In my September Goals, I purposed to write a few posts on this lovely drink called Kombucha. Yesterday‘s post covered the basics of Kombucha and how it helps one to have a healthy immune system.

Today, my friend Jo Smith, from Strathdon, Scotland, has offered some more interesting information regarding this drink that might convince you it is worth a shot. We will finish off the series with instructions for how to make kombucha. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment, and she/I will do our best to answer your questions.

Part Two:

The Kombucha Tea Culture has been used for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years in different parts of the world.  This in itself lends testimony to the fact the Tea has long been beneficial to many for a variety of physical ailments.  The Russians, Germans, Swedes and others have compiled information on the benefits of the Kombucha Tea for nearly one hundred years.  In the authoritative book “Kombucha, Healthy Beverage and Natural Remedy from the Far East,” Gunther Frank lists many references from Russian and German doctors who have seen a variety of benefits to their patients, and it is known that Kombucha enjoyed wide popularity in these areas until World War II when tea and sugar, the nutrients the Kombucha culture thrives on, became scarce.

Although commonly called Kombucha (or sometimes Manchurian) Mushroom tea, this can be misleading since kombucha bears no relation at all to mushrooms. To be more accurate – it is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast  (thus the tendency of some people to refer to the ‘pancake’ as a SCOBY).  It propagates itself during the fermentation process yielding another culture, often referred to as a “baby.”   The culture is a jelly-like mass, looking somewhat like a pancake or sponge. When placed in the appropriate substrate – tea and sugar –  the yeasts in the Kombucha culture feed on the nutrients and rapidly multiply to produce alcohol.   The rich environment created by the yeasts allows the bacteria to convert the alcohol into acetic acid, which is vinegar.   The bacterium Acetobacter aceti subspecies xylinym, along with other organisms associated with production of vinegar, has been identified in Kombucha.   It is interesting to note that humans have used vinegar for thousands of years. In his book “Kombucha, the Essential Guide,” Christopher Hobbs states “Vinegar was mentioned in the writings of the Assyrians, Greeks and Romans as an important medicine in its own right.”   Because the Kombucha culture is a living organism exposed to all kinds of influences, the finished beverage doesn’t always have the same composition and taste.  The Russian research scientist Danielova stated in 1954 “… that the actual composition of the symbiont varies according to geographical and climatic conditions, and depends on whatever types of wild yeasts and bacteria exist locally.”  Variances may occur in each batch of Kombucha and may become more obvious during seasonal temperature changes.

The tea is made by placing the Kombucha culture in a solution of tea & sugar. Black tea and white sugar are the best nutrients. Within 6-15 days, biological and chemical metabolic processes take place producing a small amount of alcohol, carbon dioxide, vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, plus acetic acid, glucuronic acid, gluconic acid, oxalic acid, usnic acid, heparin, dextrogyral (L-Lactic Acid+) plus enzymes and minerals. The end product contains a very small amount of alcohol, (less than 0.5%), which is as much alcohol present in “alcohol-free” beer and many beverages including apple juice. By law, a beverage can contain up to 0.5% alcohol and still be labeled “non-alcoholic.” Most beer contains approximately 3% – 8% alcohol. The end product also contains a small amount of sugar which is not converted. The longer the drink ferments, less sugar and more alcohol will be present. It will turn to kombucha vinegar if allowed to ferment too long.

Let’s talk about a few important constituents of the Kombucha Tea.  Glucuronic acid has reportedly been found in the Tea, and is also produced in a healthy liver. It has an extraordinarily important detoxifying function that binds toxins so they cannot be re absorbed by the intestines or the urinary system. One must think about how important it is to detoxify our body, especially in this day and age when excessive toxins are found everywhere – in the soil where we grow our food, in the air we breathe, in the water we drink and the food we eat. Usnic acid has a strong antibacterial effect. It has been reported to contribute to the inactivation of viruses. Dextrogyral (L-Lactic Acid +) has been reported to be lacking in the connective tissue of cancer patients. Gunther Frank states “So long as it (L-Lactic Acid+) is predominantly present in tissue, cancer cannot develop. It is interesting to note here that a pH value of 7.56 is exceeded in cancer patients. Organisms that are free from cancer (and also pre cancers) show pH values of under 7.5. Serological tests of the blood in the veins have shown that the Kombucha beverage shifts the pH value noticeably towards the acid side. “To a certain extent the Kombucha Tea preserves itself.  The acetic acid and lactic acid it produces repress any micro-organisms that do not belong to the Kombucha culture. The yeasts in the Kombucha culture produce carbon dioxide as well as a small amount of alcohol.  Carbon dioxide is a gas with anti microbial properties and alcohol is a universally known preservative.

Kombucha is not a magical, miracle elixir. It would be impractical to lead a life of excess and then drink a bit of Kombucha Tea to try to even things out. Through the stimulation of the individual immune system, Kombucha offers many people the physical resistance they need to maintain and restore health.

Thanks for reading, check back in for more information!