Although it is snowing, almost mid-April, in MN ... I am starting my spring Kombucha brew! I bought hibiscus tea, waited out the first ferment, added mango and am awaiting the springtime/summer concoction reminding me of papaya juice. Many of you may not know but I brew Kombucha on a regular basis and alternate the flavors with the season. Not only is brewing Kombucha a fun science experiment but it is a healthy alternative to many beverages with many health benefits.
I discovered Kombucha is most known for it's positive effects on digestion. Kombucha is made using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) and tea. It is loaded with good bacteria/probiotics needed for a healthy colon, which in return stimulates our immune system. The digestion benefits can be magnified based on what ingredients are used during the fermentation process. Vitamin C, which Kombucha contains, is known to improve immune function as well as fending off inflammatory diseases and cell damage. Kombucha is also good for mood and increased energy because it is packed with B vitamins. Think of the well known "5 hour energy" drink, they are made up of B vitamins. Our bodies were designed to function within a narrow pH range. Due to the American diet, toxins, pollution, etc most of us have an acidic body and disease grows in an acidic environment. Kombucha balances our pH which also helps with our cravings. This benefit has a cascading effect because cravings for sugar, alcohol, etc are minimized leading to a healthier alkaline body. I was pleasantly surprised to discover Kombucha has glucosamine which enhances hyaluronic acid production and this helps to protect cartilage and reduces arthritic pain. Kombucha is also known to help with weight loss, lower cholesterol, cancer prevention, and is a wonderful aid in the detoxification process as well as many other healthy perks.
Not only is this elixir amazing for our overall health, but there is much joy in the anticipation of how each brew will turn out as you explore different flavor combinations. I have two standby's (produced year round); honey/ginger and Mango. I've experimented a lot with flavoring depending on the season. A few of my favorites are mango/clove, fall blend (apple/cinnamon), winter blend (cranberry, orange peel, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice), toxic ninja (ginger root, apple, 100% real maple syrup, lemon, and cayenne). I got this name and recipe from a Yoga studio near me, you can check it out at http://www.pressedmn.com/juice-menu/. And my personal favorite that I await all winter for is hibiscus tea and mango!
Kombucha is a healthy alternative to alcohol and/or pop. The fermentaion process makes it carbonated so you'll get the "fix" of sipping on a beer or pop but when it fermented naturally, and not force carbonated, the carbonation is slight which also mimics champagne. Grab a bottle next time you'd grab a pop or a beer, bring some with to a neighborhood event. Make Kombucha part of your day everyday!