Kombucha is a fermented drink that has been used for thousands of years in China, Japan, and Russia.
Its properties and benefits have aroused interest in the scientific community. In particular, its effect as a probiotic.
Kombucha is made by fermenting black or green tea using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, also called SCOBY.
You can buy Kombucha in stores or make it yourself at home. However, make sure always to prepare it properly. Contaminated or over-fermented Kombucha can cause severe health damage, even death.
This article shows its properties, benefits, contraindications, and how to make Kombucha correctly at home.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha, also known as Manchurian mushroom or Chinese mushroom, is a fermented drink obtained from sweetened and fermented tea thanks to a colony of microorganisms. (4)
The classic base for its preparation is the combination of black or green tea with SCOBY. The meaning of the acronym is Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast.
Acetic acid (which is also found in vinegar) and other acidic compounds are produced in the fermentation process. Just as a large number of bacteria also grow in the mix. (1)
The main health benefit of Kombucha is its contribution to probiotics. That is, it is the Kombucha contains beneficial microorganisms for the intestinal system.
Rosmarinic acid is the main compound in Kombucha that probably provides the beverage’s biological activity. This antioxidant is credited with the favorable health properties of Kombucha. (5)
Although there is no evidence yet of the specific probiotic benefits of Kombucha, it is known to contain several species of lactic acid bacteria. These microorganisms may improve gut health, kill pathogenic bacteria, and reduce inflammation. (2)
The most promising benefit of Kombucha is preventing the growth and spread of cancer cells. This could be due to its high concentration of polyphenols and antioxidants in tea.
Polyphenols are believed to block gene mutation and the growth of cancer cells. For this reason, it is not surprising that tea drinkers are less likely to develop certain types of cancer. (6)
However, more studies are needed to confirm whether Kombucha has any anticancer effects on people.
Although Kombucha is a drink that may have potential health benefits, there is insufficient scientific evidence for it to be recommended as a treatment to cure diseases.
The benefits of Kombucha are:
- Improve the digestion process
- May improve the quality of skin and hair (for external use)
- Has antibacterial effect
- Reduce inflammation
- Other uses of Kombucha
There are several contraindications and side effects associated with improper Kombucha cultivation.
When preparing Kombucha at home, there is the possibility of contamination with pathogenic bacteria and yeasts. In addition, as traditionally, the cultivation of Kombucha is passed from one house to another, the risk of contamination is more significant. (4)
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the United States 1996 warned that fermented tea could be contaminated with microorganisms and Aspergillus species that could cause side effects in immunosuppressed people.
This potential danger can be avoided by conducting fermentation under sterile conditions.
In addition, drinking kombucha tea can cause gastrointestinal disorders due to the high acidity of the fermented drink, which reaches 2.5 pH.
The safest option is to buy Kombucha in a store or online. Commercial products are practically alcohol-free, as they must contain less than 0.5% alcohol. However, check the ingredients and avoid high-in added sugar brands.
Kombucha is not recommended for pregnant women, as well as for people with weakened immune systems. In addition, this tea is highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel.
Consuming contaminated Kombucha can cause poisoning and even death. Therefore, it is essential to prepare the drink in a clean container, not insert spatulas or spoons every time it is taken, or leave the bottle exposed to the open air.
How to make Kombucha at home?
To grow Kombucha at home, you need a colony of bacteria (you can buy it in specialized stores), sugar, tea, and a glass or stainless steel container. Instead of sugar, you can also add honey or fructose. Here’s how to make kombucha step by step:
- Prepare a wide-necked container. Its volume must be at least three liters. Otherwise, the fungus will grow hard.
- Boil a liter of water, and add them to the container with two teaspoons of tea leaves
- Add 5-6 tablespoons of sugar and cover the container with a napkin or cheesecloth.
- Once the temperature has dropped to about 40 degrees (wait at room temperature if you cannot measure it).
- Cover the container and place it in a warm, dark place for four days. After this, the liquid must be replaced by another liter of cooled, previously boiled water.
- At this point, you should see that the colony grew. After a week, you already have Kombucha ready.
- If, after two weeks, the fungus does not begin to grow but has gone to the bottom and is covered with spots, it has died.
- The water should be changed every week in summer and every other week in winter.
- We remember that making Kombucha at home in poor hygiene conditions can be dangerous for your health. Please do not share the Kombucha unless you are sure it has been prepared correctly. In these cases, it is safer to buy it.
Kombucha is a fermented tea made from a colony of fungi and bacteria. Its health benefits are still unclear. Studies associate possible effects as a probiotic or anticancer. However, there is insufficient evidence to use kombucha tea as a medicinal treatment.
Preparing Kombucha at home is possible, but you must take special care. By allowing the conditions for the colony of beneficial bacteria (SCOBY) to grow, other microorganisms harmful to health can also develop. Purchased brands pasteurize the liquid and avoid this potential risk.