Kombucha – Ingredients and Effects of the Kombucha Scoby
Ingredients and Effects of the Kombucha Tea Mushroom (Scoby)
The Ingredients of Kombucha
In Asia and Europe, Kombucha is traditionally seen and used as food that harmonizes our body and metabolism. The finished Kombucha drink is naturally full of goodness such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, organic acids and important trace elements.
Depending on the type of preparation, the ingredients of your Kombucha drink can vary considerably: origin of your scoby, used tea, room temperature, water quality, fermentation time, type and amount of sugar, and many other factors have great impact on the final formula of your Kombucha drink. A classical Kombucha drink following our basic Kombucha recipe shows an other variety of ingredients than Kombucha made of Mate oder Kombucha made of herbal teas.
Exact quantities of the ingredients cannot be given since they are subject to individual fluctuations that are common to an all-natural product like our Kombucha scoby. Therefore we cannot guarantee that your ready fermented Kombucha will contain certain ingredients in certain quantities for legal reasons.
In the following, we have listed some of the ingredients that have been attested for Kombucha drinks.
Featured bacteria and yeast strains in the Kombucha mushroom:
- Acetobacter xylinum
- Acetobacter xylinoides
- Gluconobacter oxydans
- Saccharomyces ludwigii
- Saccharomyces apiculatus
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast)
They can produce the following ingredients in your Kombucha drink:
Valuable organic acid:
- Glucuronic acid
- Gluconic acid
- Dextrorotatory (L+) lactic acid
- Acetic acid
- Tartaric acid
- Folic acid
- Oxalic acid
- Usnic acid
- Traces of succinic, malic, malonic and citric acid
Essential trace elements and minerals:
- Cobalt and other minerals
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Furthermore: 14 different amino acids, vital enzymes, tannins, the ferments invertase, amylase, catalase, sucrase, as well as rennet and a proteolytic ferment, antibiotic substances, alcohol, and carbon acid (carbon dioxide).
An additional component that may be found in Kombucha is usnic acid which is usually obtained from lichens. It is assumed that the tea fungus actually produces this acid in order to protect itself from other microorganisms.
Although Kombucha tea tastes sour, our body treats the tea alkaline due to its ingredients – just like e.g. vegetable juices or root vegetables such as beetroot and potatoes.
If you want to find out more about the possible effects of Kombucha, we recommend that you consult the applicable literature and also that you get in touch with your health care professional, nutritionist or doctor for individual advise on the consumption of Kombucha drinks.
As manufacturer and direct distributor of organic Kombucha, we are strictly prohibited to make any statements about the possible health effects of Kombucha drinks. Every single statement by us would need to be documented by elaborate and expensive medical studies – which we cannot afford given that we are only a small workshop for the “organic” life style. Large food corporations have no interest in such studies because traditional beverages such as Kombucha cannot be patented or otherwise legally protected. This is actually the same reason why nowadays many other traditional natural remedies are also offside: The “small ones” may not afford the required studies and the “big ones” have no interest because this market is not open for patents anyway.
How Much Kombucha May I Drink?
- Just drink as much Kombucha as you like and as much as does you good. Kombucha is a live culture-infused drink made from simple, all-natural ingredients with no set upper limit for consumption. You may find recommendations like 3 x 0.1 liter or 2 x 0.2 liter a day but many people drink much more without problems – whatever you like best. Please note, however, that the finished kombucha contains caffeine (depending on the tea used) and also some sugar. The sugar content decreases with the fermentation time.
- Always listen to your body and its signals. The more acidic the fermentation, the more Kombucha stimulates digestion. Kombucha is not a bitter medicine you have to force yourself onto but an enjoyable, aromatic food for discovering, trying out and experimenting.
- It is important that you start slowly with new drink so that your body can get used to it. Just start with 3 shot glasses a day and then slowly increase the amount.
- It is often recommended to have some on an empty stomach first and then the rest together with a meal later on. Single substances of the Kombucha are better accepted by an empty stomach whereas others are being digested rather slowly.
- Sometimes it is offered as a treatment plan so that you will not get used to the ingredients that much. The plan is to drink Kombucha for 6 weeks with a break of 6 weeks in turn. But nevertheless, most people drink Kombucha permanently.
Does Kombucha also have side effects?
- The very healthy ingredients that we want to consume with Kombucha, especially the organic acids such as lactic acid and live yeasts, can also lead to unpleasant side effects for some people. Especially if your body is not yet familiar with Kombucha or if you drink a very large amount, it can easily have a laxative effect or lead to stomach pain.
- It therefore makes sense to start carefully, with 100 ml or less of Kombucha, and wait to see how you tolerate it individually. If you drink a glass regularly, you and your microbiome will quickly get used to the unfamiliar new stimuli for your stomach and intestines.
- It is also advisable not to consume Kombucha with a heavy meal. When your body is at full capacity digesting fat and protein, it is easier to to get a stomach ache if you also drink Kombucha at the same time. It's better to drink Kombucha 30 minutes before a feast to activate the gastrointestinal tract - for example as a delicious Kombucha Switchel, which contains other great ingredients that promote digestion: ginger, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
Attention, Science! What is Kombucha and how does it work ?
As we have seen, the "secret" of Kombucha is mainly based on its numerous biologically active ingredients, especially the various organic acids and yeasts. Some of these natural ingredients also come from the initial components themselves (used tea and raw cane sugar). But how can the microorganisms in the Kombucha scoby produce further elements?
The Kombucha scoby from Wellness-Drinks succeeds in transforming the tea into a delicious power drink within a few days by means of complicated fermentation and related processes. At first, this sounds much more exceptional than it actually is. Important foods such as beer, wine and bread are produced by the fermentation of yeast fungi and man has always used the acidification of useful bacterial cultures to make food durable and healthy ever since – just think of cheese, yogurt, vinegar, sauerkraut and or the spicy Korean kimchi. Kombucha tea itself tastes a bit sour but counts like lemon juice or cider vinegar to alkaline food.
The Secret of Kombucha Fermentation
Kombucha is similar to other fermented and acidified foods. Its special feature is that it consists of a multitude of different yeast cultures and bacterial strains living in a natural symbiosis (community, biocenosis) in which everyone benefits the other. This fingerprint also applies to the original Kefir and Water Kefir. We have summarized how you ensure a successful acidification of your Kombucha culture medium in our dedicated article “Kombucha and pH-Values”[GERMAN PAGE].
You may imagine the interplay of mutual benefits as follows: The yeasts supply the bacteria with essential nutrients and ferment the sugar into alcohol. The alcohol is then turned by the bacteria into organic acids and other ingredients. This acidification is very important for the survival of the tea fungus itself because it means that no other microorganism can go viral in there. Only the acid-resistant yeasts and bacteria of the tea fungus can prosper in the acidified milieu they have carefully worked out in their long-term partnership.
The Kombucha partnership itself also lives in another symbiosis – with us humans. Although all types of its bacteria and yeasts are also found in nature, their unique alliance only exists with human care (as known so far). The Kombucha scoby would die without our support. Just a coincidence or lucky find very long ago led to its emergence and the Kombucha recipe – and to the fact that people recognized its refreshing and vitalizing effect.
Within a few days and through complicated metabolic processes, the bacteria in the tea produce a solid-leathery mass consisting of pure cellulose. This is the actual tea mushroom which usually floats on top of the drink. By time, it covers the whole surface where it grows to a more solid layer becoming several centimeters thick. It gets the shape of an elastic, whitish disc and looks like a thick pancake. Depending on the tea used, it may also be pink or light beige in color.
While at work, the Kombucha scoby induces several complex reactions in your tea (processes of assimilation and dissimilation). Especially the sugar is almost fully transformed into organic acids; some small amount of alcohol is also produced. The alcohol volume is only a minor 0.5 % - no more than in the so called alcohol-free beer or some selected fruit juices.
List of sources (scientific and popular science publications)
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