The Folk Remedy That Can Prevent Cancer
What it is, How it works, and How to prepare it
By Stan Russell
Kombucha tea (pronounced kom-BOO-cha) is an ancient folk remedy from Asia whose history goes back beyond the birth of Christ. It is a refreshing beverage that has such a broad range of health benefits it almost seems to be the long-sought panacea for all human ills. Although it is not a panacea, its usefulness in maintaining health is especially significant today in dealing with metabolic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, HIV and other contemporary killers.
As with most folk medicines, extravagant claims have been made about “miraculous” cures attributed to Kombucha tea. Folk medicine has long been encumbered with claims of unproved powers, superstitions, anecdotal examples and spurious, questionable proofs of effectiveness. Educated people of a scientific orientation usually reject such claims and the remedies associated with them. However, Kombucha has been extensively studied by scientists, especially in the former USSR and in Germany, where it is sold in health food stores today. True to its reputation, it has been used successfully to treat some of the slightest as well as some of the gravest human health conditions.
Kombucha As A Cancer Treatment
Joseph Stalin, premier of the Soviet Union, was said to have had an obsessive fear of dying of cancer. After World War II the number of cancer cases in the Soviet Union increased dramatically from year to year. In 1951 the Russian Academy of Science and the Central Oncological Research Institute in Moscow began to analyze statistical data on the variations in number of cancer cases in the regions, districts and cities of the USSR.
They noted that there were hardly any cancer cases in the districts of Solikamsk and Beresniki in the Central Urals, and those few cases were only in people who had recently moved there.
Two teams of 10 scientists each, plus support people, were sent to investigate the environmental conditions and lifestyles of the people who lived in those districts in the hope of discovering clues that might lead to an effective treatment for cancer. They studied the origins of the population, age groups, ethnic distinctions, eating, drinking, sleeping habits, and other variables.
They discovered very high levels of environmental pollution. Potassium, lead, mercury, asbestos mines and their associated processing plants were creating toxic living conditions much worse than those occurring in the older industrial areas of the USSR. Trees were dying, as were fish in nearby waters.
Aside from the increased toxicity of the environment, the investigators could find very little that was substantially different from populations in other areas of the USSR. Ironically, there was a higher level of alcohol and nicotine consumption, but much lower levels of absenteeism and arrests for drunken offenses. Morale of workers was higher than in other areas. Norms for work production were constantly being exceeded. No explanation could be found for these anomalies.
One of the team leaders was visiting the home of a family as part of the investigation. The wife and husband were at work and the children were at school. An old lady was there, doing housework. She offered him a cool beverage which he found pleasant, tasty and refreshing. When he asked what it was, the old lady said it was “tea kvass.” The scientist was surprised. The only kvass he knew was a fermented Russian beverage similar to beer, made from rye or barley. The old lady explained that “tea kvass” was not made from rye or barley, but from sweetened tea which had been fermented by means of a “tea fungus.” She showed him 10 stoneware jars in an adjacent room which had cloths tied over their mouths. She uncovered one. It smelled strongly of fermentation. Floating on top of the liquid was a large, round, translucent, whitish, jelly-like thing, flat as a pancake. This was the “tea fungus.”
By coincidence, the other team working in the Beresniki district also stumbled onto this almost unknown “tea kvass” during their researches. Investigation disclosed that in both regions just about every household produced this “tea wine” and consumed it in ample quantities.
Even alcoholics drank quantities of it before, during, and after drinking alcohol. Although consuming large quantities of alcohol, drinkers showed hardly any signs of inebriation. Offenses of drunkenness and accidents on the road or in the workplace were rare.
No scientist on either team could identify or classify the “tea fungus.” The Moscow Central Bacteriological Institute was able to identify it from color photos and samples as Kombucha. They relied primarily on a book written in 1926 by a German, W. Henneberg.
Rich In Vitamins, Minerals And Beneficial Acids
Investigation revealed that Kombucha, among other things, has antibiotic effects and produces a variety of beneficial substances including glucuronic acid, folic acid, lactic acid (the good kind) and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12.
Glucuronic acid has extraordinary detoxifying effects. It binds with toxins generated by the body’s own metabolic processes and also binds with toxic substances from the environment (contaminants in water, air and food) and carries them out of the body in the urine. Toxins bound by glucuronic acid cannot be reabsorbed by the intestines or urinary system.
Under normal conditions of health the liver is able to generate all the glucuronic acid the body needs to detoxify itself.
In these modern times our bodies are under continuous stress from toxic substances in the food we eat, which include toxic sprays that have been applied to vegetables, antibiotics given to animals whose flesh we eat, airborne toxic substances in the air we breathe from automobiles and industries, and toxins that we choose to take into our bodies such as nicotine, alcohol, antibiotics and other drugs, recreational or therapeutic.
Under such continual, unrelenting attack the weakened liver can not produce enough glucuronic acid and degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis can take hold.
Clinical tests revealed that after drinking Kombucha, the urine of patients who had never taken Kombucha before contained significant traces of such environmental toxins as lead, mercury, benzol, cesium, etc., demonstrating its extraordinary detoxifying powers.
Body's Building Blocks
In addition, glucuronic acid is the building block of such important polysaccharides as hyaluronic acid, the substance from which connective tissue develops; chondroitin sulfuric acid, the substance from which cartilage evolves; mucoitin sulfuric acid, the substance of stomach lining and the clear, gelatinous matter of the eyes; and heparin, which prevents the blood from coagulating.
Kombucha also contains usnic acid which has strong antibacterial effects and can also partially inactivate some viruses.
All of these contribute to Kombucha’s ability to rejuvenate the body. Kombucha has been used successfully to treat connective tissue disorders, inflammation and degeneration of the joints (arthrosis and arthritis,) damage to the stomach, intestinal and colon lining and complaints of the eyes.
Many scientists dismiss folk remedies as “unsubstantiated, anecdotal superstitions.” This was especially true in the Soviet Union during the Stalin era. However, they did permit experiments to be conducted with some cancer patients who were in prison hospitals and labor camps.
One such patient, the famous dissident, Nobel Prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitzyn, developed stomach cancer which metastasized to the lungs, liver, bowel and other parts of the body. He was able later to describe his experiences in his books, “Cancer Ward,” “The Right Hand,” and in his autobiographies. He believes he was completely cured as a result of drinking Kombucha tea as an adjunct to radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Another interesting anecdotal example is that of former president Ronald Reagan, who was reported in 1983 to have had cancer which had metastasized to the bowel, bladder and nose. He was unable to cope with chemotherapy and further metastases appeared. One of his physicians allegedly recalled reading of Alexander Solzhenitzyn’s complete recovery in a Soviet hospital. Solzhenitzyn, who was living in the United States at the time, was contacted and was able to provide important information. Samples of Kombucha were obtained from Japan and administered to President Reagan. He responded well and subsequently recovered completely.
Other Uses Of Kombucha
There are many ways in which Kombucha can be beneficial to human health. Extensive scientific research has been done on it, particularly in Russia, Germany and the former USSR. The unusual blend of life-restoring acids it contains, its rich mix of vitamins and minerals, plus its beneficial bacteria and yeasts have extraordinary antibiotic, detoxifying, and curative properties.
Kombucha works on the human system as a whole, restoring cell membranes to optimal functioning without side effects.
Its beneficial effects include:
• rehabilitates, regulates, and regenerates flora and cell walls of the intestine and colon
• normalizes intestinal pH and serum pH
• relieves constipation and sluggish bowels
• stimulates digestion and metabolism
• restores acid/alkaline balance of the blood
• strengthens the immune system
• moderates blood sugar levels
• lowers viral load
• chelates excess heavy metals
• clears up adult acne
• softens hardened arteries and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• alleviates osteoarthrosis, arthritis, rheumatism, and gout
• suppresses dysentery bacteria and stops infectious diarrhea
• treats tonsillitis, gastroenteritis, inflammation of the small and large intestines
• effective for fatigue, lassitude, nervous tension and complaints of aging
• relieves headaches and stomach pains
• enhances ability to sleep
• healthy people experience an increase in energy
• relieves impotence and enhances sexual endurance
• restores natural color to graying hair, restores thinning hair and helps stave off baldness
• reduces crows feet and facial wrinkles
• alleviates symptoms of multiple sclerosis
• relieves irregular or painful menstruation
• reduces or eliminates hot flashes during menopause
• relieves asthma, bronchitis and allergies
• helps to heal cataracts and other non beneficial formations of the cornea
• increases blood circulation
• corrects psoriasis and other skin disorders and eliminates brown spots
• prevents cancer
• extends life span
Although it is not a cure-all, Kombucha is beneficial in so many different ways it can seem like a wonderful gift to those of us who must contend with disease-causing pollutants in our air, water, food and environment. It does not have a specific action against particular diseases, but instead detoxifies the whole body so that the body’s natural healing processes can more effectively deal with specific diseases and unhealthy conditions.
Good For Trees And Plants
Research in the former Soviet Union and more recently in Germany indicates that glucuronic acid in Kombucha is able to combine with over two hundred known toxins within the plant cell and these included substances absorbed from acidic and radioactive rains, as well as atmospheric pollutants from sulfur dioxide and ozone. Kombucha provides genetic protection so that plant growth patterns are normalized after disruption by endogenic and exogenic poisons.
Other Medical Uses
In Brazil the culture’s pancake-like floating “mat” has been used successfully as a temporary skin substitute by dermatologists and plastic surgeons in over 400 cases which included human second- and third-degree burns, skin grafts, face peeling, tattoo abrasions, infectious dermolysis and trophic ulcers.
Used As A Compress
The cellulose “mat” can be applied to the surface of the body as a poultice to ease pain in sore joints or discomfort in the abdomen. It can be applied to the hip and then be wrapped with Saran Wrap to hold it in place while the individual sleeps. One lady in Australia applied it to her abdomen to relieve constipation; her bowel movements quickly returned to normal.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is produced by a consortium of yeasts and bacteria, principally Acetobacter xylinum (Bacterium xylinum) in symbiosis with Schizosaccharomyces pombe yeast. In addition, this symbiosis also contains Saccharonmyces ludwigii, Saccharomyces of the apiculantus types, Bacterium xylinoides, Bacterium gluconicum, Acetobacter ketogenum, Pichia fermentans as well as other beneficial yeasts.
Aceterbacter xylinum is the principal bacterium. It is activated by caffeine and its related compounds, theophylline and theobromine. It produces the floating cellulose network (or “mushroom,” as it is often incorrectly called) when immersed in a solution of black tea and white sugar by a complex process of fermentation. The black tea is converted to Kombucha beverage.
The floating Kombucha culture looks like a translucent, whitish, gelatinous pancake. It can be used later to ferment another batch of tea, producing another culture. The liquid is strained through a cloth or paper filter and stored in a cool place or refrigerator for later consumption. The fermented beverage contains 0.3 % alcohol, about the same as non-alcoholic beer.
Known By Many Names
In addition to its pharmaceutical name, Fungus japonicus, its botanical name, Meduusomyces giseevii, and its Germanticized form, Kombucha, by which it is known internationally, the culture has been known by many other names, including: Brinum-Ssene (Latvian); Cembuya orientalis (Latin); Chamboucho (Romanian); Comboucha (French); Combucha (Japanese); Japan gomba (Hungarian); Japanska gliva (Yugoslavian):; Kambuha (Russian); Kargasok-teepilz (German); Kocha Kinoko (Japanese); Ling zhi (Chinese); Tea fungus Kombucha; Tea mould (Java); Teyi saki (Armenian); Theezwam Komboecha (Dutch); Tschambucco; Yaponge and many, many more.
All Kombucha Cultures Are Not Equal
The Russian research scientist Danielova writes in Morphology of the Tea Fungus (1954) that the actual composition of the Kombucha culture varies according to its place of origin, its genetic lineage, altitude, humidity, temperature, degree of contamination by whatever types of wild yeasts, bacteria and plant spores exist in the local environment, and the care and reverence with which it has been handled and propagated. The component elements of individual Kombucha cultures can vary so widely that it is difficult to find two cultures exactly alike.
The Kombucha fungal mass is an uncertain, changing community of bacteria and yeasts interacting dynamically, whose production of Kombucha beverage is influenced by the following factors:
• types and quantities of bacteria and yeasts actually in the fungus at this moment in time season of year
• type of water used
• ratio of culture mass to nutrient liquid
• temperature during fermentation
• ratio of surface area of nutrient liquid to amount of liquid in container
• humidity during period of fermentation
• altitude at which fermentation takes place
• amount of light and/or darkness during fermentation
• length of fermentation time
• the intended healing benefits for the beverage being brewed
• types and amounts (ratio) of nutrients to provide optimal production of desired health benefits in resulting beverage (regardless of their form, nutrients are basically purines, nitrogen and carbon).
Given these factors, we can assume the following:
• It is important to know what yeasts and bacteria are actually in the culture presently being used if you want a predictable outcome.
• Kombucha produced by a culture today may be (and probably is) different than Kombucha produced by the same culture two weeks ago, because the culture itself is probably not the same culture due to its tendency to mutate.
• A simple formula of black tea, white sugar, specific brewing time and temperature will not necessarily ensure consistency of the resulting beverage, but it helps a lot. Research in Russia has confirmed it to be the most reliable nutrient tea.
• By varying the factors listed above, the beverage can be brewed to deal with specific health conditions in the human body. Medical researchers in Oregon have developed strains for specific disease conditions.
• Unless a person takes all of these factors into consideration, statements about Kombucha will tend to be generalities that may or may not be true.
• Kombucha is a complex subject that requires thoughtful consideration of all the factors that influence its fermentation if it is to be used safely and effectively.
In addition, some cultures seem to gradually lose their ability to produce carbonic acid. They are also subject to contamination by bacteria and wild yeasts in the air which may be introduced through unsanitary handling, carelessness or ignorance. Cultures may be exposed to direct sunlight or to toxic substances such as household bleach or tobacco smoke which may kill off some of the bacteria while leaving others. Such a culture may be able to reproduce itself, forming a new "tea sponge" on the surface of the nutrient solution without being able to metabolize the sugar into Kombucha beverage and without being able to make carbonic acid, which gives it its fizz.
Making Your Own Kombucha Beverage
If you know how to brew a good cup of tea you can easily brew this remarkable beverage in your own kitchen. A month’s supply takes less than half an hour to prepare and costs less than $1.
When preparing the beverage it is important to maintain optimal cleanliness to avoid contaminating it with undesired bacteria or invisible plant spores in the air. Hands, utensils and containers should be washed in very hot water and rinsed thoroughly.
Getting Ready To Make Kombucha
Please have the following items on hand so that you can immediately begin brewing your Kombucha beverage:
• One gallon-size, wide-mouth, glass bowl
• 2 Cups white sugar (Do Not Use brown sugar, Sucanat, or honey)
• Black tea bags, such as Lipton or other black tea
• Clean, thin cotton cloth, such as an old tee shirt, sheet or tea towel.
• Stainless steel, enamelware or glass pot, 4 qt or larger to brew the nutrient tea. (No aluminum, ever)
• 3 quarts water. Distilled water is best but you can also use filtered or bottled water.
When your Kombucha culture arrives, open the package immediately and place the culture in a glass bowl so that it can breathe. (It’s alive.) Cover with light cloth until you’re ready to use it. It can be stored at room temperature, or you can place it in the fridge.
The Right Container For Fermenting Kombucha
Use only glass bowls for fermenting the tea as the acids in Kombucha will otherwise react with metal or other types of container. Over time, lead (which is very toxic) will leach out of ceramic, earthenware, enameled and other glazed containers. Toxic petrochemicals will leach out of plastic containers, including plastic baggies, contrary to claims by manufacturers. Toxic nickel will leach out of stainless steel. For that reason, it is recommended that you only use glass containers for the fermenting part of the process.
The culture needs oxygen. The wider the mouth of the bowl or jar, the larger the surface area of the culture exposed to air. A new culture will form across the surface. If you have a tall, narrow jar such as those used to brew sun tea you will have too little surface area for the amount of liquid being fermented. A wide, shallow dish or old fashioned cookie jar will expose more surface to the air, enabling the culture to breathe properly.
A handy rule of thumb is to make sure that the width of the surface is greater than the depth of the liquid. If the surface is 8 inches wide, the depth of the liquid should be 7 inches.
The nutrient tea may be prepared in a stainless steel, enamelware or glass cooking vessel. Aluminum cooking vessels should be avoided. Brewing at least three quarts is recommended as the minimum for one person. Add four tea bags of black tea, such as Lipton’s (or other orange pekoe or black tea) for each gallon of boiling water.
Use two cups of white sugar for each batch of boiling water. (Honey, brown sugar, Sucanat, fructose, etc. are not recommended as they do not produce the most favorable biological result. In fact, honey has its own anti-bacterial effects which can kill the Acetobacter xylinum in the Kombucha culture.) Stir and then turn off heat. After steeping for 10 minutes, remove tea bags. Allow to cool to room temperature.
It is important that the tea cools to room temperature before placing the live culture in it. Hot liquids can be fatal. If you already have Kombucha made and are making another batch, add at least 4 ounces of your previous Kombucha beverage per gallon of nutrient tea to acidify the liquid and speed up the fermentation process. Cover the open mouth of the bowl with light cloth to keep out fruit flies, dust, plant spores and other pollutants. Tie it down with a large rubber band or masking tape to ensure that fruit flies can't get in. The cloth must be porous enough to allow air to circulate so the culture can breathe, but not so porous that tiny fruit flies can get in to lay their eggs.
Allow to ferment undisturbed for eight to eleven days at slightly warm temperature (70-90 degrees) in a shaded, ventilated space. The fermentation process is easily disturbed by any kind of movement of the container, vibration or excessive noise.
- Direct sunlight will kill the culture. It is happiest in a darkened, ventilated place.
- Tobacco smoke will kill the culture. No smoking in the same or nearby rooms, please.
Mutation: Fancy Word For Changes
These little single-celled creatures will respond to changes in conditions by changing themselves into a mutated or changed form. Changes in temperature, season, humidity, altitude, nutrients, and other environmental factors will provoke changes in the Kombucha itself. Its babies will be mutants who will have slightly different characteristics than mom.
Over time it may begin to produce less carbonic acid and its resulting fizz. It may become unproductive, turning itself into a useless yeast patty. It may produce less of one acid and more of another. Mutations are difficult to predict, but they can be minimized.
Consistency, maintaining the status quo, not changing anything from batch to batch, is the key to minimizing the Kombucha fungus’ natural tendency to mutate. This means sticking to the same brand of tea, the same water, the same brand of white sugar, never varying your formula, maintaining an even fermentation temperature, being meticulously consistent in every aspect of the fermentation process.
Continuing Your Kombucha
Occasionally the culture may sink to the bottom of the mixture. It may remain there or it may eventually rise to the top. Whether the mother culture rises, sinks, floats in mid solution, or does all three, the fermentation process is proceeding normally. A new tea sponge baby will begin to appear in a few days, floating on top.
After 8-11 days remove the culture and separate the new, translucent baby on top from the mother culture underneath, if they are attached. Sometimes they aren’t. You can pull them apart with your clean hands.
Three quarts is not enough to provide Kombucha for one person on a daily basis if you follow the recommendations of Russian scientists. A person needs to drink 12 ounces a day (4 oz, 3 times a day.) This regimen compels you to have several batches fermenting at the same time in order to ensure a steady supply of beverage. Some prefer to brew two gallons at a time so that they will have some extra beverage to share with friends.
Use your original culture to start another batch and store the baby in the fridge in an open, clean, glass container in some of the Kombucha beverage. Or, place the baby in a separate glass bowl with fresh nutrient tea and make an additional batch. It makes a delicious social drink, especially when diluted and served chilled in champagne glasses.
In this way the original culture will continue to produce batch after batch of Kombucha, gradually turning a darker shade of brown as a result of the tannin it absorbs from the black tea. Eventually, after being used four times (at most) it should be set aside and one of its babies used in its place. The Kombucha culture tends to mutate with each fermentation, so that after four uses it may not retain all of its original healing and rejuvenating powers.
What Kind Of Tea?
Several scientific studies indicate that regular orange pekoe or black tea (such as Lipton's) consistently produces the most consistent, biologically-active Kombucha beverage.
Kombucha is a community of living organisms which require a rich supply of purine to maintain their own metabolism. Of all the teas, black tea has the highest purine content. Black tea produces the highest concentration of L-lactic acid (the good kind that seems to inhibit cancer) and gluconic acid. The tannin and caffeine content of black tea plays an important role in the formation of the culture's skin (the cellulose pancake) that floats on the surface of the nutrient solution.
Consider Green Tea
Chinese green tea, Japanese Bancha tea, Korean green tea and other forms of green tea can be used to make Kombucha. Green teas provide many health benefits. They provide protection against leukemia and cancer; they make the blood vessels more elastic and help prevent cerebral hemorrhage and heart attacks; they are effective treatments for dysentery and typhoid fever; they are an excellent remedy for bladder stones, gall stones and kidney stones. However, black teas such as Lipton’s, are superior to green teas in producing the richest, most metabolically-effective Kombucha beverage. If you prefer to use green tea for your Kombucha be sure to add a sufficient amount of black tea (one tea bag per batch of boiling water, in addition to the green tea) to provide enough purine, caffeine and tannin for the new culture on the surface to grow.
Herbal Tea, No, No, No!
Some herbal teas (sage, peppermint, chamomile, St. John’s Wort, for instance) have high levels of volatile oils that inhibit or block the fermentation process required to produce glucuronic acid. One type of black tea, Earl Gray, contains bergamot, an aromatic oil that makes it unsuitable for Kombucha. Other herbal teas do not produce enough nitrogen to feed the yeasts. In addition to volatile oils, many herbal teas contain greater amounts of phenol than black tea. These destroy or inhibit beneficial bacteria in the Kombucha culture.
White Sugar: To Use Or Not To Use?
Refined white sugar plays an important role in Kombucha. The microorganisms of the culture feed on the sugar and derive energy from it as well as from the minerals and nitrogen which have passed into the liquid from the black tea leaves.
Nearly all of the white sugar is transformed by fermentation into other forms of life energy. It is oxidized by the yeasts into gluconic acid by means of Bacterium gluconicum and is broken down into acids, vitamins, carbon dioxide, antibiotics and water. Very little sugar is left in the resulting Kombucha tea, provided it has been allowed to ferment long enough.
The usual length of time required to metabolize nearly all the sugar is 8 - 11 days, depending on temperature, humidity, quality of water, quality of culture and other factors. Fermenting Kombucha is similar to brewing beer or wine. Many factors can be controlled to produce more of the qualities being sought from the beverage. If it is allowed to go too long, there will be no sugar left and it will turn to vinegar. Then most people find it unpalatable as a beverage, except to the strong-willed. However Kombucha vinegar can be used for cooking, for salad dressings, and as a beneficial home remedy for a variety of ailments.
Challenge For Connoisseurs
The intriguing challenge for the Kombucha-fancier is to discover just the right period of time to ferment (8-11 days), the right room temperature (70-90 degrees), the right amount of refined white sugar (±two cups per 3 qts of tea), the right water (distilled or unchlorinated, and without fluorides) and the right amount of the right kind of tea to produce the optimal amount of metabolic products that give it its health-enhancing properties while retaining its sparkle, color, clarity, exquisite taste and other qualities.
Other Forms Of Sugar Are Out
So strong is the prejudice against white sugar among health-conscious people that the very idea of brewing Kombucha with white sugar is totally offensive to them. Yet, numerous scientific studies indicate that brown sugar, whole cane sugar, honey, fructose, evaporated cane juice (Sucanat) and forms of sugar other than white sugar do not produce the desired optimal amounts of healing metabolic products in the Kombucha beverage.
Several studies by a team of scientists (Danielova, Sakaryan, et al) in the former Soviet Union focused on identifying the specific elements of Kombucha that have significant healing properties. They then determined by experiment the best formula for fermenting a beverage rich in those elements. (Our recommendations are based on their formula.) They found white sugar to be far superior to other forms of sugar in producing the important acids that detoxify the body and rejuvenate tissue.
Although you, the reader, may have grave reservations about consuming white sugar, it is important to remember that the sugar is largely eaten and transformed by the culture into other beneficial products. It is strongly recommended that only white sugar be used when making Kombucha tea.
Harvesting Your Kombucha
Remove the culture floating on the surface with your clean hands and separate the new, translucent “baby” on top from the “mother” underneath (if they happen to be stuck together) by pulling them apart with your clean hands. They’re both still good. You can give the baby to a friend and use the mother for your next batch. In the meantime, you can store them in the refrigerator in a clean glass container in some of the Kombucha liquid. Don’t forget to cover the container with a thin cloth so that your baby can breathe while being protected from invisible, airborne plant spores and other contaminants.
Strain the liquid through a clean cloth placed in a sieve and store it in a glass container. (No metal, ceramic, glazed, plastic, enamelware or crystal containers, please.) You now have a delicious, refreshing beverage.
Experiment with your own tolerance and desire for Kombucha. If you are in the middle of a specific healing process, cleanse or detoxification, drink up to 16 oz per day or as suggested by your Natural Health care practitioner.
For daily tonification, drink Kombucha as desired, generally no more than 12 oz per day. Kombucha can be highly energizing, so you may prefer drinking it earlier in the day.
Erasing Wrinkles And Eliminating Crow’s Feet
Facial wrinkles can be softened and crow’s feet around the eyes eliminated by applying the tea to your skin as well as drinking it. Dab the face with a tissue, facial sponge or cotton ball dipped in your Kombucha tea. Allow to dry. Those with serious skin conditions should do this daily in the morning and again in the evening before bed.
You can also make a facial cream of the culture. It is liquefied in a blender, along with enough of the fermented Kombucha tea to produce a creamy lotion. A gram or two of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can be added during the blending process. Store it in a ventilated glass container. You may wish to whip it up in the blender from time to time as it may tend over time to form a new skin on its surface. Apply the cream to your freshly-cleaned skin. Then you can apply your moisturizer over it. Crow’s feet around the eyes usually disappear within one month. Serious skin conditions improve and even unsightly blemishes disappear. It can often clear up adult acne.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: “My culture sank to the bottom and stayed there. Is it any good?”
A: Yes, it’s probably still good. Sometimes it stays on the bottom, sometimes it hangs in mid-solution, and sometimes it floats.
Q: “The new culture floating on top is thin and transparent. Is it any good?”
A: Its thinness may be due to temperatures below 70 degrees, in which case you will have to allow it to ferment for a longer period. Taste the beverage. If it is still sweet after 8 days, fermentation is not taking place and you may have to switch to a new mother culture.
Q: “What shall I do with the babies I’m accumulating?”
A: You can store them in a glass bowl, give them to friends, make face cream out of them (described above) or put them in the compost pile.
Q: “I have a paper that says I should use less sugar (or more) than you recommend. Whose recommendations should I follow?”
A: Our recommendations are based on scientific research conducted in the former Soviet Union designed to produce Kombucha with the maximum healing properties. Use ours for reliable therapeutic results.
Q: “I was making batch after batch of great Kombucha and now, suddenly, it’s sweet and the baby is so thin it’s almost nonexistent. What happened?”
A: You probably used your original mother culture too long. It gets weaker through mutation with each batch. You should substitute a new baby after every four batches. It’s best now to obtain a new culture.
Q: “I keep getting mold growing on my culture. How can I prevent that from happening?”
A: Add 8 ounces of apple cider vinegar or white distilled vinegar to each batch of boiling water before you add the tea bags. This will acidify the tea solution and should solve your mold problem.
Q: “How can I make thicker cultures?”
A: You can produce thicker cultures and a richer Kombucha beverage by adding 6 oz of vinegar to each gallon of boiling water before you add the tea bags. This acidifies the solution.
Q: “I get a headache (or nausea, skin rash, etc.) when I drink Kombucha. What’s happening? I thought I was supposed to enjoy the stuff.”
A: Kombucha beverage produces no undesired side effects in healthy human bodies. When side effects such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, or upset stomach occur after drinking Kombucha, they may be due to rapid release of toxins from the body. Reduce the amount of Kombucha you drink to 1 ounce per day for a week, then gradually increase over the next two weeks up to the recommended 12 oz per day. You may also wish to dilute the beverage with apple juice or water to make it a little easier on your stomach. Side effects may also indicate the culture has been contaminated or gone bad. If so, toss it out and obtain a new culture from a reliable source.
How To Tell When A Culture Has Gone Bad Or You Have A Bad Batch
• Symptoms of a "bad" culture:
• Low acidity
• After fermenting for 8-11 days the tea is still very sweet-tasting; it is not metabolizing the sugar
• A new skin fails to form on the surface of the nutrient solution
• Colonies of green, black or neon yellow mold form on the culture
• Unpleasant smell
• Uncharacteristic flavor
• Undesired side effects
• Fruit fly eggs on the culture have hatched into little worms
• Uneven thickness, with holes
• Brown, dry skin on surface
• Flaccid, brown stringers clinging to culture
• Opaque, pearly, opalescent, translucent surface
• Too much or too little fizz
The culture goes bad when it has been placed in a nutrient solution that is too hot (over 120 degrees), or it has been handled carelessly, when bugs, fleas or flies have been permitted to get at it, when it has been in contact with metals, when it has been exposed to direct sunlight, plant spores in the air, dust, dirt, tobacco smoke or other toxic substances, or when it has mutated.
Black or bright yellow mold on the surface of the culture indicates contamination by aspergillis, a dangerous, toxic mold. This is deadly for people with AIDS or HIV. Toss out the whole mess and start over again, being very careful to keep everything very clean. Use a new culture.
Storing The Culture And The Beverage
The culture and the beverage are safely stored in glass containers only, because glass seems to be the only material (aside from Teflon, which is very expensive) that doesn’t leach toxic substances from the container into the beverage, where they can make you sicker instead of healthier. Storage should always be in glass containers, never, never in stainless steel, plastics of any kind (except Teflon,) enamel, ceramics, aluminum, copper, or crystal due to Kombucha’s acidity, which can eat through just about anything, eventually.
Some ceramics contain lead, some don’t. How can you tell which from which? By getting lead poisoning? Aluminum should be totally avoided, unless you have a morbid desire to watch your memory disappear completely. Then your mind fails and you turn into a vegetable.
Nickel can be leached out of stainless steel by Kombucha, according to the head chemist at Dow-Corning, who says so. Nickel is a heavy metal and heavy metals do terrible things to the body. Glass is safest of all.
You can store your Kombucha in a glass container at room temperature in a cool place, or you can store it in the refrigerator. It continues to be alive and the fermentation process will also continue, eventually producing its own new baby which will slowly appear out of nowhere in the liquid. Some people like them and others think they’re yucckie, but they can be filtered out through a clean cloth or a fine sieve. When stored in a cool place the culture and beverage remain viable for months.
Lifting the Veil;
Correcting Popular Myths
Betsy Pryor has devoted years to the study of Kombucha. Here are some of her words of wisdom:
• Did you know that Kombucha will try to detoxify its bowl?
And that growing the Kombucha in a plastic, ceramic, colored glass or crystal bowl can actually harm you?
• And that babies grown from that Kombucha are also contaminated, so that starting
• over with a clear, uncontaminated, Pyrex-type bowl will not solve the problem?
Obtaining A Kombucha Culture
If you don’t have a friend who might give you one of her babies, you can order a registered Kombucha culture from Betsy Pryor at Laurel Farms. They guarantee it will produce Kombucha, or they’ll give you another, free. They will send you a letter in advance, telling you what to obtain in order to celebrate the birth of your Kombucha baby. They have been growing their “super strain” for years. Their Kombucha kitchen has been inspected and approved by the FDA. Lab tests show their cultures to be the most biologically active of all those tested. The pedigree of their mother culture traces directly to Manchuria. If you can get a note from your physician stating that you have HIV, cancer, or MS they will provide you with a culture at their cost, $15. Otherwise, you can get a baby from them by sending $39 US (check or money order) to:
Laurel Farms, P.O. Box 2896, Sarasota, FL 34230
Web site: LaurelFarms.com
Betsy Pryor and Sanford Holst have written a little book that provides up-to-date information on the effects of Kombucha and clear photos that take you step-by-step through its preparation: Kombucha Phenomenon: The Health Drink Sweeping America.
Further information, recommended reading:
The Essential Kombucha (The Manchurian Mushroom) by Andra Anastazia Malczewski and Deborah Capps. ISBN 188436005X
Highly recommended, both thorough and accurate.
Kombucha, The Miracle Fungus, by Harald W. Tietze. ISBN
An interesting book from Australia, includes lots of anecdotes and herbal tips:
Kombucha, Healthy Beverage and Natural Remedy from the Far East, Its Correct Preparation and Use, by Gunther W. Frank. ISBN 3-85068-3370
Includes the origins and early history of Kombucha, as well as the scientific research conducted in the former Soviet Union and all about its proper preparation, this is a well-researched book.
Tea Fungus Kombucha: The Natural Remedy and its Significance in Cases of Cancer and other Metabolic Diseases, By Rosina Fasching. ISBN 3 85068 231
A well respected German physician, Rudolph Sklenar, successfully treated cancer patients with Kombucha over a 30 year period. You’ll find everything you ever wanted to know about his approach in this thin volume written by his niece.