The Benefits of Kombucha

Benefits of Kombucha- is it a health tonic or dangerous

There are many benefits attributed to Kombucha – an age-old fermented tea drink that has been around (in various forms) for centuries in many different cultures.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a traditional fermented drink made of black tea and sugar. It contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and has been prized by traditional cultures for its health-promoting properties.

More specifically, Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented with a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to become a nutrient-rich beverage. The fermentation process takes 7-12 days depending on temperature and the strength of the SCOBY. The SCOBY consumes over 90% of the sugar during fermentation, resulting in a low-sugar finished product. This process is similar to what would happen in sourdough bread or milk/water kefir.

Once a very obscure drink, Kombucha is now a popular beverage that is available at most health food stores and many local grocery stores. Many people also brew at home using various methods including the batch method and continuous brew.

The SCOBY: a Colony of Microbes

The SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, is the collection of microbes responsible for turning sweet tea into a probiotic beverage. Essentially, it is a living colony of beneficial organisms that turn sugar into healthful acids and probiotics.

SCOBYs are often called “Mushrooms” and are the reason Kombucha is sometimes called “Mushroom Tea.” On a practical level, a SCOBY is an unattractive rubbery disc that covers the surface of the brewing liquid to seal it off from the air. This allows fermentation to happen in an anaerobic (air free) environment.

You may also hear a SCOBY called “The Mother” as it is the parent culture that creates the tea. During the brewing process, the SCOBY also often creates a “baby” or secondary culture on top of itself, which can then be used to brew other batches.

If properly taken care of, a SCOBY can last for many years. In fact, I know a couple of families that have generations-old strains of SCOBYs that have made many babies over the years.

What is a SCOBY- symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast

Kombucha Nutrition

As mentioned, this tangy fermented beverage contains beneficial probiotics and acids. It is lower-calorie than other carbonated beverages like soft drinks, with only about 30 calories per cup (8 ounces). Kombucha is fat-free and does not contain any protein.

One cup does contain about seven grams of carbohydrates and about 20% of the daily value of B-Vitamins, according to the label of the popular GT brand. Eight ounces also provides:

  • Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086: 1 billion organisms
  • S. Boulardii: 1 billion organisms
  • EGCG 100mg
  • Glucuronic Acid 10mg
  • L(+) Lactic Acid 25mg
  • Acetic Acid 30 mg

Kombucha Nutrition Facts

What Does it Taste Like?

This fermented tea has a slightly sweet and slightly tangy flavor, reminiscent of a shrub or vinegar based drink. The flavor varies widely by brand and homebrew method. Finished kombucha tea can also be flavored in a process called secondary fermentation by adding juices, fruit or herbs.

Kombucha Benefits and Probiotics

This ancient health tonic is attributed with several health benefits. The nutrients it contains are wonderful at supporting the body in various ways. It is important to note that while there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from avid supporters, studies about kombucha are lacking. But then again, so are studies about flossing, but everyone seems to be pro-flossing.

To be clear- it isn’t some magic pill or silver bullet, but it may help the body function well by supporting:

  • Liver detoxification
  • Improved pancreas function
  • Increased energy
  • Better digestion
  • Improved mood (helps with anxiety/depression)
  • Reducing Candida (yeast)
  • Helps nutrient assimilation
  • May be beneficial for weight loss

These benefits could be partially due to the concentration of beneficial enzymes and acids present in kombucha, including  Gluconacetobacter, Lactobacillus and Zygosaccharomyces.

1. Improving Digestion

The research is still out on the specific way Kombucha affects digestion, but we do know that it contains probiotics, enzymes and beneficial acids and these have been researched for their health benefits.

Harvard Medical School explains that a healthy gut will have 100 trillion + microorganisms from 500 different identified species. In this sense, we truly are more bacterial than human. There has been a lot of emerging research on the dangers of an overly sanitary environment and how overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps and products is literally changing the structure of our gut.

Drinks like Kombucha, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut contain billions of these beneficial bacteria, enzymes and acids that help keep the gut in balance.

2. Natural Detoxification and Liver Support

The liver is one of the body’s main detoxification organs. Kombucha is high in Glucaric acid, which is beneficial to the liver and aids its natural detoxification.

As Kombucha also supports healthy gut bacteria and digestion, it helps the body assimilate food more easily and provides quick and easy energy without caffeine.

3. Immune Boost

Kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants and supportive of the immune system. Again, there is no magic pill or silver bullet when it comes to immune function- it is best to support the body in its natural immune process.

It contains a compound called D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (or DSL for short) that has amazing antioxidant properties. This compound is not present in unfermented teas (though many teas are high in other antioxidants). DSL has been specifically identified as beneficial for cellular detoxification.

4. May Support Joint Health

Kombucha is a natural source of compounds called glucosamines, which are often recommended for joint health and to alleviate joint pain. Glucosamines naturally increase hyaluronic acid in the body and helps protect and lubricate the joints. In some trials, hyaluronic acid provided relief similar to over the counter pain killers.

5. More Nutritious Alternative to Soda

Kombucha is a great alternative to sugar-laden drinks like soda. It is naturally carbonated. This means that the secondary fermentation process naturally produces bubbles and carbonation. Sodas, on the other hand, are artificially carbonated by forcing carbonation into the liquid.

This fizzy fermented tea is an attractive alternative to other carbonated beverages and provides probiotics and nutrients not present in soda. Kombucha also contains less sugar than soft drinks. The sugar in the recipe is simply the food for the beneficial bacteria and is largely consumed during the fermentation process.

Important Caveat About The Benefits

I originally wrote about this age-old brewed tea drink years ago, and since that time, I’ve seen thousands of posts claiming it cures everything from cancer to wrinkles. It is important to note that there are no confirmed studies about kombucha’s benefits and safety.

At the same time, there are anecdotal reports of its benefits and many people love its taste and the energy it gives them. Don’t expect kombucha to solve your health problems, but it is a great refreshing drink with some added probiotics.

The benefits of kombucha- digestion - immune support-detoxification-weightloss

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Kombucha

I love this ancient fermented tea and drink it often, but there are some cautions and side effects to be aware of when consuming it.

Kombucha Risks and Cautions

  • Pregnant and nursing moms and anyone with a medical condition should check with a doctor before consuming. It contains both caffeine and sugar, which should be limited during pregnancy.
  • Some people experience bloating from drinking it. This may in part be due to the presence of probiotics and potential changes in gut bacteria. Anyone with a digestive disorder should consult a doctor before consuming.
  •  If kombucha is made incorrectly, it may contain harmful bacteria and could be dangerous. This is rare but is more common with home brews.
  • Preparing kombucha in a ceramic vessel may be dangerous as the acidic brew can leach any lead from this vessel into the finished drink.

Oral Health Concerns

The most logical concern I’ve seen with Kombucha is its potential to cause dental problems. Since it is high in natural acids (but still lower than most sodas) it can be harmful to the teeth. OraWellness wrote a great article on the specific way kombucha affects teeth and how to consume it without harming your teeth.

These steps may also help reduce the potential for the acids in kombucha to affect teeth: drink it all in one sitting, don’t sip it throughout the day, and swish with clean water (don’t brush) right after.

Caffeine Content

The base for kombucha is black tea, and some people have concerns about its caffeine content. The amount of caffeine in kombucha varies quite a bit based on the type of tea used and the steep time. In general, it is considered to have less caffeine than soda or coffee. Caffeine content also decreases during fermentation, so the longer the ferment, the less caffeine typically left in the brew.

If caffeine is a concern, there are several ways to reduce the caffeine content:

  1. Use a mixture of teas with as little as 20% black tea and lower caffeine teas like green or white to make up the difference.
  2. Try herbal teas along with 20% black tea since herbal teas are caffeine free.
  3. Dump the first steep of the tea and use the second for kombucha. In other words, steep the tea bags or leaves you will use for kombucha in a cup of boiling water for about two minutes. Then, pour this liquid out and then add the tea to the liquid you plan to use to make kombucha. Since the majority of the caffeine is removed during the initial steep, this greatly reduces the caffeine content of the finished product

It is generally not recommended to use decaffeinated tea for kombucha as the caffeine is often removed through a chemical process and the residue may kill the kombucha SCOBY.

Sugar Content

Sugar is used in making kombucha, and for this reason many people are concerned about the sugar content in the finished tea. Fortunately, the majority of the sugar ferments out during the fermentation process. Because the sugar is the food for the bacteria, it is not possible to make without any sugar at all. For this reason, sugar substitutes like stevia and xylitol do not work either.

Alcohol Content

Kombucha does contain a very small amount of alcohol, which has been a source of much controversy in recent years. Sources estimate that store bought brews contain 0.5% to 1.0% alcohol. To put this in perspective, a person would have to drink a six pack of kombucha to approach the alcohol in a single 12oz beer. In fact, a bottle of kombucha would have a comparable alcohol content to an over-ripe banana.

Store bought brew containing over 0.5% alcohol must be labeled as such and often an ID is required to purchase it. Homemade kombucha also typically contains more alcohol than store bought, though still not much.

How to Make Kombucha

If you decide to venture into the world of homebrewing kombucha, the process is simple, but nuanced. Check out this full tutorial for a full explanation of the process and other methods.

This is the Basic Process:

  1. Sterilize all equipment and wash hands thoroughly.
  2. Make 1 gallon of tea using black tea or a mixture of black tea with green/white tea or herbal teas.
  3. Add 1 cup of natural sugar. Honey is not recommended and other sugar substitutes do not work.
  4. Let the sweetened tea cool and place in a 1 gallon or larger glass jar.
  5. Add 1 cup of brewed raw kombucha (or 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar).
  6. Carefully place the SCOBY or “mother” on  top of the mixture, ideally floating it on top to seal the mixture off from air.
  7. If the SCOBY is not the same size as the container, don’t worry. It will grow to fill the container as it ferments.
  8. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth or piece of organic cloth and a rubber band.
  9. Let sit at room temperature for 7-12 days to desired tartness.
  10. Remove the SCOBY and 1 cup of finished kmobucha to start a new batch and repeat steps 1-9.
  11. If a fizzy finished drink is desired, pour finished kombucha into airtight jars or bottles and add organic juice or fresh/frozen fruit. Add 1 part juice/fruit to 4 parts kombucha.
  12. Cover tightly and let sit an additional 1-2 days until carbonated.
  13. Store in the refrigerator in airtight containers until consumed.

Where to Get a SCOBY and Supplies:

If you decide to make your own, it is important to get the SCOBY and supplies from a high-quality source. Find a local friend who already brews and ask for an extra SCOBY. I also highly recommend Kombucha Kamp, a small family-owner company run by my friend and affiliate partners Hannah and Alex. They carry SCOBYs, tea, sugar and all necessary supplies.

Where to Get Kombucha

Don’t want a jar of fermenting tea sitting on your counter perpetually? You’re in luck.

Kombucha has gained popularity in the US recently and is now available in many stores. There are dozens of really good brands and if you choose to buy it, just look for an organic variety without a large amount of sugar or added ingredients. Some of my favorite pre-made brands are:

Probiotic-Rich Kombucha Alternatives

As I mentioned, kombucha contains probiotics and beneficial acids, yet it also has some cautions and side effects. There are many other foods and drinks that are natural sources of probiotics and that don’t carry the same risks.

While kombucha is delicious, I’d also suggest branching out into other healthy probiotic foods and drinks like: sauerkraut, water kefir, beet kvass, or homemade ginger ale. These are all great probiotic foods to add to your diet:

Top Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet

Bottom Line

Many people love Kombucha because of its taste. The internet abounds with anecdotal stories of its benefits. Research doesn’t yet support its health-promoting properties, but it is generally considered safe to drink if from a reputable source.

We do know that it is a good source of probiotics, enzymes, and beneficial acids, and a decent source of B-vitamins. It can be made at home or found in many stores. It may not be a silver bullet for health, but it sure is tasty!

Like with any raw/fermented product, those with any health condition or who are pregnant/nursing should check with a doctor before consuming.

Kombucha Benefits and Facts Infographic

Sources:
R. Jayabalan, P. Subathradevi, S. Marimuthu, M. Sathishkumar, K. Swaminathan, Changes in free-radical scavenging ability of kombucha tea during fermentation, Food Chemistry, Volume 109, Issue 1, 1 July 2008, Pages 227-234, ISSN 0308-8146, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814607012940.
Sheng-Che Chu, Chinshuh Chen, Effects of origins and fermentation time on the antioxidant activities of kombucha, Food Chemistry, Volume 98, Issue 3, 2006, Pages 502-507, ISSN 0308-8146, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814605005364.
P. Semjonovs, I. Denina and R. Linde, 2014. Evaluation of Physiological Effects of Acetic Acid Bacteria and Yeast Fermented Non-alchocolic Beverage Consumption in Rat Model. Journal of Medical Sciences, 14: 147-152.
C. Dufresne, E. Farnworth, Tea, Kombucha, and health: a review, Food Research International, Volume 33, Issue 6, July 2000, Pages 409-421, ISSN 0963-9969, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996900000673.
Determination of D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone from brewed kombucha broth by high-performance capillary electrophoresis.

Do you drink it? Do you make it? Have you experienced any benefits from taking it? Share with below!

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Reader Comments

  1. I don’t drink tea for religious reasons. Does herbal tea work in your Kombucha recipe?

    • It has a lot of sugar so I can’t use it because I am sugar free acording to my Dr. Sugar is the worst thing you can put in your body

      • It is not high in sugar: the sugar is the food for the scoby

        • My husband is on a special diet for his gut and not allowed to have ANY sugar, honey, maple syrup, and quite a few different fruits that are high in sugar like grapes and bananas. But the doctor said to drink kombucha. I agree. From what I understand, the beneficial bacteria feeds on the sugar to the point that there isn’t sugar (or very little) by the time you consume it.

    • I be my kombucha in a crock (lead free) with a spigot. The spigot makes it super easy to bottle. Two of my favorite recipes are to use candied ginger when bottling. It takes just like ginger-ale. I also add chia seeds when bottling…be careful though they seem to increase the fermentation so they do bubble over more than most.

      From what I have read you can use just about any tea that you would like, except Earl Grey (it contains bergamot and will kill scabby).

      • What is scabby? Is it dangerous?

        • It’s called “scoby” and it’s not dangerous but very healthy. It looks like a mushroom but it hosts a colony of bacteria and yeast to make the Kombucha. The bacteria eats up all the sugar. Unless you were just being sarcastic and knew the other commenter misspelled scoby? lol

    • Read the article, under “caffeine content”.

    • I avoid kombucha, due to the alcohol content.

  2. How much/often Kombucha do you recommend while pregnant? I’m assuming that properly made kombucha doesn’t have caffeine or the folate blocking risks of regular black/green teas? I crave it so much, and I drank it a lot early on, but now i’m a little bit wary.

    • If brewed with traditional black tea it will have caffeine. Fermentation doesn’t lessen the caffeine amount. It is less then what a plain cup of tea would have but it’s still there. I brew my own and drink it but not during pregnancy mainly because I can’t handle it with my heartburn. Personally I think some of the claims are over stated here.

    • It’s safe during pregnancy it has antioxidants and folate which is needed for a healthy pregnancy. I took this before I was prego. I also like Braggs Apple cider vinegar they use Apple’s you might like that better. They guarantee the accuracy of the process and are reputable.

    • Hey lovely, I read another article about kombucha (recently purchased the drink and wanted to read up on it before I drank) but I think it said you should consult your Dr. first only because there isn’t a lot on research on it and expecting mommies.

  3. I drink the Gts brand and i buy the one with spirulina and algae in it i feel great drinking it. My question is is it safe for my 3 year old to drink it also? He loves it.

    • I watched a video on utube the other day and there was a mother talking to her 4 year old daughter as the little one ate a “scoby” fresh from the jar and has done it many times. No problem!

  4. What are the concerns of drinking this during pregnancy? Considering there are no other issues.
    Thanks, this is a really informative article and I might get my hubby onboard with it too!

    • I consumed during pregnancy but I was drinking it before that. There is some concern that it can cause a detox reaction that isn’t safe during pregnancy if you haven’t consumed it before.

  5. Can you purchase it? I don’t know that I have time or am brave enough to make it myself.

      • what would be considered “low sugar”? I’m new to kombucha and while I can see myself making it SOME day, that day is not today…so I want to be sure I’m buying a “good” one!

    • I buy mine @ our local Fresh Market grocery store.

  6. I have been making my own brew for a couple of months now. Could you give me some ideas on how you like to drink it? I really like it and my kids do to but I want to be able to switch it up now and again so we don’t get bored of it and stop drinking it. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    • i will take the scoby out and muddle some black berries and sage and let it sit for 2-3 days, then strain it and bottle it. I also like to take a large chunk of fresh ginger smash it a little and let it sit for 2-3 days. I recently made a green tea batch and when i bottled it i added a little honey, capped and shook it up until the honey dissolved. Pretty tasty

  7. I just wanted to add a note for anyone who suffers with yeast issues… When I started drinking Kombucha, my yeast infection, which I didnt realize I even had, flared up BADLY. However, I kept drinking it as I read somewhere that this reaction was positive as it was cleansing my system. Since then the infections have disappeared so I would really recommend Kombucha esp if you have yeast issues – just push through the initial reaction!

  8. I maintain 4 mothers in my kombucha farm, all started from a bottle of GTs many years ago. I drink 12-14 oz a day and I think it tastes better than any commercial brand. Simple and inexpensive to make.

  9. Great article Katie! I have heard conflicting info regarding kombuchas effect on candida. I am 10 months post partum, have been under a lot of stress in the past couple of months (a move, my 10 month old and 3 yr old getting whooping cough, and travel), and I am realizing I definitely have yeast issues. Stubborn toenail fungus, flakey scalp, itching all over my body, etc. Can you point me to some specific info on how it works against candida, despite the yeast and sugar it contains? I am doing the Primal Defense probiotic, eating about a half cup of fermented veggies a day, and /or drinking the fermented pickle juice, and drinking 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar on the days I remember. I know stress can aggravate fungus infections and adrenal fatigue has been an on and off issue for me for 7 yrs. Thank you in advance and thank you for all you do!!!

    • Your symptoms remind me of my symptoms before I self diagnosed my
      Thyroid condition (hypothyroidism). Have you had a thyroid panel blood
      test?

      I really enjoy coming to this website, thanks.

      (This is my first comment)

  10. Hi everyone! Just wondering if anyone has ever added co2 to their homemade kombucha? I have not have any luck getting bubbles with a second fermentation. Would love any knowledge that you can be passed on 🙂

    • When I bottle mine for the second stage fermentation, I add 1 teaspoon of sugar to my 1 litter flip top container. Wait 2-4 days, depending on temp in your home, and it comes out like champagne. But because your adding sugar you’ll start to form a mini scoby, I just filter as I pour so the little guy doesn’t get into my glass.

    • I used to have that problem as well in the second ferment. What fixed it for me was, after taking the SCOBY out, I stirred up the whole batch to get the sediment (yeast) distributed evenly throughout. I then bottled and after 3 days of second ferment with different flavours (I bottle the first ferment and the second ferment is done in individual bottles each individually flavoured) my Kombucha becomes super bubbly, so much so that some times its like opening a bottle of champagne. Hope this helps you out.

    • Make sure your second ferment jars are airtight. I use canning jars and was using plastic lids and getting no carbonation. I switched to the two part canning lids and that made a big difference.

  11. I just finished making my first batch of kombucha a couple of days ago and I love it! I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. I think I was a little intimidated by the process, but knowing how beneficial kombucha is, (thanks to you Wellness Mama!), I decided to take the plunge. My second batch is fermenting now. I just hope I did it correctly and that it turns out as well as the first batch did. I want that SCOBY to keep on going!

  12. Can this be done with herbal tea? no only can i not have caffeine, but i just plain dislike black and green teas i prefer mint or licorice teas, but any higher quality herbal tea is good 🙂

    • I’ve used mint tea or even flower teas in the past and it’s worked well!

    • I have learnt recently that black, white as well as green tea contains a lot of fluoride. So now I use rooibos tea.

  13. I have undergone extensive testing with a functional doctor for various issues I’ve been experiencing. When he heard I made and drank kombucha (have been for 3 years now), he said to go of it immediately as it was affecting my health based on tests. Said it was the worst thing anyone can drink. I was surprised and shocked, but since I went off, I do feel better and am functioning better. I did love it though.

    • hi Kathy,

      I am interested in the tests your doc ran. I know this is about 6 months old – hope you can help!

      I have made and drank kombucha for years – at least 10 – but have been experiencing bloating lately
      and wonder about the kombucha.
      thanks,
      Kathy

    • Weston Price says that kombucha is a tonic and shouldn’t be drunk as a drink. I can’t remember exactly what he recommends but it is just a few ounces.

  14. Is kombucha safe to drink while breast feeding?

  15. I’ve been making it for several months, drinking about 16 oz daily. I make mine with plain oolong tea. I tried adding various fruits, ginger, etc. but it turned nasty in that 2nd ferment. Now to each 16 oz bottle I add 1 tsp organic cane sugar, 1 1/2 tsp chia seed and 1/2 heaping tsp berry powder by Pure Synergy. It is the perfect fizzy brew every time. It has helped my digestion and colon issues tremendously. That & fermented foods daily.

  16. I brew my own and currently have my scobys in a hotel to start back up after my pregnancy. It’s too hard my heartburn and it made me feel weird when I became pregnant. I listened to my body and stopped it. I don’t think it’s dangerous as some people claim but nor do I think it’s as miraculous or as beneficial as this article claims. Many people have noticed weight gain due to the sugar as there is quite a bit left
    depending on how you brew and most people don’t brew it to the point that most would be consumed. The claim that 90% is consumed is highly misleading as you would need to test each batch to know this. There is a fb group Kombucha Nation that may be of interest to those interested in brewing their own.

  17. I’m looking on MRH website and they have so many types of black tea..which should I buy to make a good kombucha? What do u use?

  18. Thanks for a great article! I’ve tried making our own and we completely over fermented it and Carla got super sick (eeek!). BUT you’ve inspired us to try it out again! e + c

  19. I’ve been brewing my own kombucha for about 7 months now and drinking it daily. I know you said you drink kombucha when you are pregnant, but do you also still drink small amounts of coffee? Since I have no idea how much caffeine is in my kombucha I’m not sure if I can still swing a small cup of coffee during pregnancy in addition to the kombucha. Just wondering what your take was on that.

  20. Can you use coconut sugar for at home brews? I am trying to stay as paleo as possible to help with candida issues. If not, what about sugar in the raw? Thanks!

    • Yes you can!
      I have been using organic coconut sugar in my brews. It turns the color darker (more like caramel-like) but it tastes good.
      A tip: because coconut sugar takes longer to dissolve, I had been told to pre-dissolve in hot water first before adding to my jar (of course waiting for it to cool down: don’t want to hurt, burn, or cook my scoby)!
      I hope this helps!??

  21. Thank you Chantale! Super helpful….going to order my scoby right now 😀

  22. Ok, so I just started making kombucha and let my first batch ferment a little longer than a week. It’s been slightly cool in the house anyway. I separated out a second brew with cherry juice and ginger and it is growing stuff. Not sure if it is a baby scoby or something nasty. Not sure if I sure just filter it out or throw the whole thing out. Is this normal? I’m also a little concerned with some of the comments above about the doctor saying it was the worst thing anyone could drink. Since I am new to all this I don’t know how to determine if what I’m growing is beneficial or evil bacteria. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  23. So, I am very new to this and I may have messed up my scoby. I was told to use apple cider vinegar for my starter when I poured out my starter by mistake. I used the raw kind with the mother because this is what I drink. I am noticing my second brew has a lot of stuff growing in it. I looked through the different recipe options and saw that it was suppose to be pasteurized. Can I just pour everything out and start over with distilled vinegar and tea? Can my scoby be saved?

    • You can try to save it of course! The bacteria in ACV may have over run it but it may just take a few batches before it gets back to normal. Even when I’ve used white vinegar (my hotel was severely neglected & my starter dried up) it took awhile before my flavor & carbonation was back how I liked it. Your scoby takes on the yeast & bacteria in your environment anyway and that’s why no two people’s are the same. Mine tastes different then the person’s KT I obtained my mother from.
      your yeast & bacteria ratios may get off and that may need tweaking each batch. Even different amounts of tea (I can’t recall but I think its less) can allow yeast to overgrow-thats the brown stringy stuff.
      Scobys are very resilient! There is 2 FB groups i recommend, kombucha nation & wild fermentation. Hopefully it’s ok to post a link, this explains how to rehab your Scoby.
      http://users.bestweb.net/~om/kombucha_balance/

      • That explains the brown stringy growth. Thanks! I will research these sites.

  24. The new growths are baby scobies
    Do not worry about them. Every time I add ginger or fruit or fruit juice, and even on my tea bags, there is always a new formation of scobies.
    I always use tongs and remove/detach them safely and use them for more brews. They will get bigger as they are used and fed sugars. With regular kombucha making, you will soon have many scobies available which you can use, give away to others, and/or hibernate them u till further use.
    It takes a little getting used to the visual side of fermentation. Even brownish spots are nothing to fret about as they usually are just yeast formation.
    Don’t throw away your baby scoby or your kombucha batch!!
    Hope this helped!
    And there are thousands and thousands of people worldwide that can vouch for the benefits of fermented foods and beverages (and I am one of them) so don’t listen to “some doctor”! God knoes many of them are just as clueless as the average Joe especially when it comes to alternative medicine and science! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your insight! I really do appreciate it!

  25. Hello Katie, I’ve been making my own kombucha since November. My husband and I enjoy it every morning. Is it safe for children? I’ve let my 7 year old taste it and she liked it a lot, but I’m wondering if it’s safe for her to have a small glass with us every morning? Thanks and I’ve pretty much been glued to your blog since I discovered it!

    • Just keep in mind that is has 0.5 percent alcohol, and sometimes more if it brews a long time.

  26. Hi????
    Is it ok to drink kombucha while nursing? I just started drinking it and feel great! But I noticed my nursed 8 month old spitting up today and he never does ????. I know it detoxes your body so are the toxins coming out in my breast milk??

    • I drank it while nursing, but I had already been drinking it well before pregnancy so my body was used to it… I’d check with a doc.

  27. Just finished brewing a batch of ‘koffeebucha’ – kombucha made with coffee. It fermented quickly but I have to say I wasn’t too crazy about the taste. .Somehow the two flavours don’t go together for me although I know there are other people who like it and it contains the same amount of probiotics.

    It seems that it, since it sugar that the scoby is interested in, almost anything can be ‘buched’. I think regular black tea tastes the best.

  28. I believe I am ADD. Have difficulty staying focused. I make my own Kombucha and try to drink it daily. It decreased my appetite and lose the craving for coffee.

  29. An interesting read! I’ve drank kombucha everyday for around 2 years, and continued to drink everyday throughout my pregnancy. Although the woman in my family have a history of horrific sickness throughout pregnancy- I have never felt better. Not a single ailment throughout my whole 9 months, and full of energy everyday- still swimming and having 2 walks a day into my 39weeks+. I cannot recommend this life changing elixir enough !!!

  30. Just a side note: morning sickness is actually a very good thing! It means you’re body is ridding itself of toxins and generally speaking women with morning sickness have healthier babies. Be careful of introducing too many new bacteria into your gut flora during pregnancy though – even good bacteria can travel to the heart and cause dangerous complications – rare but it can happen. Ask you MD’s first and most likely they will tell you to eat yogurt during pregnancy if you want some good probiotics. Kombucha is good for developed GI systems but babies are still evolving and therefore it’s prudent to layoff the Kombucha until after pregnancy and after you’re done with breastfeeding too.

    • Moms with morning sickness is from ridding themselves of toxins & they have healthier babies?! Please show me the scientific evidence of this, seriously.
      Many midwives recommend continuing
      KT during pregnancy and as the baby receives its nutrients through blood in utero it’s not affecting it’s gut. And breastmilk is made from blood- so again what mom eats/drinks isn’t going into baby’s stomach. Yogurt in particular is recommended for pregnant women as it’s been shown that regular consumption during pregnancy lowers your chance of a positive strep B test.

      Listen to your body, I quit KT during pregnancy because it increased my heartburn. But I know women who’ve used it to prevent their morning sickness. KT isn’t the miracle elixir some claim but neither is it a dangerous drink as others claim.

  31. HI, I HAVE MS, MY DR SAID THIS TEA WILL HELP BOOST MY IMMUNE SYSTEM AND GIVE ME MORE ENERGY. DO U KNOW ANY ONE ELSE WHO HAS MS THAT THIS TEA HAS HELPED?

    • My bff from Jr. High and I both have MS! We were both busy with our lives, that we lost track of each other for awhile, but we both surprised that we both ended up with MS….she had been making her own kombucha for a long while, and told me how to make it. Neither one of us suffered, but have felt much BETTER! Only my experience, but I plan to keep making and drinking it!

  32. Maybe someone can offer advice:

    For almost a year I attempted very diligently to brew kombucha that had CARBONATION (fizz) like what is present in the Synergy brand.

    I had no success. What did I do wrong????

    • If you’ve not found your answer Google ‘kombucha balancing act’, you should find a webpage with a chart that explains what you need to do to re-balance your KT.

  33. I was given a baby scoby in a small mason jar mixed with some kombucha tea to start a batch. It has been about three weeks and I haven’t used it yet. It is sitting in my fridge. How long do baby scobies last? Can I still use it?

    • First take it out of the fridge, scobys shouldn’t be refrigerated as it can damage the bacteria & yeast eventually. It’s probably just fine though for that short of time. They will store forever at room temp as long as they’re fed and not allowed to dry out. I’ve not been making it for almost 2 years. I have thrown away about 4 gallons of scobys as they just keep growing! I have neglected mine for 6 months even and they had almost no tea left, I have three 1 gallon jars, I disposed of the top ones which had dried out and carried on. Since I didn’t have starter tea I bought a store bought gt to use in one and then pasteurized white vinegar in the other two for starter. Don’t ever use apple cider or un pasteurized as it can lead to ‘vinegar eels’. The starters purpose is to make the fresh tea acidic enough to prevent mold as it ferments. Unpasteurized vinegar would also add cultures you don’t want in your KT. Best group for learning about fermenting is ‘Wild Fermentation’ on FB which is based on Sandor Felix’s book of the same name. He is the undisputed expert and many people who’ve learned directly from him and or with decades of experience (and worldwide too) are on there.

  34. Fascinating info in your comment, Bonny.

  35. How do you feel about homemade kombucha while pregnant? My husband just bought a home brew kit but I’m worries that it may not be safe while pregnant. I’m reading a lot of conflicting opinions. Thank you in advance! 🙂

  36. Is it ok to drink kombucha while pregnant or breast feeding? I’ve read that since it detoxes your body that the toxins get in the breast milk and that’s bad for the nursing child.

  37. I’ve read that kombucha is actually bad for candida overgrowth, as the yeast present in the kombucha can have an adverse affect on a body already fighting candida yeast overgrowth. Most articles I’ve read agree on this point, though some do say that cultured foods containing lactic acid bacteria does help kill off candida. Just from what I’ve been reading it sounds like there are a lot of varying opinions on the subject, as if everyone one knows candida is there, and some have done research on it, but nobody actually agreed on the results.

    • Anna in reply #7 talks about her yeast issues.

  38. Does kombucha make your body too acidic? How many ounces do I drink a day for a beginner?

  39. I’ve been making Kombucha for nearly a year now – yet everyone I have talked to has said that mine is weak, too light in color. How do I change that?

  40. Katie,
    I listened to the summit on dementia and Alzheimer’s recently hosted by Jonathan Landstrum. One of the presenters said you should not drink kombucha because of the yeast content. I make my own and this is the first I have heard of something negative. I am interested in your feedback regarding this.

    Thank you so much,
    Lori R

  41. It was rather recent that I found Kombucha is quite popular among those who are healthy food minded people in the US. But, at the same time, I was puzzled every time I drink it, because it is a totally different drink from what I grew up with. Kommbu-cha is a Japanese name, which means kelp (Kombu) -tea (cha), and nothing to do with black tea, sugar and fermentation. I have no idea who modified, invented and/or inspired, or simply adopted the name to American Kombucha, but its origin and difference between two should be cleared to avoid any confusion and misunderstanding. By the way, I do love both, but, I definitely prefer American Kombu-cha, except its outrageously high price.

    • It comes from Korea or N. China, hence d why “cha” is the same. I am an American who was living in Japan when my sister in the US Asked me about kombucha – so I went through this confusion too!

  42. How do you tell if the mushroom is still good? I have had one in a jar covered by a coffee filter and haven’t made kombucha forover a year. Was wanting to make a batch.

  43. Maybe add another teabag?

  44. I’ve been making and drinking milk kefir for about 4 years. Does kombucha have any benefits that milk kefir does not have? A different nutritional profile?

    The milk kefir is just so simple to make. I am wondering if making kombucha is worth the added effort. People talk about it as a substitute for soda, but I don’t drink and never have liked soda or sweet drinks anyway. Besides water, we drink just coffee, tea, or milk.

    Sometimes I do a second fermentation of my milk kefir with blenderized fruit. That also makes a fizzy drink. But it quickly becomes very sour and alcoholic tasting if I don’t finish it within a day.

  45. I’ve been making Komucha lately for about 3 months. A friend who lived in South America introduced it to me about 28 years ago, called it Schemmel. The Chinese love eating the actual SCOBY, Magic Mushroom, Schemmel. I have been experimenting with Jun, the version made with Green Tea and honey. I love it. It has a mild, pleasant taste.

    I wonder how much is too much to drink.

  46. I see you mentioned folic acid is in this. Is it from the tea? Or …naturally occurring? Is there a way to make it without the folic acid?

  47. I have consumed KB 60ml a day for for 16days now and I still experience very strong negative emotions and low mood. Is this normal? I consider quitting as I do not know how much longer I can bear it. I have hashimoto’s disease.

  48. Does kombucha aid constipation?

  49. I am not sure why the nutrition facts list “Folic Acid.” Folic Acid is a synthetic form of Vitamin B9. It should say, “Folate.”

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