If you’re at the stage in your ME/CFS when you are struggling to cook a simple meal, then please feel free to ignore this post. However, I’m trying to get from 70-80% recovered to 100%, and Kombucha is something that I’m hoping will help me.
Kombucha contains lots of beneficial bacteria and yeasts and as such is supposed to be great for gut health. My nutritionist says that most of my remaining symptoms relate to digestion and absorption issues, so I’m keen to do everything I can to improve my gut health. The idea to try Kombucha did not come from my nutritionist (she’s wary of suggesting actions that require a lot of effort since I was unable to implement several recommendations in the early days), but she is supportive of my decision to try it. I have read about the benefits of Kombucha on various blogs and websites, and also in The Wahl’s Protocol.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink. It is made by making tea, with sugar, and adding a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY forms a layer on top of the tea and slowly “eats” it. After 4-7 days you remove the SCOBY and bottle the liquid Kombucha. At this stage you can add fruit to flavour the Kombucha or just drink it plain. The resulting drink has a pleasant fizziness. I must stress that Kombucha does not taste like Tea. One of the reasons I didn’t try kombucha sooner is that I do not like tea, so I assumed I would not like Kombucha. Kombucha tastes more like cider (or vinegar if left too long) than tea, and in fact does have a low alcohol content (apparently about 0.5% c.f. 3-4% for beer).
What are the benefits of Kombucha?
The health claims for Kombucha include:
- Aids detoxification – it is rich in the enzymes and bacterial acids our bodies need to detoxify
- Cares for our joints – because it contains glucosamines
- Aids digestion and gut health – it’s a probiotic drink, rich in bacteria and yeast
- Boosts the immune system – it’s rich in anti-oxidants
- Rich in B vitamins and minerals
Since I started drinking Kombucha I have stopped taking the probiotic capsules that I’ve been taking for nearly 2 years. Kombucha is much cheaper than buying probiotics.
How to make Kombucha
I have followed the instruction on the Seeds of Health website. After a few run throughs I have found the most efficient way for me to bottle my kombucha and get my new batch started. These instructions are designed to be read after you’ve read the Seeds of Health instructions, and are based on you having a batch ready to bottle and wanting to start a new batch at the same time.
- Filter 2 litres of water and place in saucepan. If you do not own a water filter you can boil the water for 5 minutes to ensure all the chlorine (which will kill your SCOBY) is removed;
- Boil water;
- Turn off heat, add 4 tea bags and 160 g sugar to your boiled water. Put a lid on the pan and leave to cool;
- When you return to the kitchen (I usually wait several hours – there’s no rush here) check your tea is sufficiently cooled
- Ensure your bottles for the batch of Kombucha you have just made are clean;
- Retrieve your Kombucha from wherever it has been brewing (mine lives in the airing cupboard);
- Uncover the Kombucha and using clean hands remove the SCOBY to a plate;
- I “brew” my kombucha in a pyrex bowl, so at this point I tip the kombucha into a large jug. If there are bits of SCOBY floating in the kombucha you may wish to strain it, but I’ve not done this;
- LeaveDo not pour the dregs into the jug: dispose of them. I understand they are dead bacteria and they won’t add anything to the finished drink;
- Using a funnel (I don’t have one yet so my bottling process is quite messy) pour the Kombucha into bottles and seal;
- Wash out the bowl you brew your Kombucha in. Do not use antibacterial soap, as any remnents left in the bowl will kill the SCOBY ;
- Remove the teabags from the cooled tea and pour into the bowl. Add approx one cup of kombucha from the batch you’ve just bottled and then carefully place the SCOBY on top of the tea. Cover with a tea towel, and place somewhere where it won’t be disturbed for 4-7 days.
- Add any flavour that you wish to your kombucha bottles.
I have experimented with a few flavours, and plan to keep trying different ones. I’ve had great success using Cherry Active Concentrate. I also made a lovely pear flavoured bottle (chopped up a pear and added it to the bottle), but I didn’t like a similarly made apple flavoured bottle. My latest experiment was lime and ginger, which I love. There are plenty of flavour ideas on the Cultures for Health Website.
Where to get a SCOBY
Apparently you can buy SCOBYs online, but I got mine via a facebook group similar to freecycle. I simply put a request for someone to let me try their Kombucha (remember I thought I wouldn’t like it because it’s made from tea), and if I liked it to give me some SCOBY. A very nice lady replied to my post and invited me round to her house to drink Kombucha, and then she gave me some SCOBY. My SCOBY is looking really strong after three brewing cycles, so if anyone local wants SCOBY I am now in a position to donate some myself.
I’m really enjoying experimenting with Kombucha, and hopefully I’m experiencing lots of great health benefits. At the very least, I’m saving myself over £20 a month by getting my probiotics from kombucha rather than buying probiotic capsules.