What Is Kombucha?

The Kombucha Mushroom or Culture

Kombucha mushroomWhen you are looking at a young kombucha mushroom, it looks like a slightly dirty whitish pancake. A mature kombucha mushroom on the other hand which has had several ‘babies’, will look more tanned and brownish in color.

More often than not, this is because it has been submerged in tea and has taken on a tea coloring.

So in the interest of the novice, or a kombucha virgin (how cute), we will be referring to the more light brown color of a middle of the road kombucha mushroom.

How to Handle a Kombucha Mushroom

The kombucha mushroom is a living thing and should be treated as such. It does not like metals so removing jewelry before handling the mushroom is highly preferable. If you have rings for example that cannot come off, then handle the culture sparingly.

The culture is a mixture of tea and sugar so make sure your hands have been washed and cleaned – it goes without saying but I thought I would just mention it here.

Avoid the Sun and Heat

The kombucha mushroom won’t survive long in very hot weather, direct sunlight or submersion in boiling water. It will just destroy it. Same applies to trying to freeze it – some people have reported success in ‘flash freezing‘ a mushroom but the chances of it dying on you is high.

Growing the Kombucha Mushroom

kombucha moldYour mushroom can survive without being ‘fed’ nutrients for up to several months. It will survive but of course some TLC will be much appreciated.

Once nutrients are supplied, your mushroom will become a happy one and start to function and grow.

A Moldy Kombucha

If you leave your kombucha mushroom in temperatures that are too warm and it is manufacturing too much acid, plus it is going without the proper nutrients, your mushroom will develop mold.

Mold is not to be confused by the bubbly surface you see on your culture. Some researchers or users say using vinegar will get rid of the mold but it is still a debatable issue on whether it harms the culture or not.kombusha mushroom in tea

The bubby surface actually is nothing more than the carbonic acid bubbles, which have been trapped under the Kombucha skin.

When it comes to the Kombucha culture, it’ll be a “floater” after harvesting. In a few days, the formation of yeast umbrella starts to take place beneath the bubbly surface and pull them into the new culture.

 

 

 

 

 

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Kombucha – Fermented Tea For Your Health

You may be amazed to know that a combination of fermenting tea and yeasts would result in a drink that contains alcohol.

The yeasts contributes to alcohol production, but the bacteria culture turns the alcohol into organic acids. Only little quantities of alcohol, normally 1% by volume stays in the Kombucha brew.

 

Kombucha scoby or mushroom

Producing Kombucha Scobies

With every single Kombucha brew you produce, a mushroom like layer (scoby) is formed on the surface of the liquid. You can leave it in the brew to thicken the scoby or it can also be divided into spare cultures, which you can use to produce different flavored Kombucha teas with different types of tea leaves.

You can also increase your popularity with friends by sharing your Kombucha culture and improving their health. After all, mothers used to pass their Kombucha scoby to their daughters when they got married so that good health follows the daughter into her new family.

Health Benefits of Kombucha

Up until now, the health benefits of Kombucha have been proven time and again. In fact, the health benefits of fermented foods and drinks is gaining promenance in the health industry.

Read Dr. Mercola’s Viruses Worldwide Battled by Gut Microbes

It has been proven by several lab tests that Kombucha tea, if fermented and brewed correctly, has antiviral, anti fungal and antibiotic properties that fermented milk items have.

When testing with rats, it has been shown that rats can enhance their liver function and fight stress with Kombucha included in their diet.  When it comes to the benefits for people consuming Kombucha drinks, several benefits have been reported which includes fighting some forms of cancer, enhancing energy levels, alleviating symptoms of allergies, digestive problems, acid flux, lowering hypertension, clearing up candida, helping arthritis, and chronic fatigue.

different types of tea

Types of Tea for Kombucha

It’s almost impossible to complete the fermentation of the Kombucha without tea. It requires real tea, not herbal ones to complete Kombucha fermentation. This is because some herbal or flavored teas may contain oils that will inhibit the natural brewing of Kombucha tea.

It best to stick to good quality plain tea and choose the one that suits your taste. Whether you like a lighter brew of a stronger one, we take a look at the options below:

Black Tea: The leaves of black tea have gone through the full oxidization process which explains its color. The tea leaves are first withered by having air blown on them and then oxidized under controlled temperature and humidity.

The Chinese, Japanese and Koreans sometimes refers to it as ‘red’ tea because of the color of the tea when brewed. It is stronger and has a more robust taste and types of black tea include Lapsang Souchong, Assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling.

Green Tea: Green tea originates from China and goes through a minimal oxidization process. The health benefits of green tea is well documented with its high levels of flavonoids, antioxidant and its anti-carcinogenic properties.

The Japanese are well known for their green tea such as Sencha and Gyokuro and Chinese green tea includes Longjing and Bi Luo Chun.

White Tea: White tea comes from the buds and leaves of the Chinese Camellia sinensis plant – same as black and green tea. The leaves and buds are allowed to wither in natural sunlight before they are lightly processed to prevent oxidation or further tea processing.

High in catechins, it has been found to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and improve cardiovascular functions.

Alternatively, you could use a good quality tea blend for your Kombucha tea.

 

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The Possible Side Effects of Drinking Kombucha

Can Kombucha Tea Be Bad For You?

Side effects can happen with a variety of substances and that includes something as natural and holistic as Kombucha drinks.herbs and teas

A common misconception is that a herbal remedy is always safe in whatever quality it is consumed. Many people with this thought in mind run into difficulty when they disregard, or fail to respect recommendations of use for herbal products.

More Does Not Mean Better

This is true of anything from teas to table salt. Taken in too frequent doses, or large amounts side effects are possible from almost any substance. Kombucha chai has health and medical benefits, but there are warnings on its usage, which should be respected.

Kombucha is different than most herbal teas in that it is fermented. This tea is also unusual from other herbal remedies in that there is scientific data supporting Kombucha tea’s ability to promote health.

Effects Are Different For Each Individual

Most such claims made of holistic medications are based on anecdotal information and accounts of those who use them. There are many unsubstantiated claims made about the negative effects of Kombucha, but the one proven benefit is the tea does have antioxidant and immune influencing abilities.

It can protect the liver and lower the stress level. Benefits attributed to drinking this tea that aren’t proven at this time include preventing cancer, acting as a sleeping aid, and stimulating the re-growth of hair. For this reason, along with it’s boosting of the immune system the tea is very popular with those in middle age or older.

kombucha mold

Brew Properly and In Sanitary Conditions

The way that Kombucha is made is responsible for both its benefit, and possibly some of the tea’s side effects. Brewing takes place when a culture, looking like a large pancake, is placed in sweetened tea since the sugar will assist in the fermentation.

The mixture is allowed to “breath” with a cloth covering. Keeping this culture and mixture safe from contamination is a serious concern as it can easily develop mold.

Aside from the risk of mold, there are relative few reports of side effects or toxicity when drinking Kombucha tea. There is a possibility of harm to liver, especially for those who drink the tea on a daily basis. The tea has also been linked to myositis, which is an inflammation of the muscles. Myositis is usually seen during an infection of some type or the use of lipid lowering drugs.

Lactic Acidosis

There are also some reports that drinking as little as 4 ounces of Kombucha on a daily basis can cause lactic acidosis which is demonstrated by so low a pH in the body tissues and blood that a buildup of lactate occurs. This type of illness is usually seen when cells receive too little oxygen. In some circumstances, this can be fatal.

Kombucha was first used in Russia where it is known as ‘tea kvass’ in the late 19th century. The drink later became popular in China and Japan, where it is referred to as kocha kinoko. As the herbal drink is called Kombucha in America and the U.K. it is often mistaken for the Japanese tea kombucha, a different drink that is made from dried or powdered kelp.

Start With A Small Amount

If you are uninitiated with drinking Kombucha beverages, go slowly at first and drink small amounts to see how your body reacts to minimize any side effects; and when your body starts getting accustomed to the benefits of Kombucha, you can start increasing your consumption.

 

 

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