Today we will discover what exactly is Kombucha, where it’s from, and exactly what the heck is in this stuff once fully prepared.
HOW DID THIS WONDERFUL UGLY LOOKING THING COME TO BE?
Story Time – An old country doctor from the Alexandrov district near Moscow noticed his peasant patients had no cancer. The doctor, wondering about this, started looking around… and discovered this: to save money on tea the muzhiks of that locality brewed not tea, but chaga, otherwise known as the birch-tree mushroom. Actually, it’s not even a birch-tree mushroom, but a birch-tree cancer – a sort of ugly growth on old birch trees. It is dome-shaped, black on the outside and dark brown inside. It occurred to doctor Maslennikov that this tea made from the birch tree mushroom could be the magic remedy the Russian peasants, without realizing it, had been using to cure themselves of cancer for hundreds of years.
“So it started in Russia, great let’s move on”… well not so fast!
Often it is said, that the Kombucha fungus had already been used 2000 years ago in China. It is also said to have existed for a long time in Japan and Korea. Particularly in China, it was the Grandmother who kept a jar of it on hand at all times and was responsible for the preparation of the tea. When a daughter in the family got married and moved out to live with her husband (remember there were nucleus families back then when everyone lived together until they got married, and even then they might have continued to live together – side note: don’t tell my mom about that or she’ll expect the same of me!)- The Kombucha culture was passed down to the grand daughter to provide health and longevity to her family. Sort of like a family heirloom. Can you imagine getting that instead of a diamond ring!?!
SO WHAT THE HECK IS IN THIS STUFF ANYWAY?
Below is a complete breakdown of what is found in Kombucha tea along with the associated beneficial function of that ingredient. Remember, this is the finished product of the kombucha tea that has been fermented with a kombucha culture for about 10 days, and not just the kombucha culture itself. This is a truer representation, as usually it is the kombucha tea that is consumed by the individual and not the SCOBY (though some do ingest the SCOBY, it is rare and requires a special technique).
LACTIC ACID: Found in Kombucha in its most potent form L-lactic(+). Lactic acid is essential for the digestive system.
ACETIC ACID: Its main function is to inhibit harmful bacteria. Acetic acid is used as a preservative because of this action. It is also what gives Kombucha that ‘kick’ to its smell and taste.
MALIC ACID: Is also used in the body’s detoxification process.
OXALIC ACID: Encourages the cellular production of energy and is a natural preservative.
GLUCONIC ACID: Is effective against many yeast infections such as candidiasis and thrush.
BUTYRIC ACID: Is produced by the yeasts and when working with gluconic acid. Might help combat yeast infections such as candida.
NUCLEIC ACID: Work with the body aiding healthy cell regeneration.
AMINO ACID: A group of acids which are the building blocks of protein. Your muscular system is made of proteins.
ENZYMES: Are proteins that act as catalysts, speeding the rate at which biochemical reactions proceed.
Kombucha also contains Vitamin Groups B and C, Beneficial Yeasts and LIVING Bacteria.
HOW MUCH CAFFEINE DOES KOMBUCHA HAVE?
Since Kombucha is traditionally prepared with tea leaves, which contain caffeine, it is easy to think that kombucha itself has caffeine in it. Right? Well, yes, BUT the amount is way less than the caffeine that was found in the tea before it was fermented. That’s because the caffeine gets “converted”, (just like the sugar but through a different process) into many of the different elements that we just discussed above. A good rule of thumb is caffeine is cut by 1/2 the amount once fully fermented. So if an 8oz cup of black tea started out with 40mg of caffeine (about 1/3 of a cup of coffee), if you took that same black tea and used it to prepare kombucha tea, the caffeine would yield 20mg (about 2 sips of coffee)
CAN I GET DRUNK ON KOMBUCHA?
If by drunk you mean a high consumption of alcohol, than NO. Kombucha tea does contain a trace amount of alcohol, usually .5% to 1%. That means that drinking an entire gallon of kombucha is the equivalent of drinking a half can of beer. To put it another way, kombucha tea has the same amount of alcohol as a fermented piece of fruit (leave an orange out in the sun for a day).
Though this small amount of alcohol will not get you intoxicated, it is a wonderfull attribute to the tea, as it achieves many beneficial results. Besides aiding in circulation in our bodies and, helping with our lymphatic system alcohol works as a preservative allowing your tea to brew and ferment continuously, without requiring refrigeration so long as the kombucha culture is in contact with it and the brewing container has a breathable cloth on top. In fact, this is one of the great benefits we took to create the concept of the continuous brewing system.