Happy BOOCH day! Kombucha, that is.
Powerhouse, Mushroom Tea, Booch, healthy little microbes in a glass - whatever you call it, January 15 is National Booch Day!
Kombucha dates back thousands of years, originating from traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine - just like many of our amazing old time herbal remedies do, including cannabis remedies!
Kombucha is a tangy, sweet, full bodied fermented tea made by adding bacteria, yeast, and sugar to black or green tea. It's been gaining immense popularity over the last few years, along with other fermented foods like kefir, miso, kimchi and raw cheese.
Kombucha has many health benefits, most notably probiotics, or good bacteria, and is known as a “nutritional powerhouse” by adding an additional source of minerals, enzymes, and vitamins C and B.
One of kombucha's nick names, Mushroom Tea, comes from the clump of SCOBY, a living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, which is a key part of the kombucha brewing process. That’s our healthy bacteria and probiotics at work.
The fizzy carbonation comes from acetic acid (what we find in vinegar) and several other acidic compounds along with trace levels of alcohol and gases created during the fermentation process. Alcohol levels in store-bought kombucha should be less than 0.5% alcohol.
The Cleveland Clinic still recommends that pregnant women and children choose another drink and not consume Kombucha, as well as patients with HIV, liver or kidney diseases, compromised immune systems, or alcohol dependency.
The Centers for Disease Control states that four ounces of Kombucha can be safely consumed one to three times a day, but recommends no more than 12oz per day.
A Side Note
I also want to mention something I feel very strongly about as a medical professional: you are your own expert. Please remember that the internet has a lot of information we could all spend hours reading and researching. But in the end, it is always up to you, the consumer or patient to educate yourself, ask the right people the right questions and make appropriate and safe individualized choices. Google is not a doctor, and doctors practice medicine, not perfect it. So you are always the expert of your own health.
Back To Kombucha
I already mentioned kombucha is a rich source of probiotics and healthy bacteria for our gastrointestinal system, and the gut microbiome that's so important to our homeostasis and overall health.
Because kombucha is commonly made with green tea, it has the added benefits of antioxidants and polyphenols. This has been noted to reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as pancreatic and breast cancers. Research shows antioxidants and polyphenols help regulate blood sugar and digestion of carbohydrates and potentially aid in weight loss, both which can help diabetic patients and organ function.
Green tea can improve both good and bad cholesterol levels and lower ones risk of developing heart disease, and kombucha has shown the same promising results in recent rat studies.
Antioxidants, our free radical fighters, also show promising results in animal studies for reducing liver toxicity, lessening the normal, often daily burden we put on our livers.
Kombucha appears to have strong antibacterial properties, especially against candida yeast. Aceitic acid is produced during the fermentation process and can kill harmful bacteria. Kombucha can fight certain microbes that cause inflammation and illness, making it a true preventative medicine.
Simply Health adds to the list of benefits, with arthritis pain relief from the glucosamines in kombucha. Kombucha can help with most all GI issues, constipation or diarrhea and reduce pain from gastric ulcers. At a cellular level, kombucha battles cytotoxicity and strengthens our cell membranes. At an emotional level, kombucha is a mood lifter, rich in Vitamin C and B’s, reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
Cleveland Clinic sums it up for us very well:
“There aren’t a lot of good quality, robust studies to support a lot of kombucha hype, but the compounds it contains have been associated in studies with lowering cholesterol, lowering blood sugar, antimicrobial action, decreased rates of cancer and improvement in liver and GI function.”
Mayo Clinic recommends folks to consider risks such as infection, allergic reactions, and stomach upset, and to be cautious with home brews where non-sterile conditions cans make contamination more likely.
Ceramic pots have resulted in lead poisoning, so be sure not to use ceramic in home brews. So, just as many medical folks do with cannabis, Mayo Clinic airs on the side of caution, stating that the "prudent approach is to avoid kombucha tea until more definitive information is available.”
Healthline warns consumers of serious dangers to one's health with over-fermented or contaminated kombucha, especially homemade kombuchas, and recommends buying from the store.
Now, if we all decided to have that approach with cannabis and home grows over the last 80 years, where would we be today?
Making Your Own
Speaking of home grown cannabis and home brewed kombucha, how do you make home brewed booch?
As I mentioned in the beginning, you need a SCOBY (living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). You can make your own SCOBY or kombucha mother, all you need is tea, sugar and some pre made kombucha. Just be sure not to use honey or decaf tea if you are making your own SCOBY.
A SCOBY can be purchased online or found in some health food and supplement stores or maybe you have a friend who can throw some SCOBY your way in the form of a SCOBY clone. It won’t take long for you to be regularly home brewing your own craft kombucha, well worth the time, effort and minimal money involved, so I encourage you to explore this, just as I encourage all cannabis users to grow their own cannabis.
I will give you a quick snap shot of making your own home brewed booch.
I don’t recommend using metal or plastic containers and encourage sterility and best sanitation possible
This is one of many recipes, so explore away and let me know when you find your favorite recipe!
- Take 3 ½ quarts of boiled water
- Add 1 cup of organic sugar (sugar of your choice: cane, molasses, honey, maple, agave) and 8 organic tea bags (I prefer green tea). Let steep, covered with a lid, until it reaches room temperature (your sugar tea I call it)
Kombucha does have caffeine, minimal in comparison to a typical cup of coffee, maybe about a quarter of the amount, but for someone who doesn’t ever have caffeine, like me, it is noteworthy.
- Add two cups of pre-made organic kombucha (called your starter liquid) to your sugar tea
- Transfer all of this into your glass storage jar (or jars, knowing that you will need one SCOBY for each jar), add your SCOBY and cover securely with tightly woven cloth (organic muslin works great, even a natural unbleached coffee filter or paper towel will do)
- Leave the jar in a dark place for 7-10 days
Temperature plays an important role in bacterial growth. Fermentation is a bit quicker in warmer temperatures and slower in colder. The cabinet above fridge works great as it tends to be a bit warmer (shooting for 75-85 degrees).
And then your experiment slowly begins…
- After a week or so, start taste testing it daily. Be absolutely sure to adhere to cleanliness and sanitation standards during tasting. Fermentation typically takes a week or two, but can be up to a month if you desire. When it is the perfect balance of sweet and tart that your palate fancies, it is ready to be bottled.
- First, you will want to get a new sugar tea mix prepared to make your next batch of kombucha.
- You will siphon two cups from the top of this original batch of kombucha for the next starter liquid, and remove the SCOBY to immediately reuse for the next batch.
- As you bottle your kombucha, be sure to use clean or sterile bottles and leave some room at the top for carbonation. Some people like to strain the liquid before bottling, but it isn’t necessary.
- Store the bottles for 1 to 3 days at room temp and out of the sunlight. Carbonation and fermentation will continue until it is refrigerated. Refrigerate when you have reached the desired carbonation and enjoy your booch within the next month.
- Start round two of kombucha crafting with your prepared sugar tea, your 2 cups of new starter liquid and your reusable SCOBY!
Kombucha can be made in a classic natural flavor or with added flavoring, spices or fruit juice such as vanilla, ginger, cayenne, blueberries, pineapples and lemon for lemonade.
And yes, of course, you can and should add cannabis, and make this amazing drink, that much more amazing!
You can easily add organic cannabis when you are making your original sugar tea. Just add in cannabis tea bags or loose leaf and flower cannabis in tea bags along with your green or black tea. You can strain it out later.
You can also purchase hemp tea bags for a CBD flower kombucha, or make your own tea bags with your own organic loose leaf hemp, hemp flower, or THC cannabis by grinding up dried flowers and leaves and stuffing your own reusable muslin bags. You can decarboxylate the flower first if you so wish.
You can also replace your sugar for the tea mix with some form of cannabis-infused sugar.
So pick up a glass, and make a toast to cannabis kombucha! Happy Booch day to you and yours.