While this fermented sugared, caffeinated fermented tea is the going rage, I’ve got questions about it. Common sense tells me that its not so healthy as most folks like to believe. Think about it: to 1 gallon of brewed tea most add 1 C of white sugar. Most of us consume our kombucha long before it has fully fermented, while its still very, very sweet!
We pull it off, congratulating ourselves for finding a healthy, fermented drink. And it may be. I’d be willing to bet its healthier than a soda! But still, for those who wish to avoid blood sugar spikes? Your kombucha contains a refined sugar folks! And you are consuming it if you drink your kombucha while it still has a very sweet flavor.
I like kombucha. I really do. But I wish we had more answers as to when all the sugar and caffeine is consumed. Until I do, there are precautionary measures I take with it.
Consume on Occasion
A bit of sugar now and then isn’t a problem! But to consume it on a daily basis all the while thinking that I am boosting my gut health? One thing I do know for certain is that constantly spiking the blood sugar heightens cortisol levels, known as the fight-or-flight hormone. While this is a natural process in particular (and occasional) situations, to daily trigger through refined sugar consumption often leads to serious health complications. Read more about this process on todaysdietitian.com. Drink it if you must, be keep it in moderation and on occasion!
Use Unrefined Sugars
Unrefined sugars are less likely to spike the blood sugar so quickly as they are a ‘whole’ food and have counter-balancing parts to them. Unlike white (purified) sugar that is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, it takes longer for (most) unrefined sugars to absorb, giving the body less of a high and then low. When it comes to making kombucha in your own home, raw honey is often the favored choice! How to? Cut the amount of sweetener required to 1/2 (or even 1/3) the amount and use honey instead! Your kombucha won’t brew so fast and the scoby won’t form so quickly, but it’ll be healthier!
Ferment to Full Strength
Instead of consuming your kombucha when it is 14-21 days old…wait! If you really and truly want a gut-boosting, fermented drink, let it brew until sour and vinegar-like, beyond what your taste buds are drawn to! Yep, there’s a trick coming up! I have to put an insert here: I so like this method because it accomplishes four things: 1) you will be consuming a well-fermented liquid, 2) it cuts back on the amount you have to ferment, 3) when using natural sugars they do cost and a method that uses less is wonderful, 4) you won’t have to worry about consuming your kombucha before it turns too sour. Shucks, the jar can sit there for months and you’ll only need to pull a wee bit from time to time!
A Tasty, Gut-Boosting Trick
The trick is this: when your kombucha has fermented to beyond-tasty strength, a very small portion of it can be mixed with a natural, un-sweeted fruit juice. When the two are combined, sealed off and bottled up, you’ll very quickly have a delicious drink. Want something that is fermented, carbonated and fizzy? You just found it! My all-time favorite is made with raw apple cider.
The How To’s
Choose your juice. I recommend unsweetened and (ideally) raw options. Frozen concentrate from the store works as well and once-upon-a-time my sister in law and I made a delicious batch of fermented breakfast orange juice!
Raw, Unheated Juice: If you can get your hands on some raw juice, I think its a wonderful way to go! If you make your own raw-pressed grape or apple juice, you’re doing well! If raw juice is frozen for natural preservation, always let it come to room temperature before adding kombucha starter to the mix. I personally believe raw juices are the best option. Not only are they whole and balanced, but still contain vitamins and anti-oxidants.
Frozen Concentrates: these are easily found in the freezer at your grocery store! Be sure to pre-mix your juice with the adequate amount of non-chlorinated water. Let it stand and come to room temperature before adding kombucha starter. Note: if its too cold, it will significantly slow the fermenting process.
Canned or Bottled Juice: juices lose some of their wholesome properties when heated via bottling or canning, yet are a better option to refined, sugar-laden juices. If stored in your home at room temperature, its ready to go!
Mixing Amounts: In a sealing jar or swing-top bottle of choice, add more or less kombucha. Vague, I know! It depends on the warmth of your home, how quickly you want it to ferment, the natural sugar content of your juice and even the strength of the kombucha brew itself! I’d recommend adding in no more than 1/15 parts of kombucha to your juice until you get a feel for the brewing process. Also be aware that adding too much will naturally impart a vinegar-like flavor!
Safeguard against over-fermentation by daily breaking the seal to release gasses and test flavors. Its possible that a small scoby (gelatinous substance) may form on the top, as picture below in an apple cider fermentation. Scoop it off, cause no one wants a mouthful of that!
When happy with the strength of the ferment, pop it into the fridge to stop the fermenting process or your kombucha will work with the natural sugars and you’ll once again have a very vinegary drink!