It all started with my good friend Sarah messaging me in early October 2017, “Tash!! Will you please come!!!!” She was overflowing with excitement for me to join her at a Kombucha workshop later that month, run by Karen Stoyles, a local Registered Holistic Nutritionist. At the time, I really did not know much about the benefits of fermented foods and to be honest, the thought of it just kind of grossed me out. I remember when I started seeing Kombucha at local coffee shops, I didn’t understand what all the hype was about, besides, I didn’t like Iced Tea, so I doubted I would like this. Well, Sarah does not give up easily, so a couple weeks later she was at it again, “you’d looovveee it!!!!” I still wasn’t convinced, but she followed it up with, “Brewing kombucha is so you!!” I thought, maybe she is right, why not, it can’t hurt to learn a bit more about this Kombucha thing. So, I registered for the workshop, I got passed the gross looking SCOBY and am I ever glad I did!
Fast forward a few months and now preparing the next batch of Kombucha every Sunday is part of my weekly routine. I look forward to trying out a new flavour for the second fermentation process, experimenting with new Green or Black Teas, and sharing stories like the one where I accidentally left a bottle of lemon ginger flavoured Kombucha ferment for too long and so much carbonation had built up that almost the entire bottle sprayed out uncontrollably all over the kitchen. Oops!
So what is this Kombucha stuff anyway? Well, it is an ancient beverage that has been consumed for over 2000 years. It is not anything new, just more popular. You make it from green or black tea, sugar (I like to use organic cane sugar or coconut sugar), and a Symbiotic Culture of Acetic Acid Bacteria Yeast, otherwise known as a SCOBY. Yup, this is the really gross looking thing that grows on the top of this mysterious drink. During the fermentation process, the organic compounds of the tea turn into vinegar and other acidic compounds. It is these new compounds that provide the health benefits Kombucha enthusiasts rave about.
What are these health benefits? Why drink Kombucha at all? A brief google search has not provided me with very much scientific evidence behind the health claims of Kombucha, or at least, I was unable to find any studies based on kombucha and humans, but rather just with animals. That being said, there are some health benefits we can’t ignore. These would include the benefits you would get from any fermented food. GUT HEALTH!. Fermented foods are filled with healthy bacteria that colonize our gut which can apparently improve a variety of bodily functions, including level out moods and stress levels, and perhaps even help with weight and cravings for food. I have definitely seen significant changes in all of these areas within my home since starting to brew my own kombucha. Can I guarantee that Kombucha was the only factor in these improvements, nope, but I feel strongly that it definitely played its part.
The following are a list of potential health benefits of Kombucha I’ve found are consistent with multiple online articles. The potential for any or all of these benefits to be true are reason enough to give it a try or to keep on drinking it, just in case it really is doing all these things for our health.
- detoxifying the blood
- improve digestion: a combination of organic acids, enzymes, and probiotics promote healthy digestion and soothe upset stomachs (I find this one to be true, especially when flavoured with lemon and ginger)
- immune system stimulation
- arthritis prevention: the compound glucosamine is found in Kombucha which protects cartilage
- cancer prevention
- reduce cholesterol levels
- reduce blood pressure
- protect against diabetes
- antibacterial effects
- energy enhancement: small amounts of caffeine from the tea along with vitamin B and iron.
- weight loss: similar to the claims made of apple cider vinegar, kombucha is believed to increase metabolism when consumed before meals.
- enhanced athletic performance: raises energy levels during exercise, aides in post-workout recovery, alleviates joint pain.
- mood enhancement: B Vitamins can help battle depression, stabilize mood, enhance concentration. The vitamin C can inhibit the release of stress hormone cortisol.
So, why do I make a new batch of Kombucha every Sunday? Why do I continue to drink it regularly? If for no other reason, than it is tasty, refreshing, fun to make and experiment with, and essentially it is a fizzy drink I make myself. It can’t get better than that!