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VTCNA Health Tips: Booch, It Is!

Jessilyn Dolan 15 Jan 2019

Happy Booch Day! Kombucha that is… January 15 has now been officially designated National Booch Day!

If you haven’t tried it, kombucha is a fermented tea made by adding bacteria, yeast and sugar to black or green tea. Tangy, sweet, full-bodied, and carbonated, kombucha has been gaining popularity over the last few years, along with other fermented foods like kefir, miso, kimchi and raw cheese.  

Jar of brewing kombucha. Photo by Mgarten at the English Wikipedia

Like many of our amazing old time herbal remedies, kombucha dates back thousands of years, originating from traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine.

Health Benefits

Kombucha is known as a “nutritional powerhouse,” adding minerals, enzymes, and C and B vitamins to your diet, as well as providing a great source of healthy bacteria known as probiotics.

One of kombucha’s nicknames, “mushroom tea,” comes from the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), which lies at the heart of the kombucha brewing process, making it a rich source of probiotics and healthy bacteria for our gastrointestinal system. Our gut microbiome is important to our homeostasis and overall health.

 

Kombucha is commonly made with green tea, adding the benefits of antioxidants (which reduce liver toxicity) and polyphenols to its salubrious street cred. Both compounds reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as pancreatic and breast cancers, and research shows that they help regulate blood sugar and digestion of carbohydrates, and potentially aid in weight loss – which can help diabetic patients and improve organ function.

Green tea can also have a positive effect on both good and bad cholesterol levels, and lower one’s risk of developing heart disease. Kombucha has shown the same promising results in recent rat studies.

Kombucha appears to have strong antibacterial properties, especially against candida yeast. Acetic acid gets produced during the fermentation process, which can kill harmful bacteria. Kombucha has glucosamines which can ease arthritic pain, and it can also fight certain microbes that cause inflammation and illness, making it a true preventative medicine.

Kombucha yeast and bacteria magnified 400 times. Photo by John Alan Elson – 3dham.com

Kombucha can help with most GI issues, constipation or diarrhea, and reduce pain from gastric ulcers.  At a cellular level, kombucha battles cytotoxicity and strengthens our cell membranes. At an emotional level, Kombucha is a mood lifter, rich in Vitamin C and Bs, reducing stress, anxiety and depression.

Healthline.com has an article entitled “8 Evidence Based Health Benefits of Kombucha.” I chose this out of many sites to mention because of the specific words they chose, “Evidence Based.”  

Cleveland clinic .org sums it up for us very well…

“There aren’t a lot of good quality, robust studies to support a lot of kombucha hype, but the compounds it contains have been associated in studies with lowering cholesterol, lowering blood sugar, antimicrobial action, decreased rates of cancer and improvement in liver and GI function.”

A Little Bit Of Alcohol

Kombucha’s fizzy carbonation comes from acetic acid (what we find in vinegar) and several other acidic compounds, along with trace levels of alcohol and gases created during the fermentation process. Alcohol levels in store bought kombucha should be less than 0.5%.

Despite the low concentrations of alcohol, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that pregnant women and children choose another drink and not consume kombucha, as well as patients with HIV, liver or kidney diseases, compromised immune systems, or alcohol dependency.

The Center for Disease Control states that four ounces of kombucha can be safely consumed one to three times a day, but recommends no more than 12oz per day.

The Home Brew

Mayo Clinic recommends that folks consider risks such as infection, allergic reactions, and stomach upset, and to be cautious with home brews where non sterile conditions cans make contamination more likely. Ceramic pots have resulted in lead poisoning, so be sure not to use ceramic in home brews. Just as many medical folks do with cannabis, Mayo Clinic airs on the side of caution, stating “The prudent approach is to avoid kombucha tea until more definitive information is available.”  

Healthline warns consumers of serious dangers to one’s health with over-fermented or contaminated kombucha, especially homemade kombuchas, and recommends buying from the store.

Of course, if we all decided to have that approach with cannabis and home grows over the last 80 years, where would we be today?

Now, despite these educated recommendations, remember that you are your own expert. While the internet has a lot of information, in the end, it is always up to you, the consumer or patient, to educate yourselves, ask the right people the right questions, and make appropriate and safe individualized choices. Google is not a doctor, and doctors practice medicine, not perfect it.  So you are always the expert of your own health.

Making Home-Brewed Booch

As I mentioned in the beginning, you need a SCOBY, which you can make with tea, sugar and some pre-made kombucha. Just be sure not to use honey or decaf tea if you are making your own SCOBY. You can also purchase one on-line. Some health food and supplement stores carry them, or you might have a friend who can throw a SCOBY clone your way.

SCOBY – Photo by Lukas Chin

However you procure your SCOBY, It won’t take long for you to be regularly home brewing your own craft kombucha. It’s well worth the time, effort and minimal money involved, so I encourage you to explore this, just as I encourage all cannabis users to grow their own cannabis.

Here’s a quick snapshot for making your own home brewed booch…

I don’t recommend using metal or plastic containers and encourage sterility and best sanitation possible.

This is one of many recipes, so explore away – and let me know when you find your favorite recipe!

  • Boil 3 ½ quarts of water.
  • Add 1 cup of organic sugar (sugar of your choice: cane, molasses, honey, maple, agave) and 8 organic tea bags (I prefer green tea).  Let it steep, covered with a lid, until it reaches room temperature. You now have your “sugar tea.”

By the way, kombucha does have some caffeine. It’s minimal in comparison to a typical cup of coffee,

maybe about a quarter of the amount, but for someone who doesn’t ever have caffeine, like me, it is noteworthy.

  • Add two cups of pre-made organic kombucha (called your starter liquid) to your sugar tea.
  • Transfer all of this into your glass storage jar (or jars, knowing that you will need one SCOBY for each jar), add your SCOBY and cover securely with tightly woven cloth. Organic muslin works great, or even a natural unbleached coffee filter or paper towel will do.
  • Leave the jar in a dark place for 7-10 days
Photo by Phillipbeynon

Temperature plays an important role in bacterial growth. Fermentation is a bit quicker in warmertemperatures and slower in colder. The cabinet above fridge works great as it tends to be a bit warmer (shooting for 75-85 degrees).

And then your experiment slowly begins…

After a week or so, start taste-testing it daily. Be absolutely sure to adhere to cleanliness and sanitation standards during tasting. Fermentation typically takes a week or two, but can be up to a month if you desire. When it is the perfect balance of sweet and tart that your palate fancies, it is ready to be bottled.

Bottling Your Kombucha

  • Prepare a new sugar tea mix to make your next batch of kombucha.
  • Siphon two cups from the top of the original batch of kombucha for the next starter liquid, and remove the SCOBY, to immediately reuse for the next batch.
  • As you bottle your kombucha, be sure to use clean or sterile bottles and leave some room at the top for carbonation to occur. Some people like to strain the liquid before bottling, but it isn’t necessary. Store the bottles for 1 to 3 days at room temp and out of the sunlight. Carbonation and fermentation will continue until it is refrigerated. Refrigerate when you have reached the desired carbonation and enjoy your booch within the next month.
  • Start Round Two of kombucha with your prepared sugar tea, your 2 cups of new starter liquid and your reusable SCOBY!

Kombucha can be made in a classic natural flavor or with added flavoring, spices or fruit juice such as vanilla, ginger, cayenne, blueberries, pineapples and lemon for lemonade.  

What About Cannabis?

Of course, you can and should add cannabis, making this amazing drink that much more amazing!

You can easily add organic cannabis when you are making your original sugar tea. Just put cannabis in a tea bag to add to the mix. Or, you can toss in some loose leaf and flower, and strain it out of the water later. You can decarboxylate the cannabis first if you wish.

If you don’t have your own cannabis, you can replace your sugar for the tea mix with some form of cannabis-infused sugar (another whole discussion in itself), or look online for CBD sugars like Vermont’s Luce Farm Hemp Infused Honey.  

If booch brewing isn’t your style, there are plenty of national companies selling CBD Kombucha and two local Vermont Companies: Creek Valley Cannabidiol and Aqua ViTea.So, pick up a glass, and make a toast to cannabis kombucha. Happy Booch day to you and yours!

 

Jessilyn Dolan, RN, CMT, CLD, ADS is a nurse researcher and educator and founder of The Vermont Cannabis Nurses Association.

She’s a Cannabis Nurse Educator and co-owns HomeGrown Consulting for cannabis cultivation and medication consultations. Jessilyn is a proud Clean Green Certified organic H.E.M.P.  (Horticultural Excellence Medicinal Perfection) farmer.

She will be bringing a weekly dose of Whole Plant to Whole Person medicine and healing tips your way.

 

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