As fall heralds the end of summer heat and the beginning of a new season, it’s a great time to start getting serious about our health and immune system to face the challenges of the colder months ahead. As our digestive tract contains 70% of our immune system, it makes great sense to focus on bringing this aspect of our body to optimal functioning level.
We called on our own Matter maker Hannah Enkel, who has been dealing with her own digestive health issues, to discuss the benefits of Kombucha. In this interview, she lets us in on how she discovered the benefits of Kombucha, how easy it is to make at home, and why she loves the powerful probiotic qualities of this ancient (and somewhat mysterious) drink.
Simply stated, Kombucha is a beverage made from black, green, or white tea, sugar, and fermented with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Originating in Asia, it has been used for thousands of years for its health-enhancing benefits as a digestive aid, detoxifier, and immune-booster. High in amino acids, probiotics and enzymes, Kombucha has gained popularity recently in western culture as people like Hannah are exploring natural treatments outside of conventional medicine to help with digestive issues. Adding Kombucha to our diet is a great way to start getting our gut flora back in balance.
What brought you to making Kombucha?
I was suffering from debilitating stomach issues, and was looking for a solution. I wanted to manage my health without always having to go to the walk-in clinic and coming out with no answers. I also wanted to look into an affordable option to consume probiotic foods as opposed to taking highly priced supplements. My belief is that eating and drinking probiotic foods is so much more effective for overall health.
What are the benefits of Kombucha?
The number one benefit is that it helps clean your gut, and is great for maintaining gut health. People also say that it has helped clear up skin problems like eczema and skin allergies. Generally, as we now know, gut health is linked to overall immune health.
How has it helped you?
It’s really helped me manage my stomach issues. It’s been a long term solution as opposed to a quick fix – I feel I am on a long road to recovery to healing my gut. Slowly but surely I’m getting better.
How often do you drink the tea?
I drink a minimum of a cup a day.
How does a person get started brewing Kombucha at home?
First, you need a starter SCOBY – I got mine from my mom, who got hers from a restaurant in Victoria, B.C – she smuggled it on the plane to Ontario! You can also purchase them online, or make your own – there are many tutorials on the web. Once you have your SCOBY, the process is very easy; essentially it involves tea, sugar, SCOBY, and some patience, but it’s worth the wait.
Hannah’s Kombucha Brew:
What you’ll need:
Black, green, or white tea (unflavoured – very important!)
1/4 cup white sugar (yes, white is best as it’s most easily assimilated by the SCOBY)
Large mason jar (enough to fit 4 cups /quart)
Tightly woven cloth or cheesecloth
Glass bottles with stoppers
- Brew approximately 4 cups of tea and add ¼ cup of white sugar. Bring tea to room temperature.
- Pour into mason jar with your SCOBY. Cover with a tightly woven cloth and secure with a rubber band.
- Place the covered mason jar in a place where it can rest undisturbed, out of direct sunlight, and at room temperature. Start off with a standard fermenting period of 5 – 7 days, after which you can taste your brew to see if it is to your liking. It should taste slightly tart, lightly effervescent and have a tinge of sourness. You can add flavours later.
Second Fermentation (optional)
- Because I enjoy the drink with a bit of effervescence, I usually do a second fermentation. Strain the fermented tea through a cheesecloth and into the glass bottles with stoppers. Save a small amount of the tea in which to store your SCOBY in the fridge for use afterwards.
- At this time I also flavour the tea with an infusion of berries or ginger – you can play with different flavours which are added directly into the bottle. If you prefer a sweetened Kombucha, add honey, stevia or maple syrup to taste. Seal bottles with stoppers.
- Leave out at room temperature to infuse flavour and build effervescence for a few days.
- Refrigerate and enjoy! Tea will keep for up to 2 weeks. The tea will continue to slowly ferment.
Lastly…What do you do with your Scoby?
Your SCOBY continues to grow, and you then need to split it. This you can give away to others and continue to make more tea. Look for tips online about how to store and split your SCOBY properly, and you can keep on making your own Kombucha!
Mint + Peach
Blueberry + Lavender
Lemon + Strawberry
Mango + Ginger
The combinations are endless… be creative and have fun!