Kombucha: A Timeless Brew for Gut Health and Wellness

A gallon jar of sea buckthorn and green tea Kombucha on a table with white lilac flower next to the jar.

A Brief History of Kombucha

Centuries before we could identify probiotic microbes with microscopes, people were fermenting foods and drinks for preservation purposes and health benefits, from the days of Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder to 19th-century scientist Ilya Ilyich Metchnikoff, who were known to prescribe sour milk to cure intestinal issues and as a treatment for old age.

Kombucha’s history dates back over 2,000 years to ancient China, where it was known as the “Tea of Immortality.” The exact origins are somewhat murky, but it is believed to have been first brewed during the Qin Dynasty around 221 BCE. The beverage made its way to Japan and Russia over the centuries, where it was revered for its purported health benefits. It was called “tea kvass” in Eastern Europe and became a staple in many households.

The Modern-Day Resurgence

Kombucha has seen a significant resurgence in popularity in the last decade, driven by a growing interest in health and wellness. Several factors contribute to this modern-day revival:

  1. Increased Awareness of Gut Health: Today, there is a greater understanding of the importance of gut health in overall well-being. The role of probiotics in supporting a healthy digestive system has led many to seek out fermented foods and beverages.
  2. Natural and Organic Trends: As consumers move away from processed foods and seek natural, organic alternatives, kombucha fits perfectly into this trend. Its ingredients are simple and natural, aligning with the preferences of health-conscious individuals.
  3. DIY Culture: The rise of DIY culture and interest in home fermentation projects have made kombucha brewing a popular hobby. People enjoy the process of making their own beverages and experimenting with different flavours and ingredients.
  4. Functional Beverages: Kombucha is considered a functional beverage, meaning it offers health benefits beyond basic nutrition. This category of drinks has grown in popularity as consumers look for more than just hydration from their beverages.
Top,View,Of,Bottled,Tea,And,Kombucha,Mushrooms,In,Hands

Why You Should Ferment Kombucha at Home

Fermenting homemade kombucha with herbal teas and natural fruit juices, such as sea buckthorn, provides a host of health benefits. Here’s why you should consider brewing your own kombucha:

  1. Probiotics for Gut Health: Kombucha is rich in probiotics, which support a healthy gut microbiome. This can improve digestion, boost the immune system, and enhance nutrient absorption.
  2. Lower Sugar Content: The fermentation process reduces the sugar content in kombucha, making it a healthier alternative to regular fruit juice.
  3. Detoxification and Antioxidants: Kombucha helps detoxify the liver and enhances the body’s antioxidant levels, combating oxidative stress and inflammation.

The Impact on Gut and Brain Health

Gut Health: Kombucha’s probiotics contribute to a balanced gut microbiome, which is essential for efficient digestion and nutrient absorption. A healthy gut can also reduce gastrointestinal issues like bloating and constipation.

Brain Health: The gut-brain axis plays a significant role in mental health. Probiotics in kombucha can influence this connection by producing neurotransmitters like serotonin, which can improve mood and cognitive function. A healthy gut can thus have a positive impact on mental well-being, potentially reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The specific strains found in kombucha can vary depending on the tea used, the sugar content, and the fermentation conditions. However, some of the most commonly identified probiotic strains in kombucha include:

Common Probiotic Strains in Kombucha

  1. Acetobacter
    • Acetobacter xylinum: Known for its role in producing cellulose, which forms the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) matrix.
    • Acetobacter aceti: Involved in the oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid, giving kombucha its distinctive tangy taste.
  2. Gluconacetobacter
    • Gluconacetobacter xylinus: Plays a significant role in the production of acetic acid and the development of the SCOBY. It helps convert ethanol to acetic acid, contributing to kombucha’s sour flavour.
  3. Lactobacillus
    • Lactobacillus brevis: Produces lactic acid and contributes to the sour taste of kombucha. It also has potential health benefits, such as improving digestion and enhancing immune function.
    • Lactobacillus plantarum: Known for its ability to survive in the acidic environment of the gut, it can support digestion and help maintain a balanced gut microbiome.
  4. Saccharomyces
    • Saccharomyces cerevisiae: A type of yeast that ferments sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide, contributing to the fizziness of kombucha. It also plays a role in producing vitamins and other bioactive compounds.
    • Saccharomyces boulardii: This strain is known for its probiotic properties, such as supporting gut health and protecting against gastrointestinal infections.
  5. Brettanomyces
    • Brettanomyces bruxellensis: A wild yeast that contributes to the complex flavours of kombucha. It can produce acetic acid and other organic acids.
  6. Zygosaccharomyces
    • Zygosaccharomyces bailii: A robust yeast that can tolerate high acidity and alcohol levels, helping to stabilize the fermentation process.
Close,Up,Photo,Of,Sea,Buckthorn,Berries,And,Lemon,AndBlackberries

Benefits of Using Sea Buckthorn Herbal Tea for Brewing Kombucha

Using sea buckthorn herbal tea in kombucha boosts its nutritional value, enhances its flavour and aroma, and provides additional health benefits, making it a powerful and delicious health drink. Sea buckthorn is rich in vitamins C, E, and A and antioxidants, enhancing kombucha’s nutritional profile while offering anti-inflammatory properties that support the immune system. Its high levels of vitamins and fatty acids contribute to healthier skin and its digestive health benefits aid in promoting a healthy gut environment. The tart, citrusy flavour of sea buckthorn adds a refreshing tang and balances the natural acidity of kombucha, creating a more complex taste. Additionally, sea buckthorn enhances the aroma, increases the antioxidant content, and can be used in various recipes, adding a unique flavour and nutritional boost.

Recipe Idea Using Sea Buckthorn Herbal Tea

Sea Buckthorn Kombucha

Ingredients:

For a 1-gallon batch of kombucha (16 US Cups)

  • 1 SCOBY with 1 1/2 cup of starter liquid
  • 15 cups (ideally filtered) water
  • 6-8 bags of tea (recommended is green or oolong tea)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sea buckthorn juice
  • 1/2 cup Sea Buckthorn Tea
  • Optional: fresh herbs or aromatics (e.g., ginger, mint)

Instructions:

  1. Boil the water, then simmer the sea buckthorn tea for 20 minutes.
  2. Add tea bags for 10 minutes.
  3. With a fine filter, strain out the sea buckthorn and the tea bags and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Let the sweetened tea cool to room temperature.
  4. Once cooled, pour the sweet tea into a large glass jar.
  5. Gently place the SCOBY and starter liquid into the jar.
  6. Cover the jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band. Let it sit at room temperature for 7-10 days, tasting periodically until it reaches your desired level of fermentation.
  7. Once fermented, remove the SCOBY with 1 1/2 cups of kombucha and set it aside for your next batch. 
  8. Add the sea buckthorn juice and fresh aromatics, and pour the remaining kombucha into bottles
  9. You can choose to either refrigerate or ferment the kombucha a second time (roughly four days). Lightly burp your fermenting liquid daily. 
  10. Store your bottles in the refrigerator and enjoy.
  11. Share with friends!
 
Two glasses of sea buckthorn kombucha on a white table with sea berries in surrounding background

Serving Ideas:

  • Enjoy chilled as a refreshing beverage.
  • Use as a base for smoothies or cocktails.
  • Mix with sparkling water for a fizzy drink alternative.

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BENEFITS

With 70% of our immune system residing in our gut, what we put into it, counts! Sea buckthorn juice is known to help achieve balanced nutrient intake, cold and flu resistance and increased energy levels.  It’s inflammation reducing antioxidants help athletes fight body fatigue, and the balanced Omegas fatty acids 3 – 6,  7* & 9, are considered to have a clear role in the prevention and healing of certain Atopic disorders.

 

RECIPE IDEAS

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