Kombucha is a fermented "mushroom tea" that is used for medicinal effects, as well as an uplifting, tonic beverage drink.
It is cultured from a round "zoogleal mat" that rests inside the jar of ferment, a liquid blend of tea and sugar (or other natural sweetener).
The "mushroom" culture is not technically a mushroom, but a round pancake-like, firm jelly structure, called "the mother."
It is a membrane of yeasts and bacteria that covers the top of the liquid.
The fermentation process produces a fizzy, tangy, sour, vinegar-like tea that many people today consume for its wonderful taste and nutritional benefits.
See our kombucha recipe for the basics on how to make your very own.
The "mushroom mother" doubles in size and can actually be used again and again to create a new batch. As they multiply, you can pass them along to your friends and family as gifts!
This refreshing drink originated in the Himalayas in 221 BC and became very popular in Russia in the 19th century, where is was known as "kvass" and is still a popular beverage today.
In the Chinese Qin Dynasty, it was described as a longevity drink, "a beverage with magical powers enabling one to live forever."
It maintains an anti-microbial activity from the variety of acids produced. It supports the intestinal tract and is also known to supply ample amounts of B vitamins.
Its high enzymatic activity aids the stomach in digestion and the spleen in pulling out nutrients from food. It helps to ensure acid/alkaline balance in the body by promoting tissue and blood alkalinity.
In essence, the power of kombucha comes from its ability to break down stagnation and toxins in the body.
It contains a compound called glucaric acitate, which helps the liver to detoxify. Glucaric acid is being researched as a possible cancer inhibitor.
A research study was conducted at Cornell University on the tea’s anti-microbial activity. It was concluded that its acetic acid composition and levels proved effective against a range of pathogenic bacteria.
See our Superfood Evolution Ezine #7 for information about the 2010 Kombucha Drink Controversy and potential alcohol content.
Many people who drink kombucha are often concerned that they are taking in the caffeine and sugar content that is used to ferment it.
It is popular opinion, however, that virtually all the sugar and caffeine used to make it are consumed and transformed by the mushroom culture.
That is to say, the culture eats the sugar and caffeine present in the beginning stages of the brewing process and leaves little, to no trace of it, in the end product.
From my experience, however, I think this depends on how long you ferment it. It is best to consume it when it is at its prime. This is when it is slightly vinegar in taste, but not overly so.
Because of the fermentation process, it can contain up 1.5 percent ethyl alcohol. This percentage often depends on the total brewing time.
The longer it ferments, the more potential alcohol it may have. Often, this is what adds to its effervescent quality, offering a delivery vehicle for its medicine and tonic effects.
You can start your own mushroom tea using a commercial tea brand (unflavored). This is contain a culture starter that will grow a mother mushroom, which you can use again and again.
We show you how to make your own mother mushroom on our recipe page.
You can even add in other superfoods straight to your drink.
Or add in for and extra super boost:
(For those avoiding alcoholic beverages (even trace amounts), try our refreshing, fermented rejuvelac beverage, for an alternative to this mushroom tea.)