Can I make kombucha from herbal tea?

Have you ever wondered if you can brew kombucha using a herbal infusion instead of traditional tea?

Maybe you are doing something like a “locavore challenge” and only eating and drinking what can be grown or produced within 100 miles of your home. Maybe you are a prepper of some sort, wanting to know if your kombucha scoby will survive on your local tea substitute plants. Or maybe you like the idea of bitter-herb spring tonics, but find them to be too, well frankly, bitter!

This question about using herbal tea to make kombucha is one of those queries that you’ll see come up time and time again in fermenting forums. It’s a variation of the “do I have to use normal tea?” question, and is usually answered with the traditional wisdom that ordinary black, green or oolong etc tea is what kombucha needs and that to stray from that is to invite disaster.

Well.

It appears that, like much of life, the truth is much less straightforward.

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Tell me more about tea!

Exploring some research into the antioxidant activities of different teas.

As you probably know very well, kombucha is made from a base of sugary tea.

In the articles I’ve already covered on this site we’ve discovered that the number and strength of antioxidants in kombucha is greater than what is found in the normal tea, and we also know that green tea kombucha has a higher level of antioxidant activity than black tea kombucha.

What I haven’t looked into on this website yet are any papers about the antioxidant activities of different types of tea.

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Should we keep kombucha in the fridge?

How long do kombucha’s probiotics survive in the fridge? Possibly not very long.

Discover how to maximise the probiotic content of your home made kombucha!If you’re drinking kombucha mostly as a health tonic you’re most likely drinking it to take advantage of one or other of its two main health benefits. You’re either drinking it because you are wanting to increase the amount and variety of antioxidants in your diet, or you’re wanting a natural and delicious source of probiotics.

Now, naturally you’re wanting to maximise the health benefits of kombucha, while still keeping it tasting great.

The question we’re addressing today is what happens to the probiotics – and especially the Lactic Acid Bacteria – once the kombucha is put into the fridge? Is it still ok? Or is it better to drink it straight after its fermented – without refrigerating? And what might that mean for storing your scoby?

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Does Kombucha really need white sugar?

Get the low-down on how you can use alternative sugars to brew your kombucha.

That’s a question I hear A LOT in kombucha discussions. And until now my answer has been, “Yes. If you possibly can.”

The reason I said that was because kombucha scobys have been raised and cultured on plain white sugar for generations now, and if you want the best kombucha from your scoby, you need to stick to the basics and give it white sugar.

As my Dad always used to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

At least… that’s what I thought!

Except that today’s studies tell a different story.

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Is Kombucha Healthy? A general introduction.

Simply Kombucha

The following article is adapted from the ‘Health Claims’ chapter in my book Simply Kombucha.

 

Kombucha has a long history of being promoted as a health drink. Almost every blog or article I read about kombucha has a list of medical complaints or illnesses that it is supposed to heal or at least help with.

All the early kombucha books from the 1990s are full of hints and tips about using kombucha to heal wounds, beat arthritis, or combat hair-loss. Even AIDS was claimed to respond to this amazing “miracle mushroom”.
On closer reading I found that the authors of those books also tended to speculate about cosmic rays and crop circles, making me a touch skeptical about their medical opinions, no matter how expert they were in the art of brewing kombucha. So I looked online to see what the current state of opinion was about kombucha’s healing powers.

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What happens inside Kombucha Vinegar?

How to Hack Your Brew – adjusting sugar, fructose, alcohol, and acidity by changing the brew time.

whats-going-on-in-kombucha-vinegar

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside your batch of kombucha when you leave it too long? What about when you’re deliberately making kombucha vinegar? What are the changes that happen?

Or maybe you’re trying to hack your kombucha brew to get a particular effect. If you want to minimize the sugar, how long should you leave it? What happens to the sugar? How much alcohol gets produced and when? How acidic does it get and when? How much fructose gets produced?

Well, you are not alone in asking those questions!

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Use your kombucha to make yoghurt? Why yes, yes you can.

Can you use kombucha to ferment dairy milk? Yes! Here’s how to make yoghurt (yogurt) at home using a kombucha scoby.

kombucha-yoghurt
Note: This picture isn’t of kombucha yoghurt. I’m not sure what it is. Some sort of lemon parfait maybe? Looks good, though. Scroll further down for pictures of actual kombucha yoghurt.

If you’ve spent any time at all on a general fermented foods forum, you will know the huge variety of cultures that are out there.

If you’re looking for fermented vegetable recipes, you’ll be hearing about saurkraut,  kimchi, cortido, kvass, dill pickles. If you want something fizzy to drink, there’s kombucha, jun, and water kefir.

If you want a dairy ferment, there’s milk kefir, lassi, ordinary yoghurt and Caspian Sea yoghurt (sometimes known as Caucasian yoghurt). There’s the coconut milk versions of each of them, too.  And that’s not even touching on the cheese options available.

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Kombucha for heart health

Drinking kombucha could improve your heart risk factors, and increase the odds of full recovery from a heart attack

kombucha-for-heart-health

Did you know that drinking kombucha could help protect against heart attack?

Well, now you do. 🙂

Today’s research article demonstrates that, in rats at least, a daily dose of kombucha leads to higher HDL cholesterol (the good kind), lower triglycerides, and a better outcome if a heart attack does happen.

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Lactic acid bacteria. Why you want them when you’re making kombucha.

lactic acid bacteria

When we’re making kombucha, we want it to be as healthy and as health-giving as we can. Because even though it tastes great, most of us are doing this because we want to see improvements in our health. Otherwise, why bother, right?

So, let’s dive into the exciting world of lactic-acid bacteria, and how they benefit your kombucha brew.

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