A toast to good health

Pooja Mahesh, Jan 9 2018, 16:10 IST
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Homemade fermented raw kombucha tea with different flavourings.

Known as the "immortal health elixir" by the Chinese, kombucha is a 2,000-year old beverage with tremendous health benefits. Which why this fermented tea drink is slowly catching up among the health conscious in India. "Many are shifting towards foods that are closer to their source and go through minimal to no processing. Which is why one can see a greater demand for more natural options, like kombucha, that are raw, organic, and utilise flavour pairings that provide additional nutrient benefits," says GT Dave of GT's Kombucha.

Know how

So, what exactly is kombucha? It is a fermented drink made by adding a culture of bacteria and yeast, known as SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), to a solution of tea, sugar. "It's part of a family of fermented foods like kefir, kimchi and yogurt. And just like the probiotics in yogurt utilise the nutrients in milk as a food source, the probiotics in kombucha utilise the nutrients in tea in the same way," adds Dave. If you are wondering as to how it tastes like, kombucha has a slight effervescence and sweet-tart flavour. However, as it may come off as having a strong flavour the first time around, it may take some time to get used to the taste.

As it contains probiotics, kombucha helps you improve your gut health. It also detoxes the body and restores balance. This leads to an improved overall wellness. You experience increased energy, better sleep, healthier skin and hair, clearer eyes, and reduced food cravings.

Brew it right

While there are a few individuals and companies selling it commercially, one can easily make kombucha at home. So, what's the process like? First off, brew some tea (either black, green or white tea), sweeten it with sugar and leave it to cool. Next, add the SCOBY. It is best to get your SCOBY from a commercial source. This what turns the tea into kombucha - the SCOBY feeds on the sugar present in the tea over the fermentation process, which usually lasts anywhere between seven and 20 days depending on how much you are making. "Once fermented, the SCOBY leaves behind an absolutely delicious, fizzy, refreshing low-calorie and low-sugar beverage filled with probiotics," says Nitin Gandhi, founder of Bombucha. However, keep in mind that kombucha will have trace amounts of alcohol in it due to the fermentation process.

Once fermented, store the kombucha in the fridge in order to prevent it from fermenting into a vinegar-like liquid. "Once in the fridge, it can be easily stored up to a month. However, keep in mind that it will still continue fermenting at a very slow rate," adds Nitin. Once you have got the hang of making kombucha in its original form, you can consider infusing it with various flavours such as cardamom, fresh pressed ginger or turmeric juice. "Try keeping the sweet juices to a minimum as you don't want to add undesirable sugars," adds Dave.

Tips & tricks

Before you start making at home yourself, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best brew. Keep the following mind while making kombucha:

Source your SCOBY from an established and known brewer.

Store your SCOBY culture in a most, warm and quiet environment

Store kombucha in a hygienic space as it can easily get contaminated if hygiene is not followed.

Get a good glass jar, cheesecloth or muslin cloth and a rubber band to seal the jar.

Use the best quality ingredients, and if possible organic to make kombucha.

Make the tea in small batches and with minimal processing.

Don't filter it or do anything that will compromise the fermentation process.

Follow these tips to get the best batch of kombucha and you are ready to experience the benefits of this wonder tea. However, it is important to start drinking in small quantities, just to see how your body responds to it.

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