When I was working hard to recover from a chronic immune-system deficiency, my naturopath recommended that I obtain and cultivate Kombucha tea. Although I looked at him with my forehead creased up, I was willing to do anything I needed to recover my health. Thus began my relationship with the Manchurian Mushroom, or Kombucha tea.
As far back as 250 BC, the use of this drink for health is recorded in medical manuals in China. Fermented from a ‘starter’, or culture, it was used to aid digestive issues, and balance the energy of the body. Although the ancient Chinese did not know it, they were using a beverage whose consumption would endure for centuries, eventually becoming a world-wide tool for healers.
It was the Russians and Ukrainians in the 1800’s who named the culture a ‘tea mushroom’. When viewing and handling the culture, it is easy to see why. It looks and feels like a large, flat mushroom, but it is actually a colony of beneficial bacterial and yeasts. This symbiotic colony utilizes a base made from brewed tea and sugar to produce by-products that may be beneficial to the human body. These include organic acids, living enzymes, polyphenols, B-vitamins, amino acids, and anti-microbial acids. The levels of these concentrations vary slightly by batch, but are consistently present in correctly brewed ‘tea’. Some of these, such as L-Theanine (which raises serotonin levels), are unquestionable beneficial to the body. Overall, enthusiasts report benefits for a variety of immune-system related afflictions such as Lupus, MS, Fibro-myalgia, and arthritis to name a few.
I know that the regular brewing and consumption of the Kombucha seemed to genuinely help my condition. Beyond giving me simple relief from bloating, gas and constipation, I also had more energy and generally felt calmer and experienced less pain. In my mind, there was no doubt that adding it in to my regimen of healthy diet and reasonable exercise boosted my overall recovery.
A great recipe for making your own Kombucha can be found at: Make Kombucha Tea. This site on Kombucha has some great information. The recipe may look intimidating, but I assure you it is not (the hardest part is just getting the ingredients from the store!) If you decide to try this, there are several things to keep in mind:
1. The recipe is ancient: don’t mess with it!. Using anything but a glass container can contaminate your tea. Using ingredients that are not proscribed is a no-no You can alter the content of the finished product so that its value is lessened or neutralized, and you can kill your ‘mushroom’.
2. When looking for a starter mushroom, call the local health food stores first. Someone may be brewing tea and offering starters locally. (Every time a batch of tea completes, it makes another mushroom that is separated from the mother culture and can also be used to make tea).
3. If you are brewing, offer your extra starters to others, either through the health food stores or by pinning up a note at the local library, etc. If you end up with more mushrooms than you can use or give away, bury them beneath your trees or other plants. Plants love the Kombucha starters!
4. The sweet, slightly fermented taste may require a few exposures before you enjoy it, but it is worth giving yourself the time to learn to like it. (I liked it right away)
5. Making tea the first time seems awkward and time-consuming. However, after 2-3 times, the process is much simpler and will eventually take only a few minutes of your time each week.
6. The ready-made Kombucha tea in bottles, or the Kombucha tea bags, may seem like a good alternative, but I have serious doubts as to the viability of these products. In order to get the benefits from the tea, the enzymes and anti-microbials need to be alive and active. I don’t know how that would happen once the beverage is pasturized and bottled. Also, a tea bag has no live culture and produces a non-fermented beverage so, once again, I can’t see how it can have any resembalance to the real product.
Ready to order your own starter kit and get healthy today? Click HERE!