The Eco Edit Answers: What is Kombucha? And why do you need it in your life?Lifestyle
When my friend, Caroline Shaheed, started making fruit-infused kombucha out of her kitchen, my interests were instantly piqued. I had been following her amazing yoga adventures in Bali in early 2016, and I knew that anything she was getting into would be super well-done, not to mention, super healthy.
I was pregnant at the time (there are conflicting studies on whether kombucha is good or bad for someone who is pregnant), so I took a few sips of a strawberry-infused batch. If I wasn’t building a human, I would have been hooked. And many of her friends clearly felt the same way. Good Nectar kombucha was born out of word of mouth rumblings and has now become a serious side hustle for Shaheed, who is a writer and marketer by trade that also teaches yoga.
So, naturally I had some questions about this good-for-you-tonic. And here are the answers.
The Eco Edit: What is in kombucha?
Caroline Shaheed: Kombucha is known as the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese. Originating in the Far East around 2,000 years ago, kombucha is a beverage with tremendous health benefits. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is made using a SCOBY…which is a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. The SCOBY is not pretty, but man it is amazing. It basically looks like big, brownish beige jellyfish, and it works wonders. Kombucha is made by brewing very strong and sweet tea. I use equal parts green and black tea, and organic sugar. The SCOBY in effect eats all the sugar, which is how the kombucha ferments and becomes carbonated. As well, because the SCOBY uses the sugar for food, the final kombucha product, depending on how long it is brewed, has very little to no sugar content. Good Nectar typically brews from 8 to 12 days. The length of the brewing process depends on the temperature of where you make it. It is best to keep the brew in a cool, dark or dim place. For home brewing I always kept it in my pantry.
The Eco Edit: What are the benefits of kombucha?
CS: Kombucha is good for so many things! Most of all it promotes good gut health, as it is full of probiotics. But it is also good for:
· Liver detoxification
· Improved pancreas function
· Increased energy
· Better digestion. The greatest reason kombucha supports digestion is because of its high levels of beneficial acid, probiotics and enzymes. Some research has shown kombucha can help to prevent and heal leaky gut and stomach ulcers.
· Improved mood (helps with anxiety/depression)
· Reducing Candida (yeast)
· May be beneficial for weight loss
· It also helps reduce your sweet cravings!
The Eco Edit: How do you infuse flavour into your Kombucha?
CS: There are various ways to infuse flavour into kombucha, personally I cold process organic fruit, ginger, and lemongrass, and then add what I have found to be just the right amount per bottle, then top it with my organic kombucha, cap and seal it and let it do the second ferment for 24 to 36 hours, so the flavours get a chance to set and the kombucha can eat a bit of the natural fruit in the sugars. Then I refrigerate the final product to stop the fermentation. You can also add pieces of fruit and herbs, like mint, basil, and lavender—the possibilities are endless for flavouring kombucha.
The Eco Edit: Why did you start making it yourself?
CS: I started making it myself because I have always liked making things, especially in the kitchen. I love to cook and experiment with food and drink. One day last year I was talking to a friend about how much I loved kombucha, and she told me that she made her own and had an extra SCOBY that I could have. That started me off, the first few batches weren’t great—I was getting flat batches, with very little carbonation. But I kept fiddling and doing research, I switched up the type of bottles I was using, and eventually I got into my groove. It was super rewarding when I got the carbonation right. Now my kombucha is full of natural bubbles. I love it!
The Eco Edit: How long would a batch of Kombucha last if refrigerated?
CS: The thing with kombucha is it’s fermented, which means it doesn’t really expire as long as it’s refrigerated. The refrigeration also stops the fermentation process, so it’s very important to keep your kombucha in the fridge or it will eventually turn to vinegar.