i really like this drink that is called enlighten living raw kombucha. has anyone had or seen these drinks, the nutritional facts say that there is only 2 grams of sugar per serving and it has live cultures and probiotics. just wondering if this falls into the paleo diet. if not is it good bad neutral?
I don't know enough about "Paleo" to be able to speak about whether or not kombucha is compatible, but I love kombucha. I got tired of paying so much, and make my own. I use honey to brew mine, because kombucha is older than refined sugar, so maybe it is old enough to qualify.
I know there a a lot of claims about the health benefits of kombucha, but I just drink it because I like it. I tell people it is "health food soda pop". It is a live food, full of micro organisms, and what ever else is used to flavor it.
I'm interested to see what the paleo people say about its place in the paleo life style and diet.
Tea and sugar act as a nutrient solution for the bacteria and yeast that live in the kombucha, and they consume the sugar in order to produce their various products, so the amount of sugar left in the kombucha at the end is minimal (this varies depending on brewing time, etc.)
For my two cents, I would not be worried about the sugar in the kombucha as far as it being a Paleo "violation."
You might want to drink the kombucha with a straw and drink water afterward, though, because it can be pretty rough on your tooth enamel due to the acidity. Also don't brush your teeth within half an hour or so of drinking it, so you don't scrub off your enamel while it's weakened.
I'd also suggest looking into brewing your own; it's much cheaper and more convenient. I use a continuous brew system in which I keep a vessel brewing all the time, and just decant what I want to drink and add more nutrient solution as necessary. It's also healthier, since many of the more beneficial compounds produced by the kombucha are present in the brew only after a couple of weeks or a month, longer than most people batch brew. You can also brew in batches, but it is messier and more irritating in my opinion.
Here are some photos of my setup. Please excuse my less-than-Martha-Stewart-worthy kitchen. The first is of the continuous brewing vessel, to which I add sweet tea once a week or so. The second is the kombucha being decanted; easy peasy! The third is the SCOBY (the bacteria and yeast colony) living on top of the brew. The brown spots are not mold, by the way; they are loose tea leaf fragments that escaped into my nutrient solution at one point, which don't seem to be hurting anything (they've been there a few months and the SCOBY seems to have assimilated them without undue distress, and no mold has formed.) Your SCOBY will also grow more SCOBYs that you can keep for backup in case yours gets moldy or has issues, but they are really very resilient.
If you just clean the brewer and do scoby maintenance once a year, how thick does your scoby get? I have this theory that the thick formation is related to exposure to the air, and I am guessing that once your scoby mother gets in touch with the walls of the container, there is not air getting in, and you would not get an ever increasingly thick mother in that year.
I can't help but wonder about things and make up reasonable theories for myself, and I have thought that the function of the mother in ancient times was to exclude all the wild organisms from taking over the brew. It makes such a nice fitting lid... and since the kombucha can and does ferment-brew-form without the scoby, because of the microorganisms in the liquid, well, that's my idea on it, and I'm curious if your experience with your brewing system can shed any light on the question for me.
I would like to try honey in mine--do you notice much difference in the flavor versus sugar? I have heard that it's a good idea to do a batch of black tea and sugar every so often to keep your SCOBY healthy even if you normally use honey and/or herbal or green/white tea, etc. but I have heard from several people who don't bother and have good results, which it sounds like you do too. I often use various types of tea (black, green, white, rooibos, herbal, yerba mate, etc.) but haven't tried anything other than organic evaporated cane sugar as a sweetener.
Fear of exploding jugs is one reason I don't do the second ferment very often! I try to keep them covered with cloths and/or in boxes when I do, to contain the damage. The open container is nice for that reason. One downside is that fruit flies absolutely love it. They will hang out on the cloth cover and buzz around the brewer constantly (cheesecloth is too loose a weave for this reason, it needs a tighter fabric to keep them out). They were especially bad when I first set up the brewer, but then sort of became endemic. I keep a trap out for them, a glass or bowl of kombucha with a little dish soap in it to break the surface tension to they drown when they land.
The SCOBY gets pretty thick, but not more than probably three inches (comprised of several layers that can be pulled apart). The oldest growth is on the bottom, and gets quite dark from exposure to the tannins in the tea, and the newest, whitest growth is on top where it is exposed to the air. It keeps forming new top layers even after it seals over the top, but maybe at a reduced rate. I have also heard people say that the seal created by the SCOBY over the top of the brew allows for anaerobic fermentation and that this makes a difference somehow, but I don't really know what the significance is.
I actually didn't know that people brewed without a SCOBY! So you just mix sweet tea with kombucha that's already matured and it converts it?
What you say about the SCOBY mainly functioning to exclude other wild organisms from invading the brew makes sense to me. I've definitely noticed that my kombucha is virtually mold-proof whereas the surfaces of my fermented vegetables tend to mold as often as not despite being airlocked (except for my big crocks of sauerkraut). This is true even when I ferment a new batch of veg in an already mature brine, although not as much as if I'm using a fresh brine. Of course those are lactic acid ferments and not acetic acid ferments like kombucha, but I do wonder if the SCOBY "lid" has something to do with it. Do ever have mold problems with your SCOBY-less batch brews?
One other observation about the SCOBY is that when it gets really abundant, it seems like the brew gets more vinegary--not just that it matures faster, but I think it produces a greater proportion of acetic acid than if there's a smaller SCOBY but still the same ratio of mature kombucha to fresh nutrient solution.
Isn't it nice we could meet up over Trinda's question!
I also keep my sealed growlers in a bucket with a loose lid, so that everything will be contained. I guess I could put them in the sink with a towel over them. I never thought of a cardboard box, but why not!
In answer to your questions:
The flavor of the honey does come through. So if you have a honey that you particularly love, then you would not need to add a tea for flavor. If it is just so so honey, then flavor away. I use hibuscus or ginger or elderberry-hibiscus or what ever I have. I do like rooibos kombucha. I like hops kombucha, but only a little hops and very little honey, just enough to get some carbonation in a dry bitter brew, just right for summer! i tried coffee kombucha, not worth repeating. Vanilla rooibos kombucha is just like vanilla creme soda, but not so sweet. I think white sugar tastes funny, so I must notice a difference, though I could not describe it. To me, honey is the "normal" flavor. I dissolve the honey in some boiling water, using water displacement to measure it.
I use 1/3 cup of honey in 1/2 gallon finished volume. I don't notice the kombucha "weakening" in any way. I've kept the same starter going for years at a time. I use GT Dave's original when I need a starter, recommend it to others when I teach how to make it.
And you are right about brewing without the scoby. You just put the matured starter in. I like to use one pint of starter in 1/2 gallon. And, if you do not seal it, and you leave it long enough, you will get a scoby on the surface. Otherwise you can sometimes see a filmy veil in the liquid, just as in commercial kombucha.
Never have mold, but it doesn't get a chance. The liquid is so thoroughly inoculated with starter, that a spore or two just could not get a "foot hold" in there. Mine is a short fermentation, usually done and in the frige in 24 hours or less.
I think if I had a handy dispenser on the counter, like you do, I would over indulge, I would drink even more of it.
Interesting observation on the acetic acid production.
I wonder what would happen if you separated off a few layers of the scoby and covered the top of your vegetable fermentations, would it prevent mold, would it change the flavor. Some vegetable fermentation instructions recommend adding kombucha and or whey as starter organisms.
Where did you get your crock? Is it designed for something else (what?) and you saw the potential and suddenly had yourself a fine K-brewer?
A bucket would definitely be more convenient for hauling out any exploded growlers, but unfortunately buckets don't last a second around here without getting appropriated for something or other!
Oooh, I never thought of hops kombucha--I will have to try that. I should also try hibiscus, since that's abundant here. And vanilla rooibos sounds amazing. So many new ideas! The white sugar is one reason I tend to brew my kombucha till it's almost too tart to drink, to get rid of the sugary flavor (not just the sweetness, but the sugar flavor itself) but unfortunately in our warm climate it gets pretty vinegary, I think because the yeasts take over. I find that organic evaporated cane juice produces a better flavor than conventional white granulated sugar, which tastes creepy (I have used it a couple times in a pinch; I have to special order organic stuff out here). Honey sounds much tastier--plus I want bees at some point, so that would eliminate another expense and point of commercial dependency, which would make me happy. Thanks for letting me know your proportions--that will help a lot as I experiment.
I definitely do over-indulge sometimes! It is almost too convenient, but it keeps me from drinking a lot of normal sweet tea or fruit juice (or heaven forbid, soda) all the time, since I am unfortunately one of those people who find water boring.
I am going to try a SCOBY topper next time I ferment some vegetables; I never would have thought of that, but now I'm too intrigued to pass it up!
I got my crock from this website, and it is actually specifically for kombucha:
They actually sell a variety of continuous brewing vessels; mine is the American-made stoneware. It was very pricey (at least for my pocketbook) but I do like to support artisans when I can and I had just sold my place in Austin, so I decided to splurge. Now I would probably try to find something cheaper, since all their vessels are expensive. I have heard of people using those big glass lemonade dispensers that sit on counters. If they're clear instead of opaque you just have to keep them covered or somewhere dark but with good ventilation. I would recommend switching out the spigot if you find a vessel with a plastic one, though. I have a wooden spigot with a cork fitting, and they actually sell it on the website with the crocks. I prefer wood to plastic or metal due to the constant exposure to the acidic kombucha. The other thing to watch out for if you find a second-hand or vintage crock is glazes that may contain lead.
Thanks for the link. I checked out the continuous brewers on the site. I like them, but as you say they are pricey. I have a dear friend who is a potter, and it is possible he would make me one. I would have to pay him probably more than the handmade ones on the site and wait longer, but his glazes are unbelievably beautiful, and I trade soap, cheese and eggs for pottery, so that's an option, unless he is feeling like he never wants a custom order again!!! ever! Which is how a lot of people - artists- feel about special orders, custom orders, but he might let me make one in his studio.
I like the indistructability of stainless steel, and trust it, so that is probably my second choice. My birthday is in November, so maybe....
Here's one I found for under $40, and it looks like at least one of the reviewers on Amazon has used it for kombucha with good results!
Any acidic drink below a pH of ~5.0 - 5.7 challenges tooth enamel (kombucha is well below that) and there is a period after bathing teeth in something acidic during which the enamel is softened and abrasion, such as with a toothbrush (especially if using an abrasive such as baking soda or toothpaste/tooth powder) can do even more damage. This is not to say that kombucha will necessarily cause cavities if the rest of the diet, lifestyle, and dental hygiene are good, but if teeth are already compromised, if diet is not ideal, or if there are other chronic issues or acute events that affect the body's ability to heal itself, kombucha can cause a lot of damage. I have had multiple dentists and dental hygienists tell me that they can tell when someone drinks a lot of kombucha, just like they can tell when someone drinks a lot of soda, by looking at the state of their teeth (this was when I lived in Austin, where there were lots of people into health food and such). I have also known several people who were eating a Paleo, Primal, or Weston A. Price-style diet who have had to quit drinking kombucha because of tooth sensitivity or reports from their dentists that their teeth were deteriorating, so it is not just vegans or people eating a standard American diet who experience these issues. Drinking acidic drinks through a straw and chasing them with water so the acid does not remain on the tooth surface for extended periods can help mitigate any ill effects while still getting the benefits of the beverage. Raw milk is great for remineralizing teeth topically; saliva production and vitamin/mineral status also play a big part internally. Unfortunately cow's milk makes my skin break out like crazy and I can't drink more than small amounts, which makes me very sad; I am less enthused about other animals' milk unless it is made into cheese or yogurt.
No, I am not saying that raw milk causes tooth decay. As I said, foods with a pH of below ~5.0 to 5.7 have been found to damage teeth due to acid erosion. Milk has a much more neutral pH. As I stated in my previous post, it's also great for remineralizing the tooth surface, so in my opinion raw milk is a winner when it comes to dental health, in people who tolerate it well.
As for kraut juice, acidic foods are usually less of a problem than acidic drinks, because they don't bathe the teeth in the same way, and people don't tend to go around sipping on them all day. But yes, if a person were to go around drinking straight kraut juice, the acidity can damage their tooth enamel. Teeth naturally remineralize and certain dietary and lifestyle factors make them less susceptible to decay, so if a person is otherwise healthy and eating a good diet, it is unlikely that drinking kombucha or kraut juice (much less eating fermented foods) is going to cause tooth decay on its own, as I said before.
Tooth decay actually does seem to pre-date fermentation of foods by humans, at least as a widespread phenomenon. Fermentation is mostly a Neolithic phenomenon, whereas there is evidence of tooth decay going back at least 14,000 years, well into the Paleolithic. But anyway, I'm clearly not saying that fermented foods are the only things that cause cavities, so the relative dates are pretty much irrelevant. Clearly the mere absence of modern foods is not enough, on its own, to ensure healthy teeth for everyone, or we wouldn't find hunter-gatherers with cavities.
However, most modern people do have teeth that have already been compromised from a lifetime of bad eating and lifestyle factors and have chronically compromised immunity, poor diets, chronic exposure to environmental toxins, and a host of other issues. As I mentioned, I know many people who have found that a change in diet to a Weston A. Price style of eating has not been sufficient to allow them to enjoy acidic drinks such as kombucha without compromising their dental health. I am very glad that it worked for you, but that doesn't mean that it will work for everyone. In addition, there may be people reading this thread who do not follow your preferred way of eating for personal, religious, or ethical reasons, and who still want to enjoy kombucha without messing up their teeth.
Of course modern junk foods and sugary drinks are terrible for teeth and for our bodies in general. Kombucha is certainly healthier, and obviously I drink it myself. I am not a fan of many modern dental practices; I mostly dealt with "alternative" dentists when I could find them, and all of them took nutrition very seriously and discussed it with their patients. When I hear report after report (from dentists and patients) that they had exchanges in which the dentist looked at their teeth, said, "You've started drinking a lot of kombucha, haven't you," and turned out to be correct, that holds some weight with me.
I have read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. I have a lot of respect for Weston A. Price. I've read sally fallon's stuff as well, and Ramiel Nagel's. I don't recall reading anything there that contradicts the finding that acidic drinks of a pH less than 5.0 or so challenge tooth enamel and make it more susceptible to abrasion, but my memory is of course not perfect, and if you'd like to post a specific quote or something similar to discuss I'd be happy to.
In any case, the measures I suggested in order to minimize tooth sensitivity and possible damage to the enamel (drinking the kombucha through a straw, following it up with some water, and waiting at least 30 minutes after drinking it before brushing one's teeth) can be practiced by anyone following any style of eating, including WAPF, and still allow one to get the full benefits of the kombucha. For that matter, these are good strategies if one is going to indulge in soda, lemonade, iced tea or other acidic, sugary, or staining drinks.
I personally use a washable and reusable glass drinking straw in order to avoid plastics and unnecessary waste. There are also stainless steel versions available which are less likely to break or chip, but I've found that I can detect a slight metallic taste that I find off-putting.
I'm also not saying kombucha of a higher pH is better for you. As you point out, it would have much more sugar (and kombucha of a sufficiently high pH to avoid acid erosion wouldn't even really be kombucha, mostly just sweet tea). My suggestion to someone who is experiencing problems with acidic drinks would be to use the strategies I suggested (straw, water, wait to brush) or to simply stop drinking kombucha rather than not fermenting their kombucha long enough, which would fix the acid erosion problem only to introduce a sugar problem, and would eliminate most of the benefits of the kombucha.
The fact that you have consumed a lot of kombucha and don't have cavities is wonderful, but it's not proof that everyone can do so. The existence of indigenous groups largely free of tooth decay who consume fermented beverages is also not proof that modern people, who have very different diets, lifestyles, and environments, can consume unlimited quantities of these beverages without any issues. The fact that I know people who have experienced enamel damage due to drinking kombucha also does not mean that everyone will have problems with it, but clearly some people do.
Maybe I wasn't clear, but I wasn't talking about people who had tooth decay before drinking kombucha and still had it afterward. I'm talking about people who were eating a healthy diet and had no signs of tooth decay or acid erosion and then, after beginning to drink lots of kombucha, showed signs of weakened enamel and incipient decay that were obvious to their dentist, and/or began experiencing painful tooth sensitivity that was not present before they starting brewing/drinking kombucha. Moreover, it was clear to the dentists that this damage was consistent with what they commonly observed in people consuming acidic drinks, and not with other patterns and factors that they see a lot. The dentists were able to identify this issue and predict the cause (drinking lots of kombucha or other acidic beverages) without knowing about it beforehand, merely by examining the teeth of their patients. After ceasing to drink kombucha or employing the strategies I listed (straw, water, wait to brush), the teeth recovered.
Again, I'm not saying that kombucha or kvass or kefir or any of the other fermented beverages are bad for you, or that just because something doesn't have an acidic pH it's necessarily good for you. I'm just saying that for some people, even healthy fermented beverages can cause or exacerbate dental problems, a problem that can be mitigated by the simple strategies I listed without losing any of the benefits of the beverage or introducing anything harmful into the body.
You keep comparing kombucha to things like soda. No one here thinks soda is good for you, or that the way it is produced and marketed is desirable. If you want to say that kombucha is better than soda, I completely agree. However, that doesn't mean that no one who drinks kombucha can possibly experience any problems from it. I know many people who get great health and wellbeing benefits from kombucha but also happen to experience some dental problems because of it. That's why I shared some ways that people can still continue to enjoy kombucha and experience its benefits without having to endure painful tooth sensitivity or compromise their dental health.
Anyway, I feel like this conversation is becoming unproductive, so I'm going to end it here.
Agree with you totally that 90% of stuff in the store is not worth eating. I am very glad to be able to grow, gather, and hunt my own for the most part.
I am actually considering trying to brew kombucha with tea made from our locally abundant Yaupon Holly leaves. It is (to my knowledge) the only naturally caffeinated edible plant in North America, and many Native groups drank a tea brewed from the leaves. I have been wondering how it would work. If I could use it and eventually harvest honey from my own bees, that would be two fewer foodstuffs I have to purchase.
Lots of people brew kombucha without black or green tea, without caffeine. You still get the acetic and glucoronic acid when brewing with herbal tea. The plant you are familiar with there would likely work fine from the kombucha stand point. I don't know anything about the plant itself, but it sounds like you feel safe with it.
Or, how about this? Could you grow a tea plant at your place? Camellia sinensis.
Do other camellias grow where you are? In the mediterranean climate where I grew up, people grew camellias, usually on the north side of the house.
For anyone who wants to harvest their own yaupon, make sure you don't accidentally harvest toxic Chinese Privet instead! Here is a picture of the yaupon:
Also, on another thread I saw a link to this upcoming webinar on making your own kombucha, for anyone who's interested:
Once I had a fair amount, I washed the leaves, spread them on a cookie sheet, and roasted them in an oven pre-heated to 375F for 15 minutes.
Then I crumbled them up with my fingers. They had just the faintest hint of an oily sheen to them, and smelled nice while roasting.
I then used a generous teaspoon of them in a muslin reusable tea bag (superior to tea balls for keeping bits of leaf out of your cup) to which I added ~1 cup of boiling water. I let it steep for five minutes and tasted it. It was nicely smoky and fairly tasty, but a bit weak. I put the teabag back in while I sipped, and it seemed to peak a few minutes later, at which point I removed the tea bag. Pictures of all this are included below.
When there was about half a cup left, I added some whole milk, which I usually take with my black tea, just to see how it held up. The milk overwhelmed it a bit, and it just sort of ended up tasting like...smoked milk. Not actually bad, but not what I was going for. The smokiness is strong enough that I don't necessarily want to increase the tea to water ratio, lest it become overwhelmingly smoky, but I would like a somewhat stronger brew. Maybe next time, I will roast the leaves for less time or at a lower temperature, but use more tea leaves when brewing.
The only thing less than satisfying about it is that it doesn't taste exactly like real tea, which is what I'm programmed to expect and enjoy, so all other "teas" tend to be disappointment to me. However, I feel like I could acquire a pretty good taste for this, unlike for most herbal teas. I don't know if I'm subconsciously sensing the caffeine and my body is happy about that, or if I just like the smoky flavor or what, but this is definitely toward the better end of the spectrum for tea alternatives in my book.
Overall, I am pretty happy with the flavor, and I will use the rest of the leaves to try it out as hot tea with honey, sweet iced tea, and kombucha. I'll report back on how that goes.
(but how confusing in a discussion about fermenting kombucha to start talking about fermenting the tea leaves)
So, OK, I looked it up, and it's not fermenting, it's enzymatic oxidation according to one reference.
I don't know a lot about it, but from what I understand, the fresh picked leaves are allowed to wilt or they are kept from drying out and stay in their wilting state for longer periods of time. At some point they are considered "done" then the oxidation is interrupted by steaming or roasting. And then it gets dried.
The process develops the different flavors. When we drink Oolong tea, it has been only partially "fermented" and in Formosa / Taiwan the making of oolong is/ was considered an art form. There are lots of variables in the process which is probably how come there can be so many teas from one tea plant.
Anyway, I'm just thinking maybe you might develop more of the flavor you were wanting by doing a little research and a little experimenting.
I added a half gallon of yaupon sweet tea to my continuous brewer, putting it at maybe 1/4 to 1/3 yaupon tea, with the rest being regular sweet tea. It's working well so far! After a couple days to incorporate the yaupon tea, the flavor is good and the SCOBY seems healthy; new film is forming where the culture got knocked away from the side of the vessel when I added the yaupon tea, so it doesn't seem to have killed the SCOBY or inhibited its growth. I can detect a faint hint of smokiness from the roasted yaupon tea, but it's barely noticeable. It was quite noticeable when I tasted the mix after first adding the yaupon tea, and I was a little worried, but the flavor improved a lot and is really tasty now. As I continue to add more of the yaupon tea, I'm not sure whether the smoky flavor will become too prominent, but we'll see.
I've also read about a method for preparing the yaupon tea that does not involve roasting the leaves. You cut whole branches and hang them indoors somewhere warm to dry, and put a tray, towel, or container under the branch to catch the leaves as they dry and fall. This may be a way to avoid the smokiness if it becomes a problem. This is also supposed to enhance the caffeine content.
I also tried the yaupon as regular sweet iced tea. Not bad, not great. Kind of weak, so it was more like smoky sugar-water than iced tea. Next time I will increase the ratio of tea:water when brewing versus what I usually use for black tea. But I think I'm too hung up on my "normal" iced tea to really switch to this.
Tried the yaupon as hot tea with honey. Really good! The smokiness of the tea and the sweetness and depth of the honey created a flavor somewhat reminiscent of creme brulee. I would cut down a bit on the honey, though, versus what I usually use, because again the yaupon seems too delicate to counter the sweetness of the honey as much as black tea usually does.
Thekla, I will look more into how black tea is oxidized and processed. Thank you for that suggestion! I would really like to be able to recreate that flavor I am hooked on.
I got my handmade stoneware vessel here, although they are painfully expensive; they also have other nice but less pricey options, includingwood, porcelain, and stainless steel vessels
Jennifer Richardson wrote:Dawn, sorry for the late reply, I haven't been on Permies recently.
I got my handmade stoneware vessel here, although they are painfully expensive; they also have other nice but less pricey options, includingwood, porcelain, and stainless steel vessels
OMG that is expensive! I think I will tale the picture to my local potter here in Spain and ask him what he wants for something like it 😊
One of the odder anecdotal stories about increased gut bacteria is actually pushing me to action. There are some studies that suggest increasing the bacterial health of the gut actually helped in some cases of autism. My mother was telling me about this as a prelude to pointing out that many of my more antisocial behaviors have dramatically improved over the last few years as I consciously included more fermented foods in my diet. I have successfully developed a taste for kombuchas during over these years and so I'm willing to try adding more to my diet. If she's right, and the kombucha was a large factor, then there are other people in the house who might also find it beneficial.
(Edited for multiple typos🙄)
Casie Becker wrote:Okay, poking around makes it look like there are two different camps of kombucha brewers. Does anyone here have strong feelings or particular experience of the differences between batch brewing and continuous brewing? If this turns out well I will probably want to spend some money to get some large volume fermenting equipment so I'd like to start early determining if I am looking at dedicated brewing crocks or just large traditional fermenting crocks. I know I don't have enough experience with fermenting to form a complete picture of the pros and cons0 of each.
I have two co tinous brews set up these days - bc. we found that the sugar content would often be too high.if we had one... (I would get blood sugar crashes and my husband's eczema would flare). So what I am doing is almost batch except I have jars w. spouts, bc. It is so much easier. I've bought mine in IKEA, very cheaply - they are made of glass.