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Kombucha - The “Mother” of All Teas

Posted by Administrator on 7/19/2013 to Teas
Kombucha - The Mother of All Teas - an article by If you think Kombucha sounds like a TaeKwonDo maneuver or a warm shawl for cool evenings in Moscow, you would definitely get points for creativity, but you'd be wrong. Kombucha — pronounced “kom-boo-sha” — is a sweetened tea fermented with the Kombucha “mushroom,” a symbiotic colony of various yeasts and bacteria, that has its roots in the Qin Dynasty in China in 250 B.C., where it was called the "Immortal Health Elixir" because of its reputed healing properties.

Kombucha can be made at home. After regular tea — black is recommended — is brewed, it is sweetened and combined with a fermenting agent. The microorganism colony used for fermentation is called, variously, a “white pancake,” a “starter,” a “mother,” and perhaps most accurately, “scoby,” which stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts.” (Technically, that makes it a fungus rather than a mushroom.) Although the “starter” can be purchased online, some health care professionals recommend obtaining it locally from a reputable source — a Kombucha-brewing friend or someone else you trust.

Some drink Kombucha Tea for its taste, described as similar to sparkling apple cider, while others drink it for its health benefits, which are widely believed to include weight loss, liver detoxification, increased energy, reduced stress, improved libido, and a healthier digestive tract. No studies have been undertaken to prove or disprove the existence of medicinal powers; the evidence is mainly anecdotal. But Kombucha has a rich history in Eastern Europe, Russia, the Ukraine, and China of being used as a powerful medicinal beverage.

To be absolutely safe, Kombucha must be made under sterile conditions. Only sterilized glass containers should be used, and hands and kitchen implements must be kept clean and free from germs and household bacteria. The mixture's pH should be monitored to ensure it is within the safe range, so that it is neither too vinegary nor too weak to control bacteria. Kombucha can "go bad" fairly easily due to contamination from organisms introduced by unsanitary utensils or containers or from exposing the culture to the open air. Mold can form on the mixture and, if ingested, may result in serious illness or death. There are reports of people who have become seriously and mysteriously and, on some occasions, fatally ill who exhibited similar symptoms, with their only link being that all were Kombucha users. A Kombucha brew that shows evidence of mold must be destroyed.

During the fermentation process, which takes place over a week or two or even longer, a "baby scoby" forms, which can be used for the next batch or given to others so they can produce their own Kombucha. Made properly, Kombucha is a refreshing, lightly carbonated beverage that contains trace amounts of alcohol and varying levels of vinegar, which itself is believed by many more than just Kombucha aficionados to have therapeutic effects. The end product is low-calorie, due to the chemical conversion of the added sugar to other potentially beneficial substances during the fermentation process. The longer the tea ferments, the less sweet and more vinegary it becomes.

Celebrities, for example Kirsten Dunst, Madonna, Meg Ryan, and Matthew McConaughey have discovered Kombucha and widely promote it as an alternative health remedy. However, health care professionals suggest that anyone with diabetes, a compromised immune system or who is pregnant or nursing talk to their doctor before drinking the tea, and warn against giving it to children.

Kombucha Tea has been brewed for its health benefits since 250 B.C. It's easy to make as long as a few precautions are taken, and tastes like lightly carbonated fruity cider. Many celebrities have jumped on the Kombucha bandwagon. If you are a healthy adult and you trust the source of your Kombucha tea, it might be worth a try.

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