Photo by: Mountainfeed.com

Flavoring during First Fermentation

Unlike Kombucha, you can flavor water kefir during the first fermentation. To do this, you just need to add whatever flavor you’d like to the brew. You’ll know it’s ready when the concoction becomes fizzy, or after 24 – 48 hours. Once it’s ready, all you have to do is to strain it and separate the grains from the fruits/herbs/veggies you added as flavoring and the brewed water kefir.

Flavoring after first fermentation

If you choose to flavor after first fermentation, just pour the brewed water kefir to your jars or bottles and add in the flavors you like and wait for a few hours or until the flavor has incorporated well to the water kefir.

water kefir

What flavors can I use?

Anything under the sun! Of course, as long as it’s edible. Like Kombucha, you can add any fruit, herb, spice, even veggies you like to flavor your water kefir. My personal favorite flavors are mango and lemon.

To make the Mango water kefir, all I do is just slice some ripe mangoes and add them to the freshly harvested water kefir (meaning, after first fermentation) then let it sit for 4 hours or more and serve it ice cold.

tibicos philippines
Photo by: Ania Fields Photo Art

Here are 10 Ways to Flavor Water Kefir from Cultures for Health.

Do you have other ideas on how to flavor water kefir? Please share them with me.

 

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What are Kefir Grains?

what are water kefir grains

What is Water Kefir?

brewing water kefir

Water Kefir, kephir, or keefir (/kəˈfir/ kə-feer), is a type of fermented beverage that contains different kinds of bacteria and strains of yeast that are considered as probiotics. It is quick and easy to prepare and delicious and beneficial to the gut. It could be slightly alcoholic, depending on how it was prepared. But many people and even children can enjoy drinking it.

water kefir grains
Photo credit: Eat Be Live

Water kefir is a good source of beneficial bacteria, enzymes, organic acids, folic acid, some B Vitamins and Vitamin K. It is also known as tibicos, tibi, bebees, sugar kefir, Australian bees, beer seeds, California bees, balm of Gilead and ale nuts.

Trivia: Kefir was derived from the Turkish word “keyif” meaning feeling good.

What are kefir grains?

water kefir philippines
Water Kefir Grains

Kefir grains are like the SCOBY of Kombucha tea. But it is completely different from Kombucha because of the different bacteria and yeasts that it contain. Kefir grains grow when the bacteria and yeast come together and morph into one or two species because of environmental conditions. These grains are then used in fermenting sugared-water to make a fizzy and healthy drink. Kefir grains are called grains because of its size. They are tiny bits. They are translucent and look like gelatin.

What are kefir grains composed of?

There are a lot of strains of bacteria and yeast that are present in kefir grains. This happens because of the nature of bacteria – they morph into other species to survive.

water kefir philippines

Here are the list of Bacteria and Yeasts found in water kefir:

Acetobacter
a. fabarum
a. orientalis

Bacillus
b. subtilis
b. graveolus

Lactobacillus

l. acidophilus
l. alactosus
l.brevis
l.bulgaricus
l.casei
l.casei ss
l.casei ss. pseudoplantarum
l. casei ss. rhamnosus
l. casei ss. tolerans
l. coryneformis ss. torquens
l. fructosus
l. hilgardii
l. homohiochi
l. hordei
l. nagelii
l. plantarum
l.plantarum
l. pseudoplantarum
l. reuterietc
l. yamanashiensis

Leuconostoc
l. mesenteroides
l. citreum

Pediococcus damnosus

Streptococcus
s. agalactiae
s. bovis
s. cremoris
s. diacetylactis
s. faecalis
s. lactis
s. mutans
s. pneumonia
s. pyogenes
s. salivarius
s. sanguinis
s. suis
s. viridans

Yeasts:

Candida
c. lambica
c. lamica
c. gueretana
c. valida

Hansenula valbyensis

Kloeckera apiculata

Lachancea fermentati

Saccharomyces
s. bayanus
s. boulardii
s. cerevisiae
s. florentinus
s. pretoriensis
s. uvarum

Torulopsis insconspicna

Zygotorulaspora florentina

water kefir
Photo Credit: Nutrition Principles

Is Water Kefir the same as Kombucha?

Definitely no. Kombucha has different strains of yeast and bacteria. Therefore, the nutrients that you will get from water kefir is not the same as what you can get from Kombucha. The ingredients used are also different.

Start making your own water kefir at home. Click here to buy water kefir grains.

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How to Make Kombucha Tea Fizzy?

 

jannah kombucha tea
Jannah drinking her homemade and fizzy kombucha tea

I don’t know about you, but one thing that convinced me to drink Kombucha is its fizzy factor. The fizzy-factor makes me think about a celebration or like opening a bottle of champagne and shouting “woooo!!!”. Also, the fizziness of kombucha tea makes it look like a super refreshing drink that can quench even the thirst of a camel that has been traveling the Sahara desert for months. It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but hearing “ssssssssssss” upon cracking up a bottle of kombucha is really amazing and you wouldn’t experience this if your kombucha is flat. So how do you make a fizzy kombucha tea?

Urban_Plates_Kombucha_on_Tap_r620x349

Photo credit: Chipotle Potato
Photo credit: Chipotle Potato

There are many factors that affect the fizziness of Kombucha. It includes the sugar content and the temperature. To make your kombucha tea fizzy, I’m going to tell you the procedures that I personally do and I can prove to be effective.

  1. Don’t let the water to boil completely. Add the tea when the water is still simmering and don’t stir!
  2. Adding extra sugar during second fermentation
  3. Adding fruit preserves or jams
  4. Adding raisins
  5. Adding chopped ginger
  6. Use good glass bottles that don’t break easily and have caps that are tight.
Mango Kombucha Tea
Mango Kombucha Tea
Blackberry Kombucha tea
Blackberry Kombucha

Do you have other ways to make Kombucha tea fizzy? If so, please share your techniques with me.

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Happy Halloween! Get 50 Pesos Off Kombucha Starter Kits & More

kombucha starter kits sale

This halloween, we’re giving away 50 pesos discount on our Kombucha starter kits and organic Sencha tea! Just use the promo code halloween2015 at checkout. Hurry, promo is until Nov. 2, 2015 only. Click the photo below to get to the shop.

kombucha starter kits sale
kombucha philippines sale