Chájūn: Chinese Kombucha

Published on by Sifu

  1. Kombucha has been created all over the world for thousands of years. Russian: chaynyy grib (чайный гриб), Chinese: chájūn (茶菌), Korean: beoseotcha (버섯차), Japanese: kōcha-kinoko (紅茶キノコ). Many families in China are reported to have produced kombucha in their homes, and it was highly popular as a health food during the 1950s and 1960s.

Kombucha is a living, fermented beverage that contains multiple species of yeast and bacteria along with organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids and polyphenols produced by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or SCOBY. The precise quantities vary between batches and varieties, but kombucha typically contains: acetic acid, ethanol, gluconic acid, glucuronic acid, glycerol, lactic acid, usnic acid and B-vitamins. It was also found that kombucha contains about 1.51 mg/mL of vitamin C. Another main ingredient found in kombucha is probiotics.

Kombucha most likely originated in Northeast China or Manchuria, later spreading to east Russia sometime before 1910 and spread from there to Germany and then Europe. It’s typically made from black tea, sugar and water… pure, basic ingredients!

Kombucha has been claimed to cure many diseases and to have a wide range of health benefits; kombucha has been promoted with claims that it can treat a wide variety of human illnesses including AIDS, cancer, and diabetes, and that it provides other beneficial effects such as stimulation of the immune system, boosting the libido, and reversal of gray hair. However, evidence of kombucha's beneficial effects in humans is lacking. In particular, although animal and in vitro experiments suggest that kombucha consumption may be beneficial, as of 2014 no controlled human trials have been conducted to confirm these conclusions.

Reports of adverse effects related to kombucha consumption are rare. The lack of reports may be due either to a true lack of adverse effects or these effects being underreported.

Adverse effects associated with kombucha consumption include severe hepatic (liver) and renal (kidney) toxicity as well as metabolic acidosis. One woman was reported to have died after consuming kombucha though the cause of death was not unequivocally linked to the drink.

Some adverse health effects may be due to the acidity of the tea, which can cause acidosis, and brewers have been cautioned to avoid over-fermentation. Other adverse health effects may be a result of bacterial or fungal contamination during the brewing process. Some studies have found the hepatotoxin usnic acid in kombucha, although it is not known whether the cases of damage to the liver are due to the usnic acid contamination or to some other toxin.

Topical use of the tea has been associated with anthrax infection on the skin in one report, but kombucha contamination may have occurred during storage.

Due to its microbial sourcing and possible non-sterile packaging, kombucha is not recommended in people with poor immune function, in women who are pregnant or nursing, or in children under 4 years old.

There are many different recipes for making kombucha floating around the internet. , This one is very simple. A lot of people seem to be intimidated when it comes to homemade kombucha, but it’s not at all difficult. Give it a try!

Recipe for Homemade Kombucha

You will need a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) to make this recipe. You may obtain a SCOBY from a friend or from a reliable retail source. Each time you make kombucha, you'll "grow" another SCOBY: pass extras on to friends (a SCOBY in a small glass jar with some finished kombucha is a wonderful gift for someone eager to get started making their own) or store in the refrigerator immersed in finished kombucha (or apple cider vinegar) for future batches. If you end up with far more than you can use, you can compost them or use them to make SCOBY "candies".

Kombucha needs air to ferment, which is why you cover your jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band. In warm weather, your kombucha is likely to attract fruit flies.

Ingredients:

*13 cups water, divided (use filtered water, if possible)

*1 cup sugar (organic sugar, raw honey or molasses can be used instead, but most sources state that other sweeteners are not appropriate for making kombucha)

*5 teaspoons organic loose -leaf black tea

*1 cup finished plain kombucha (from a previous batch, a store-bought bottle, or from the liquid the SCOBY comes in)

*1 kombucha SCOBY (obtain from a friend or purchase from reliable retail source)

Directions:

1. Boil 3 cups of water in a stainless steel pot. Add the sugar, and stir until it has dissolved. Remove pot from heat and add loose tea. Allow to soak/cool for about 30 minutes.

2. Pour sweet tea through a fine mesh strainer into your fermenting container (a 1-gallon glass jar with a wide mouth works well...don't use metal or plastic). Compost or discard the tea leaves (alternatively, you can place your loose tea into a muslin tea bag and simply remove the tea bag after steeping). Add the finished kombucha and the SCOBY to the jar with the sweet tea, then add the remaining water (10 cups). Cover the top of your jar with cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. Leave undisturbed for 7-10 days in a warm, dark place. (As your kombucha ferments, a new SCOBY will grow attached to the original one to the width of your container.)

3. After a week, sample your kombucha to determine if it is ready to drink. It should be a bit bubbly and taste both sweet and sour without much hint of the tea. If you are pleased with the taste, use clean hands to remove your SCOBY (and carefully separate it from the new one) and store as directed above (if it's not ready, allow your kombucha to ferment for a few more days...it will take longer to ferment when the ambient temperature is cooler). Transfer kombucha to glass jars for storage (swing-top bottles work well), leaving about 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Allow bottled kombucha to sit at room temperature for a day or two to ferment a bit more/build up carbonation, then place in refrigerator until ready to drink. Kombucha will last in the refrigerator for up to three months, but it is best if consumed sooner: Mastering Fermentation recommends drinking it within a week of opening a bottle.

Adapted just slightly from Mastering Fermentation: Recipes for Making and Cooking with Fermented Foods

Though many who drink kombucha use it as a soda replacement, it's probably best if you sip it in small amounts rather than guzzling a lot at a time. Try drinking a small glass mixed with some fruit juice along with a snack in the afternoon, or just before eating dinner.

Some people seem concerned about the sugar and/or caffeine in kombucha. Rest assured that finished kombucha contains very little of either one because the SCOBY consumes them during the fermentation process.

Enjoy!

Chájūn: Chinese Kombucha
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