If you aren’t familiar with kombucha, then it might sound like a scary idea to make a drink that is fermented with live probiotics. Is it safe to ferment the tea and drink it? Most of the time, we use refrigeration and other methods of preservation to prevent our food from fermenting, so it can be a foreign idea to purposefully let a drink ferment.
Safety is a common concern for people who are just starting out, but there is no reason to be concerned with safety if you are following the right instructions. In fact, kombucha is very safe when it is made properly, so you just need to be sure that you are using the right ingredients and following the provided instructions. Remember, this health drink has been around for thousands of years!
There are minimal safety concerns from drinking kombucha if it isn’t prepared properly. But, these problems are easily avoidable by making it the right way. The truth is that kombucha is just about fool-proof when it’s made using the right recipe! Here are a few common questions related to the safety of kombucha:
Remember that the SCOBY is the live “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast,” which provides many of the health benefits because of the fermentation. One of the best ways to ensure the safety of your kombucha drink is by purchasing a kit , because you will have the peace of mind to know that the SCOBY was created in a safe way.
If you decide to start from scratch, your SCOBY should begin as a smooth film growing on top of the sweet tea. A healthy SCOBY has a smooth consistency throughout the process. If your SCOBY looks fuzzy, dusty, or colorful you should start over, as these are signs of an unhealthy SCOBY. The color of a healthy SCOBY ranges from white to a lightish brown. To see what a healhty SCOBY looks like throughout the kombucha process follow this link.
Growing a SCOBY from scratch:
doesn't look fuzzy, dusty, or colorful
a white to lightish brown color
It can be very beneficial to drink kombucha every day, because you will be supporting your body with healthy levels of probiotics. Remember that kombucha is an acidic drink, which means that you shouldn’t over-do it.
Keep in mind that the pH levels of the kombucha impact the amount that you should be drinking. For example, kombucha that is over-fermented contains higher levels of acids, which might cause too much burden on the stomach acids. These acids are weak in a kombucha drink that is made correctly, and they actually alkalize the body through the natural processes that occur when you drink it. But, improper fermentation can result in too much acid, which can cause digestive troubles.
When you follow the instructions to make your own kombucha, it is perfectly safe to drink 4 – 8 fluid ounces per day.
Yes, all fermented and cultured foods, including kombucha, contain small amounts of alcohol. There is no reason to be concerned though, because the alcohol is naturally occurring and it is very minimal. The alcohol content varies from one batch to the next, but if you are following the recipe then it shouldn’t be enough to impair you, especially when you are drinking the kombucha in small amounts.
There are differing opinions about whether kombucha is safe for women who are pregnant or nursing. The general consensus is that YES, kombucha is safe for pregnant women… but this information often comes with a disclaimer or warning. Pregnant women might be more susceptible to pathogens, which could potentially harm the baby. So, you need to be sure that you are drinking a batch of kombucha that was properly fermented and free of the harmful pathogens.
If you are pregnant and you’ve never had a drink of kombucha before, then you need to be very cautious about introducing it into your diet. In some cases, people have a negative reaction to their first introduction of the drink. So, start out slowly with a small amount each day, and then gradually increase the amount that you are drinking. Remember, it is a very potent drink, so a little bit goes a long way!
When you are brewing your kombucha and you are pregnant or nursing, just follow the instructions to make sure that you aren’t over-fermenting or under-fermenting the drink. Getting the right pH balance is an important aspect to ensure the safety of your drink.
Also, keep in mind that kombucha offers detoxifying benefits, so stay hydrated to allow the body to flush the toxins and prevent those toxins from being passed onto your baby.
Even though kombucha is perfectly safe for adults, it isn’t a good idea to give this health drink to children. When a child is under the age of 4, their digestive system isn’t fully developed. Even though certain strains of pathogens within the drink aren’t a threat to an adult, they may potentially be harmful to young children. So, it is best to avoid giving this drink to children. Other types of fermented foods are usually better for children, such as kefir.
The pH levels of the tea actually change depending on the age of the drink. When you are starting the fermentation, the pH of the tea is typically just below 7.0 because it is just a combination of water, sugar, and the SCOBY. As the sugar is converted into the beneficial acids that are within the drink, then the pH levels slowly drop and it becomes just a little more acidic. It starts out sweet but changes to a sour taste after it ferments.
The ideal pH for a finished batch of kombucha should be between 3.5 and 2.5. Fermenting your kombucha to the ideal pH range is important because in that range: 1.) native bacteria and yeast thrive, and 2.) the high acidity disrupts foreign and potentially harmful microorganism contamination. You can buy cheap kombucha pH strips here.
There are several signs that you can watch for to be sure that your kombucha is fermenting properly. The best way to check the batch is based on the flavor and aroma, and this test will be more effective over time as you become more familiar with the correct flavor and aroma for the drink.
What you should be looking for while fermenting your kombucha:
1. The flavor and aroma seem a bit like a vinegar and they aren’t as sweet as when you first started
2. You can see a baby SCOBY or a haze that starts to form on the top of the liquid
3. The color of the liquid changes and becomes lighter or it turns cloudy
One aspect to maintaining the safety of your kombucha is to make sure that it is being stored correctly. Keep reading to learn more about the proper storage techniques for kombucha.