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These are abbreviated notes on how to culture Kombucha tea. White sugar is used because some people say it produces the highest amount of glucuronic acid. (See p596 Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.) According to some, the tannins, caffeine and theobromines are converted into substances that support health. However, you should read widely on the subject of kombucha because it is an area which seems to be clouded with half-truths. Aside from that though, kombucha tea definitely has a reputation for improving the health and it makes a delicious drink served with water, ginger beer or fruit juice. Because it has an acidity similar to apple cider vinegar it would be advisable to only drink small quantities. Most people I have spoken to suggest drinking no more than 1/4 of kombucha tea diluted with plenty of water, each day.
The following quantities are for one litre.
5 tablespoons = 1/3 cup
Add the sugar to a glass bowl, dangle the tea bags over the side, then pour on boiling water. Use the tea bags to stir the liquid and dissolve the sugar. Leave the tea bags to steep until the tea has cooled. If you are using loose tea then steep the tea in a teapot, then mix with the sugar and boiled water in a bowl. Some herbs such as papaya leaf will need simmering in boiling water for 2 hours. Strain the herbs through muslin cloth.
When the tea has cooled to below 25C, mix in the Kombucha tea, then float the Kombucha plant on the surface. Cover the bowl with a tea towel held in place with an elastic band and leave it where it won't be disturbed for 2 - 4 weeks at 20-25C. The longer you ferment the kombucha the less sweet and the more acidic it will become. The Kombucha tea is ready when a new mushroom has covered the surface and all of the sugar has been digested. When the kombucha is ready, scoop the tea out the bowl with a small jug and transfer to bottles. Discard the sediment. Refrigerate the kombucha before drinking. Store unused kombucha mushrooms covered with kombucha tea in a jar in the refrigerator.
What to do when you first get your kombucha? The amount of Kombucha tea that you can culture will depend upon the size of the Kombucha plant and the amount of Kombucha tea that you have available to use as a starter. If you have only a small piece of Kombucha, say 4 inches in diameter and no Kombucha tea then pour 500 ml of boiling water over one black tea bag and 3 tablespoons of white sugar. Leave to cool to about 25C and add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar to acidify it. The vinegar will lower the pH and should prevent the growth of mold and pathogens. White vinegar is probably sterile but If you use unpasturised apple cider vinegar then you will also introduce some of the vinegar culture. You may like to gently boil the vinegar first so as not to inoculate the kombucha culture with the vinegar mother. It is preferable to start a kombucha culture using 10% kombucha tea rather than just the mushroom as there is less risk of comtamination from mould and pathogens.
It is preferable to use organic tea. Non-organic black tea contains higher amounts of fluoride. In addition most non-organic teas are irradiated and some are sprayed with pesticides. Use plastic lids or corks as metal lids will corrode.
According to the Godshaer Herbalist Advanced Botanical Centre of Medicine website there are at least five micro-organisms to be found in Kombucha: Acetobacter xylinum, A. xylinoides, A. aceti, A. pasteurianum, Gluconobacter bluconicum, and some yeasts, for instance Schizosaccharomyces pombe, S ludwigii, Pichia fermentans.
On the www.unibuc.ro website, Ioan Florea Dumitru lists yeast species found in kombucha belonging to the genera Zygosaccharomyces, Pichia, Brettanomyces, Schizosaccharomyces, Saccharomycodes, Saccharomyces, Torulaspora and Candida. On the same website it says that: "It was proved that kombucha shows antibiotic effects against different microorganisms. These are Staphylococcus aureus, Shigela sonnei, Escherichia coli, Aeromonas hydrophylia, Yersinia enterolitica, pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter cloacae, Staphylococcus epidermis, Salmonella enteritidis, Salmonella typhimurium, Bacillus cereus, Listeria monocytogenes, Candida albicans, Helicobacter pylori i Campylobacter jejuni."
Here's a link showing the various levels of caffeine in kombucha made from different teas:
An interesting scientific article on kombucha tea.
Kombucha research have a book that you can purchase.
Culture the Kombucha tea either in glass or food grade plastic.
Information on types on containers and specific grades of plastic.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to kombucha. It would be prudent to introduce any cultured food into your diet slowly so as to allow the body to adjust.
1 teaspoon = 5 ml / 5 gm. 1 tablespoon = 15 ml / 15 gm. 15 tablespoons = 1 cup / 225 ml. 1 cup = 8 fluid oz / 225 ml. 1 US gallon = 3.6 litres. 1 lb = 16 oz / 454 gm. Temperature 20C = 68F. Conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius: C = (F - 32) / 1.8. Conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit: F = C x 1.8 + 32
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