Kombucha (Part 1) – My Experience
You see it in grocery stores and gas stations, you hear it floating around as a healthy.
It’s a fermented food option to help restore good gut microbes; it’s Kombucha.
My experience with making my own Kombucha:
I’ve spent the past year immersed in listening to Montreal Healthy Girl and Naturopath Brittany Auerbach on her youtube channel (link). She highly recommends fermented foods, water kefirs, homemade kombucha and the like for restoring gut balance. My own Functional Nutritionist from Zen Functional Wellness (link) has recommended fermented foods to me several times. My Mom’s had tremendous success brewing her own kombucha and adding it to her dietary routine. She believes it’s helping her heal her ulcerative colitis. Store purchased kombucha options frequently have additives, sugar and other ingredients I react too, like most of them are made with black tea.
Additionally I’m broke - which means I can’t afford every healer, test, fancy resolution I’d like. It also means tons of self education, reading, YouTube channel learning and internet research. Ideally I’d like to avoid antibiotics because of the damage they cause to the gut microbes and starting from scratch is never easy. I know from my last gut panel test, done through Rocky Mountain Natural Medicine (link) that I wasn’t nearly as high in bad guys, but was certainly lacking good guys needed to aid in the natural digestive flow. Additionally the test should high levels of gut inflammation which is further indication of celiacs. These could be reasons why I’m still experiencing IC like symptoms. My healers proceeded to tell me, try probiotics and fermented foods, get your gut inflammation down and treat your gluten allergy like extreme celiacs.
This is really solid advice, but how do I implement it? Having thought myself to be gluten free, with regular attempts to take allergen safe probiotics I decided it was time to try something new.
Before I had done my research, my Mom was beyond on board and excited for me. She sent me home almost immediately with 2 ½ gallon jugs filled with Green Tea Kombucha. I knew there was bacteria. What I didn’t realize was the brew consisted of something called a scoby. My mom called them her little friends which I thought was cute until it came time to play with my little friends. The child within panicked when I’d brought this concoction home. How do I touch it? What does it feel like? Is this really something I should try?
At first thought of making my own I was optimistic. My mother has had tremendous success by adding a daily kombucha tea to her diet.
That first night when I attempted to do a continuous brew transition, start a new batch while flavoring the current batch and sending the current batch into a second fermentation state for carbonation, I cried my eyes out. I panicked when it came time to do it. Did I wait to long to add the sugar? Should I have added it right after making the tea? Will it be okay if I didn’t add the sugar until later? Did I do enough sugar? Did I do too much? The negative self talk then kicked in. “This is stupid, you’re stupid, you ruin everything, you’ll never heal.”
I was scared of messing it up. I was scared of trying something new. I was also scared of making myself more sick.
My boyfriend attempted to offer solace and recommended I scrap it, saying “Don’t do something that makes you this uncomfortable.”
I am desperate for healing, but also up against a wall of my own inner ick and a belief I’m not competent enough to heal myself. I’m working on changing that so I decided to face my fears and try something new.
The following day, I pulled on my big girl pants for a second attempt, hush child, let the adult handle today’s tasks. Grabbed some tongs, woman’d the fuck up and I brewed my fucking kombucha tea. (See below for the continuous batch process I’ve been following).
The feeling of success was short lived as another obstacle appeared in my mind. To drink it. It’s bacteria, freaked me out for a couple reasons:
- A hesitation with the type of yeast because my food sensitivity testing said I was reacting to baker’s and brewer's yeast (but that’s not really what kombucha is and I know that now).
- I could see the little bits of yeast like bacteria floating around in the master brew.
This should be good for me, a phone call to Mom and she told me she drinks it all right up. Why am I always in my own damn way?
Maybe my imagination pictured them more lively and swimming around. You don’t see shit like that at all, maybe some stringy looking yeast, but nothing to be afraid of. Why is brewing and drinking your own so different than buying something at the store? Well the store bought brands generally flavor after the fact with sugar and other natural flavorings but in a way that’s strained out any visual bits so it’s more aesthetically appealing and sugar filled addicting.
When you’re making your own, you see the scoby. The Scoby is the live culture and it’s a good thing but it’s gross looking and weird for me to think about. You don’t have to but can touch it with super clean hands(not antibacterial soap, just hot water and vinegar clean). I couldn’t do that so grabbed the tongues.
I started drinking one bottle. They spent the night in the fridge. OMFG it’s not carbonated. Should it be? Is this bad? I turn to my mothers expertise and trusty youtube. This is when I find out there’s a 2nd fermentation process Mommykins skips because she doesn’t like the bubbles. Luckily several videos said either way is good I decide to take my friends out of the fridge and leave them on the counter overnight. We will see what happens.
After the first batch attempt, I learned that if you skip a second fermentation, the flavoring fermentation it’s not bubbly like store bought. However, if you flavor it and leave it out on your counter for 2-3 days it’ll start to produce bubbles.
Batch 2 was much smoother.
The second batch I attempted to leave out your air tight jars to make it fizzy. It’s drinkable either way, but carbonation is something I often miss so I’d love a fizzy drink option that won’t have negative side effects on my bladder.
A word of warning I’ve heard but not experiences is to be careful if with a second ferment and learn the process over time because the carbonation can cause glass bottles to explode, however frequent checking (every 24 hours for me) can keep pressure from building too much.
Another warning I learned was to be careful about the water and how jars are cleaned. So I’ve taken to cleaning all my kombucha supplies with apple cider vinegar and hot filtered water. I have an Auasana filtration system setup in my home.
I did it! I bottled the Kombucha, I got a new batch going, I’m letting it ferment in the pantry. I marked 1 week out from my calendar for a new batch and 3 days for the current batch in the 2nd fermentation process to go from counter to fridge. (I’ll be straining chunks out first.)
Batch 3 started to feel like routine, until I left it in each of the two fermentation stages for too long. Everything got a vinegar taste so I’ve scrapped that batch and started fresh. This entire process has been a learning experience. One that I’m grateful I took. I do believe I’ve had some positive changes in my IC symptoms. My body’s been spasming less, there’s been less uncomfortable pelvic swelling and pain. I’m not saying it’s a cure, but I do believe for me it was another, necessary step in my natural healing journey.
........(cont'd in Part 2)