Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kombucha; Green tea plus!

This is the stuff that got me into fermenting. Our basic diet is and has been for 5 years, the Blood Type Diet by Dr. Peter J. Dadamo. On the food list for O type Gatherers was this beverage called Kombucha. I went to HFS local to us, Good Earth, and asked. They showed me a commercial brand of Kombucha with many different colors and flavors. I liked it very much. I researched Kombucha and found that it contains these beneficial bio-acids, enzymes, vitamins and live probiotics and it is a high ph product. I was excited. I also found out that you could do it, ferment it yourself and save money. At the time, my immune system was not functioning well as I had come out of a bad winter with flu, then pneumonia and antibiotics which kill off the bad microbes and the good ones too. I was looking for anything that could boost my immune system without taking the probiotic supplements or the commercial yogurts. Kombucha seemed to me a natural remedy. It wasn't until summer of '08 when a cousin of my husband's gave me a Kombucha start, that I considered doing it myself. She showed me how easy it was and I decided to give it a try. I've been brewing and fermenting ever since.

I have 3 glass jars that I rotate which produces between the 3 of them, more than a gallon and a half of Kombucha, which is too much for me to consume. I keep trying to get my husband to drink more but he doesn't so I give quarts away to my friends....those brave enough to try it and find it useful. I also like to give away starters to anyone interested. Kombucha has a long history going back to the ancient Chinese and Russians and is known by other names. There are many websites that have lots of information, processes and that sell starter kits. I have looked at a few and have learned so much. My procedure and process is pretty basic but it works well for me and my home. What you will need....

1.Large glass jar that can hold 3 liters to a gallon. My recipe is based on one that large. If using smaller glass containers, reduce the ingredients.

2.Green tea bags, 5 for my jar. I use decaf green tea as this complies with my religion's standard against drinking coffee and tea a bit better than the caffinated tea.

3. Starter; a piece of the "mushroom" and some Kombucha with live microbes about 1/4 cup or more. ( The mushroom is a gelatinous material the microbes make when they are alive and happy which grows at the top of the liquid in your jar. It will grow to fit the size of the jar. It protects their environment and keeps the bad microbes out.)

4. Sugar, about 3/4 cup for about a gallon of tea. I use white sugar. It was in my food storage just sitting there taking up space and I did not use it for anything we eat so I was happy to feed it to them. It makes them happy and they grow and produce wonderful, healthy things with it.

5. Paper cover to write the date on and elastic band to keep it in place at the top of the jar. I use those paper coffee filters.

6. Warm place out of direct sunlight and away from moldy food contamination. In the winter I use an old heating pad on low to set my bottles on and I wrap them with towels to insulate. In summer I do the same if air conditioning is on. 75 to 90 degrees is ideal for them.

7. A fine mesh stainer, stainless steel is Ok.

8. Glass jars to put Kombucha in.

9. Water; it has to be pure and chlorine free. Chlorine kills pathogens and also kills lacto-bacillius and other friendly microbes. A couple of ways to get chlorine out: 1. let water sit for 24 hours, covered with only a clean cloth or 2. boil it and let it sit and cool for about an hour.

We use water that has been treated with "Precious Prills" ( magnesium crystals) which raise the ph of the water, gets the chlorine out and restructures the water to it's best hexagonal form for "wetter water". http://www.life-enthusiast.com/ Did I say that this is a high ph tonic? Yes, and you know that anything with a ph of 8 or higher is really, really good for you. Good, friendly microbes like lacto-bacillus have to have an alkaline environment like our body cells. The bad guys thrive in acidic conditions as does cancer. Keep your water higher than 7, fruits and veggies are alkaline also, and we need to eat them in abundance because they balance the acidic foods; dairy, meat, legumes, sugar and grain. Kombucha will help your system alkaline.
Process: Make/brew tea. You don't have to boil all the water that fits your container, just a portion of it. Place tea bags, free of those strings and labels, in boiling water, cover and let sit for an hour or more. I have been playing with green tea that has fruity flavors and it is a nice change. I keep the ratio 1: 3. One bag fun, fruity flavor and 3 bags regular decaf green tea. When tea has steeped and is cool, gather up the bags and squeeze dry and throw away. Add sugar and stir. Pour into jar and add more pure water and then add the starter with piece of mushroom or "scooby", as it is affectionately called.

Paper cover the jar and secure with elastic. Before you do this, write the date and amount of sugar and number of tea bags so you will know for the next batch. Set in your warm, out-of-the-way place and let it ferment. You should notice bubbles and the mushroom at the top start to form. After a few days there will be some "floaties" in the solution and that's OK. You might notice some "brown stuff" hanging down from the mushroom and that's normal too.

After about 7-9 days, taste the Kombucha pushing the mushroom aside using a straw or spoon. If it is still sweet to taste, it hasn't fermented long enough and if it is really sweet with no mushroom formed, then the microbes are dead. However if you don't mind consuming sugar, you can "decant". I find that 11-12 days is just right for me. It tastes zippy and not sweet. If you let it go longer, it will start to taste "vinegary". There is a small amount of alcohol produced in this fermentation like .2%. If you are familiar with wine it can run from 11-12 % alcohol. Beer and ale runs 5-7 % so .2% is minuscule. For this reason I do not ferment fruits; too much sugar and the bacteria produce more alcohol than lactic acid.

Decanting; This is fun. I love to "fork out" the mushroom and place it on a clean plate. It really is a miracle how it is formed. You can eat the mushroom; it has a rubbery texture and not much taste. Use a large bowl with a strainer that fits it and pour Kombucha through the strainer. It catches some of the "floaties".

Fill other clean jars and put in fridge. Separate the mushroom and keep the newer one that grew on top of the starter piece. Keep about 1/3 cup of the Kombucha at the bottom to start another batch. The mushroom or "scooby" can be cut to shape with knife or scissors and the rest throw away. If you want to keep mushrooms, they keep well in a zip lock bag with a little Kombucha liquid. Putting Kombucha in the fridge will slow down the microbes but they will still keep working and you may see in a few days more "floaties" as they prepare to make another mushroom.

I drink about 4-6 ounces a day and I put 2 ounces in my 20 ounce water bottles. My husband when he does consume Kombucha will put it in his pineapple juice in the morning. You can drink it strait or dilute it with water or juice.

In the 2 years I have been making my own Kombucha, I have not been really sick. I have not had the flu or severe colds or sinus infections that have plagued me for many years and I am still teaching public school 9 months of the year around sick kids. I do not use drugs or vacines. I could be wrong, but I believe this tonic has had a powerful effect on my immune system. Others in my neighborhood whom I have given this tonic to, say they feel a boost in energy. One man is recovering his health, devestated by various parasites, viruses and bacteria by using Kombucha and other natural protocols.
Making Kombuch is a fun hobby with healthy benefits. You can get a start from me if you live in the Utah County area and attend one of my fermenting seminars held at Real Foods Market on 800 North, Orem west of State Street. I am scheduled for 2 seminars this fall. Sept. 11 at 1 pm and Nov. 13 1 pm. Or... order online at any one of a number of websites that do this.

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