Drink Kombucha and your head will explode and you will die a horrific death! Or maybe not.

The Blob, run for your life, kombucha is on the loose!

What I know about Kombucha:

1) It is the product of tea, sugar, and a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY for short).

2) Moderate consumption of Kombucha has helped me personally reduce cravings for Coffee, Alcohol, and Carbohydrates. I feel better when I consume less of these, especially Carbohydrates.

3) While it is commercially available I like what I make myself much better because:

  • What I make myself tastes better.
  • It has less sugar (carbohydrates are a problem for me, remember?).
  • Homemade food (at least homemade by me), of any type, I trust more than the output of the agriculture industry which regularly provides us food contaminated with all kinds of potentially deadly things.

4) Specific compounds in Kombucha have known health benefits.

5) There is no mushroom or fungus involved.

What I don’t know about Kombucha: A lot.

However, when I see “scientific commentary” about something I consume like honey, eggs, or Kombucha I am always concerned about who is paying for the science.  Pharmaceutical companies and agribusiness don’t like things which are hard to replicate.  Like the complex interaction of bees in their environment to produce raw honey which is better for you than sterile controllable cane sugar. Raw Honey and strained factory honey bears the same relationship as artisan cheese does with pasteurized cheese food.

I am also concerned the scientist in question is actually working in his area of expertise. A specialist in mushrooms is probably not qualified to comment on fermentation driven by yeast and bacteria. There is a lot of junk science on the internet. Ten seconds on Google will provide equally convincing opposing “science”.

I see these same kinds of arguments used to suppress artisan cheeses, raw milk production, raw honey, and eggs from urban chickens. Lots of the things that are clearly better when produced on a less than industrial scale.

Lots of food can be made badly in your own home. Careful thought about how you are going about things can make a huge difference. I wouldn’t recommend anyone produce Kombucha jar by jar restarting the process over every time. You have to work too hard and the process has lots of points where contamination is a problem. Continuous brew is a superior option because it maintains pH at a level where the SCOBY suppresses competition and allows more complex compounds with known health benefits to form.

Many foods have antibiotic compounds or properties, like cranberry juice, which is specific for urinary tract infections. Many things you consume every day produced by the agriculture industry have antibiotic, hormonal or chemical content as a result of poor practices involving treating animals and plants for problems they do not have. Now that is something I am worried about.

The Kombucha SCOBY is related to the Mother of Vinegar used in Vinegar production. It can become a Mother of Vinegar if mishandled. I am guessing the reverse is possible as well. Should we stop using vinegar too? Home-brewed beer is probably a bad idea as well. I have heard some real horror stories.

I have no clue as to the mystical origin of Kombucha, or yogurt, or lots of fermented foods. I don’t care either. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this is a legitimate wild brewed/fermented substance which can provide real and measurable benefits. I would suggest anyone interested in Kombucha start slowly and see what happens to them personally. I would not suggest anyone with a suppressed immune system have anything fermented without checking with a doctor. I eat kale and sourkraut because they are good for me, and I am happier when I have them. The same goes for Kombucha.

There are people out there that want to convince you (because it sells advertising) the internet is a scary place you should stay away from. When you engage in homemade fermentation or accessing the internet, you must take responsibility for your own actions, pay attention to the process, and monitor your result.

9 Comments on “Drink Kombucha and your head will explode and you will die a horrific death! Or maybe not.

  1. Hi Kevin,

    Wonderful post! From an (admittedly biased) observer, I wholeheartedly agree!

    A few facts for your readers:

    There have been only 2 cases of “suspected toxicity” on record in the US over the last 20 years (at least), neither of which was supported by any tests or anything. Conjecture by a couple of doctors, that’s it. No links demonstrated.

    The FDA “warning” about Kombucha? Researcher Michael Roussin debunked that as bogus 15 years ago, even publishing the FDA’s own documents that showed they never tested any Kombucha tea samples.

    There is currently not one single case of kombucha MOLD toxicity on record anywhere in recent US history that anyone has ever been able to point me to. For all the hand wringing, it has never happened, or if it has, the sickness has been so mild as to go completely unreported by any media outlets. And kombucha mold is very rare, unless you are being sloppy. I have had mold once in 7 years, and I brew dozens of batches at a time.

    I hope people will ask around, they may be surprised to find out that their neighbors know all about Kombucha. I trust the wisdom of communities and generations.

    Thanks again for bringing the Kombucha love!

    Peace & Love,

    Hannah Crum
    The Kombucha Mamma

  2. Hi Guys

    I find it amazing that our society will trust the pronouncements/wisdom of a scientific board over that of thousands of years of actual human experience!

    That experience has shown kombucha to be a safe, easy to produce, stable, beneficial and healthful product. I, and everyone I know who has tried it,experiences the same. I’ve used it for more than five years. And I’ve consumed more than a quart of it a day for several years without any problems.

    The same process/agencies that cast doubt on kombucha have brought us a legion of ‘healthy’ products and additives. Many of these, even in the short term of a few decades, have proved to be very unhealthy.

    Time has proven kombucha to be safe and effective. It’s just tea, sugar, water and some fermentation. Think cheese, wine, yogurt, vinegar, yeast raised bread, sauerkraut, etc.

    There’s just no end to what our government can save us from! What’s next on the hit list, homemade sauerkraut?

    Let’s all hope they have something better to do. Maybe like figure out how healthy bread, which is just flour, water, sugar, salt and yeast, can be turned into something, with a list of impossible to pronounce approved ingredients, longer than the words in this post is still on shelves.

    Regards – Dennis Murrell

    • Thanks for the great comment and support Dennis. Speaking of homemade sauerkraut there should be a new podcast soon. Natalie is working hard to set it up with Bryan over at AskBryan. We recently bought a copy of Wild Fermentation and it has inspired us to branch out in our fermentation activities.

    • Always good to see you here Dennis.
      I have been thinking about making a sourdough starter and bakeing my own bread again. I will let you know how it goes.
      -Kevin

  3. Ive had some really positive results in regards to my health and over all well-being because of drinking it regularly .I’m kinda hooked on the flavour. and now ive started making it in a continuous brew rig. There s so much to learn and it really is an art form.each batch is different than the last ,and lots of things seem to influence the final product. ive learned a few things so far to make really good tasting booch. you cant skimp on the steeping process.Anyone who has brewed a gallon or more of tea on the stove knows its takes an eternity to cool off if you boil the water.But steeping in cold or room temperature water, no matter how dark the tea becomes and no matter how long you do it, will make some weak-tasting booch. Do it the old-fashioned way and patiently wait for the water to get below 90 degrees,which seems to be the upper tolerance range of sen’ior scoby. The other thing too is make sure the sugar is fully dissolved, it helps everything happen faster and better. at times i get to the point where if there is a big scoby ,the fermentation seems to happen a little too quickly for a whole lot of flavour development. i have yet to determine the scoby to tea ratio that suits me.and i do understand what i call awesome ,others may call tart or raw

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