When I first picked up Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (as I mentioned in My Food Journey) I just read through the nutrition information, I didn't really pay much attention to the recipes. Quite frankly, a lot of them looked odd to me, leaving things out on the counter for days to ferment and such. Kombucha was one of those things—this weird drink that you could only make if you had a special "mushroom".
Well, as I also mentioned in My Food Journey, I grew a lot while I was a member of the discussingNT Yahoo Group. A support group really is a great thing! People there were talking about kombucha all the time. One day someone mentioned they were giving away the mushrooms, really called SCOBYs. So, about a year ago, I sent this kind lady some postage and she sent me a starter. I have been making the drink ever since.
I don’t drink soda (maybe once a year at a restaurant), almost never drink coffee, and rarely drink hot tea. I enjoy my raw milk daily, but mostly drink water. Kombucha is a nice alternative drink I can enjoy that is healthy at the same time. To me, the drink tastes appley and tangy. Sometimes it has some carbonation. (You can actually work on increasing the carbonation, but I don’t bother.) Some say it tastes like apple cider vinegar, I would say it is reminiscent, yet not quite so sour. Others say it has a wine taste. You have the ability to make it as sweet or sour as you like, but the longer you let it ferment, the less sugar/carbs it has in it.
What is kombucha? (I say kom BOOK a, but there is debate on the pronunciation.) It is sweetened tea that has been allowed to ferment. This is where it is going to sound weird, we know sugar isn't good for us, BUT the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) feed on the sugar and the caffeine in the tea and produce glucuronic acid. (The end product tastes nothing like sweet tea.) I use a mixture of black tea and green tea to make mine. (Only organic to avoid fluoride and other toxins.) The acid lightens the tannins of the tea, also, so it is a lighter color. Besides the glucuronic acid, Kombucha contains B vitamins, protein, and probiotics.
Your liver normally produces this glucuronic acid to neutralize toxins, but in today's world we are overloaded with toxins so drinking Kombucha can boost our liver’s detox ability. Because this drink is clearing your system of toxins you need to start out with a small amount each day and slowly increase. When I started drinking it I would feel a very slight headache in the forehead and a slight neck ache and aches in my kidney area (it flushes through the kidneys). (I have a theory that it was flushing the lymph system also, since I had neck muscle aches.) These side effects never lasted very long and they weren’t at all severe, just slight. They did last for a couple months, though. I almost thought that maybe the drink wasn't agreeing with me and was about to stop, but then the side effects stopped, the sign that the toxins were gone. Some don’t have any side effects whatsoever, though. Perhaps I was quite toxic!
You can read about the wonders of Kombucha on the Internet or in books. I checked out a couple at my local library. One in particular makes it sound like a cure-all. Perhaps if you are in severely poor health you will find that Kombucha does wonders. For me I wouldn’t say it’s a cure-all, but then, I wasn’t in severely poor health, either. I feel more energy when I drink it (maybe the B vitamins) and I feel it releases a bit of water retention. When I eat carbs I hold water, but the Kombucha seems to balance that out for me. Some believe that by eating certain foods our bodies become too acidic, but others don’t. The people that do go along with this theory tell us that animal protein makes us acidic, but veggies alkalinize us, carbs (like bread, pasta, cereal) make us too acidic, but acidic foods like citrus fruit, vinegar, pickles, sauerkraut, and plain yogurt will alkalinize us. Kombucha fits into this category of foods that are acidic, but in our bodies they bring us back into balance. I don’t know if this theory is right or not, but I do know that I feel better when I drink Kombucha. On a side note, when I watched King Corn I learned that the modern treatment of cattle is very poor—they are kept in small quarters, not allowed to graze on their natural diet of grass, but are fed corn/soy feed. The result is that these cows die early from acidosis. Hmmm—cows eating refined carbs, rather than grass (our version of veggies), and their systems become too acidic? Perhaps the acid/alkaline theory is correct. Whether it is or whether it isn’t, guess what? The foods that keep us in balance are whole foods that aren’t processed! If God created it….
I will add that I believe you can have too much of a good thing. There are some that say there are no limits with Kombucha, there are others that say the limit should be 8 ounces a day. I worked myself up to quite a bit a day, around 20 to 24 ounces. I have been dealing with, what I feel is, a mineral deficiency ever since I gave birth to my 3 year old and I noticed the symptoms return when I was consuming this high amount of Kombucha. I have backed off to an average of 8 ounces a day and am fine. I really hope this won’t scare anyone off. I had these same symptoms if I drank too much water daily, too. I feel that too many years of whole grains (not properly prepared), sugar, and distilled water stripped my system of minerals.
If you would like to learn more about this unusual drink, click on these links.
Gunther Frank – lots of info here
(You don’t have to make quite as large batches as him, though.)
If you would like to try making your own, let me know and I will get you a free starter. (If you’re out of state, I will ask that you cover postage.)
Any questions, just let me know.