Thursday, November 5, 2009

What is Kombucha and Does it Bite?

Searching for something that can help energize and rejuvenate you? You cannot come any closer to finding it than in Kombucha (ice) Tea.
It's potent, it's delicious, it improves health, and you can make it yourself!
This tea has been made for over 2000 years so it goes to show you that "everything old is new again!"
It is made using an extraordinary "mushroom" that is placed into a batch of regular sugary tea.

Quick note: A Kombucha mushroom is not a real mushroom, people only call it a mushroom. It is something like a lichen and when grown it looks like a pancake floating on the surface of the tea that it is brewed in. The remarkable tea made from it does not have the flavor of mushrooms. The taste is more like a wine apple-cider and it is delicious.
The tea then begins to ferment and in about 7 days it is ready to drink. During that same 7 day period a second mushroom grows within the tea, this new mushroom is used to make your next batch of tea. Each time you make a batch of tea a new mushroom is produced. Because of this quick reproductive cycle of the Kombucha you can make an endless supply of this incredible tea for free.

Information source:

A good HOW TO article here.

FAQs from

What is a Kombucha Mushroom?
The Kombucha Mushroom is not a true mushroom but a tea pseudo lichen. It is primarily a fibrous cellulose spongy membrane that is formed by the various Kombucha bacteria and yeast cells that live in the liquid sugary tea. It is primarily grown to act as an evaporation cap to keep the tea from evaporating and also to prevent other microorganisms from getting to the sugary tea. It has no sex, and produces no seeds or spores for the purpose of reproduction but within the cells of the membrane exists the same bacteria and yeasts cells that exist within the tea. When your transfer a newly formed mushroom to a new batch of tea you then introduce these bacteria and yeasts to the new tea which quickly colonize it, cause the tea to ferment, and grow a new membrane on the surface.
Can drinking this tea harm me in any way?

Kombucha tea is safe to drink. The Federal Drug Administration has indicated it is safe provided it is prepared properly. It must be prepared in a clean manner just as any food or beverage you are planning to consume. But like any food, it is possible that the tea can become spoiled. If you drink spoiled tea it might make you ill. But the risk of this happening is no greater than for any other food or beverage. A lot of people pose the safety question about Kombucha because they mistakenly believe it to be a mushroom and they are aware that some mushrooms are poisonous. Kombucha is not a mushroom it is just a cellulose mat.

Is there any relationship between the quality of the tea and the growth size of the new mushroom?
No, not really. Once the tea ferments the size of the mushroom makes no difference. You end the fermentation when you "strain off the tea".

The fermentation of the tea is caused by the living bacteria and yeasts within the tea. The bacteria and yeast is what is responsible for the health benefits of drinking the tea.

Can I eat this mushroom?
Mushrooms can be eaten but not many do so as it is fiberous and may be hard to digest. Also, the only flavor that it has is from the type of liquid tea it which it is grown in. When dried it takes on the appearance of a slippery rubbery leather... chew toy for your dog?
I have heard that if I drink the tea a mushroom will grow in my stomach and kill me, is this true?
Absolutely not!

How soon can I expect to start seeing health benefits from drinking the tea?

Many notice a difference in their health quickly.

What recipe do you recommend to make Kombucha Tea?

Using clean unchlorinated water, not distilled water which lacks mineral content, make a gallon of tea using 8 standard size tea bags of green tea or orange pekoe/black tea.

Add 1 to 1.5 cups of white cane sugar. If you boil the water let it cool to room temperature and add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar is used to lower the pH level of the tea to help the fermentation process and protect against mold formation.

You may also use old Kombucha tea that has turned vinegary in place of apple cider vinegar. Pour the prepared tea into a gallon size glass brewing container with a wide mouth (old glass pickle jars work well)

Add the mother mushroom culture to the tea.

Set the brewing container in a warm area (74F to 84F degrees) out of direct sunlight covered with a paper towel or coffee filter and secured by a rubber band.

Let the tea ferment for 7 to 9 days. Keep in mind that the longer you allow the tea to ferment the more sour it becomes. Taste test the tea starting on the 7th day using a straw when you like its taste then "strain the tea off" into another glass container and cool in the refrigerator until ready to drink.

Can I use decaffeinated tea and a sugar substitute?

Decaffinated tea can be used but sugar must be used. Sugar is needed for the fermentation process, most all the sugar will be consumed by the newly forming baby mushroom and the fermentation of the tea.

At the end of 7 days the tea will contain about 1/2 of 1 percent alcohol. Some people do make Kombucha tea using honey, fructous sugar, brown sugar, beet sugar, raw sugar, or sugary fruit juices instead of regular white sugar. White cane sugar however makes the best tasting tea.

Sugar substitues cannot be used to make Kombucha. The amount of caffeine in Kombucha Tea is dependent on the type of tea you initially use when making the tea. Various types of different teas can be used. Green and white teas generally have more caffeine content than black teas. For more info on caffeine content of various teas you can go to this URL address -

What is the most common mistake people make when brewing Kombucha?

There appear to be several mistakes most novice brewers make.

  • Many novice brewers allow the tea to ferment too long and it becomes too sour. Normal brewing time is 7 to 9 days.
  • Novice brewers sometimes mis-identify the new mushroom that is forming on the surface of the tea as mold.

What does the tea taste like?

  • If you use orange pekoe/black tea the taste is like an apple wine cider.
  • If you use green tea it taste like a ginger ale wine.
  • Kombucha can be made using other types of tea as well. The tastes is refreshing and delicious and it will quickly become a favorite drink.

After the tea is done fermenting how should I keep it?

Keep the tea in a glass container (old wine bottles or jugs) in the refrigerator.

Do not store at room temperature or the tea continues to ferment and carbonation pressure can build up in a sealed bottle and it may forcably pop the cap.

Most people agree that the tea reaches its peak flavor after it has aged in the refrigerator for about 2 to 4 days.

It begins to go flat @ ~ 7 to 9 days if left uncapped.

It is safe to drink the tea after it goes flat but it does not taste as refreshing.

Can I brew my tea in a plastic container?
Kombucha is a fermented tea and for the same reason you would not brew or store wine in plastic, you should not brew Kombucha tea, or store the drinking tea, in plastic. The taste suffers,
You can, however, store surplus mushrooms in plastic containers.
How much of the tea should I drink daily?
Most people drink about one to three cups a day. Some in the morning and some in the evening. If you exercise drink the tea prior to starting and you will be most surprised by the extra energy it gives you.
How should I store my mushroom(s)?
Mushrooms can be stored in plastic bags and kept in the fridge. You can store them for long periods of time

  • in a covered glass container (so that they do not dry out)
  • in the refrgerator (not the freezer)
  • store floating in a little sugary tea
I have heard that the mushroom will die and the tea will become poisoned if it comes into contact, even briefly, with metal... is this true?
No this is not true... but the tea will leach metal molecules from ferrous metals such as iron so EXTENDED contact with ferrous metal should be avoided. That is why you should use a brewing container made of glass.
Can I use a plastic container to store and brew my tea in?
I do not recommend the use of plastic containers for storing the tea you will be drinking or as a brewing container.. use glass containers. Kombucha tea is a fermented tea.... would you store or brew wine in a plastic container... the taste suffers if you do. You can however store your surplus mushrooms in plastic containers.
What about mold contamination, I have heard that is this a problem?
Mold contamination is rare and can be avoided by preparing the tea in a clean manner as you should prepare any food. If mold should grow it is easily identified. If mold grows the tea should be discarded. The best way to avoid mold is to cover the brewing jar with a coffee filter secured by a rubber band which will prevent mold spores or small insects (after the sugary tea) from getting into the brewing jar. The tea should also be prepared in a room that has no drafts.
I have diabetes, this tea has a lot of sugar in it, how can I safely drink it?
Most of the sugar initially used to make the tea will be used up in the fermentation of the tea and by the newly forming mushroom. In about 7 to 9 days the tea is neither too sweet or too tart/sour to the taste. It is recommended that if you have diabetes you use less sugar in initially preparing the tea or allow the tea to ferment longer. Sugar is required for the fermentation. Drink limited amounts of the tea at first checking your blood sugar levels to determine the proper amount to drink and the best time of day to do so. Usually you will want to drink the tea when your blood sugar levels are low.
I take medication. What effect will drinking the tea have on the medication I am taking?
Kombucha tea is not likely to effect any medication you are taking... However, you should always check with your physician. If you can drink grapefruit juice, coffee, or wine, you are not likely to have a problem with Kombucha tea. Most people drink about 8 ounces to 24 ounces of tea a day (one cup to three cups). The tea can slightly lower the pH level of bodily fluids if you drink substantially more so check with your physician to see if any of the medication you are taking is pH sensitive. You should not drink huge amount of the tea simply because it is not wise to drink huge amounts of anything. Keep in mind that your physician will probably not be that familiar with Kombucha tea so you may have to educate him. Do not drink the tea if it is very sour as it may upset your stomach
Is it safe for children to drink Kombucha tea?
Yes, but it is not recommended for babies or toddlers because the tea contains alcohol (about 1%) and caffeine. Children should drink proportionately less due to their body size. I had one customer report that her children loved it because of the slight momentary buzz they feel after drinking the tea, most adults also will notice this slight buzz.
Can women who are breast feeding or pregnant drink Kombucha tea?
Pregnant women or women who are breast feeding should not drink excessive amounts of the tea as the tea contains both alcohol (about 1%) and caffeine and is slightly acidic. The tea however can be made with decaf tea. Most people drink 1 to 3 cups a day.
Some incorrectly believe that because Kombucha detoxifies the body the toxins that are removed might somehow be removed to the fetus or a breast feeding baby. This does not happen, such toxins are removed by the functions of the liver and kidneys.

Is Kombucha the same as Tibicos Hongo used to make a similar medicinal drink in Central & South America?
No... Tibicos is a different fermented beverage than Kombucha. It is similiar to Kefir which is a fermented milk culture taken for health. Kefir can be made in different ways other than using milk to make the beverage.
Can the same health benefits be seen from taking Kombucha capsules, extracts, or prepackaged tea bags labeled Kombucha?
Absolutely not, all such products are bogus and provide no health benefits.

The excellent reputation of Kombucha tea has caused many unscrupulous people to sell knock-off products using the name Kombucha. Health benefits from Kombucha are only experienced when you drink the LIVING tea which you can easily make at home for free. Bottled Kombucha tea is now being sold in some health food stores at ridiculously high prices -- another consumer rip-off.

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