My first step into the world of fermentation began with kombucha. In fact, I loved the stuff so much, I served it at my wedding! I spent time playing with tea flavors, fruit juices and even experimented with honey. Yes, kombucha and I had something special going! But over time, I began to question: is kombucha healthy?
The deeper I delved into the world of fermentation, the less certain I became. Finally, I gave it up for good.
Why I Quit Drinking Kombucha
It’s the sugar, folks. In my research, I kept running into warning notes that caught my attention!
Did you know kombucha isn’t recommended for individuals who can’t handle blood sugar spikes? Or for people who struggle with candida (a yeast infection that feeds on sugar)?
Did my wholesome, home brewed kombucha contain large amounts of sugar? A product that is actually known for suppressing the human immune system?
I began doing some anxious research. In my searching, I only found conflicting ideas.
It was after learning to ferment other types of liquid and experimenting in my own kitchen that I stopped drinking kombucha. Yes, because of sugar!
A Simple Breakdown of My “Why”
What I learned was this: when sweet liquid starts to ferment, natural yeasts begin converting the sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Whether you’re making kombucha, vinegar or alcohol itself, this stage is known as the “alcohol phase,” recognized by the tiny bubbles that appear on the sides of your fermenting container and occasional foam on the surface of the brew.
If left alone, natural yeasts will continue to feed on sugars until there’s nothing left to consume.
Sounds good, right?
My issue? This process usually takes anywhere from several weeks, to several months. The length of time is dependent on numerous factors, such as the amount of sugar used, temperatures and the strength of your ferment.
When I did my research, most people recommended drinking your kombucha around day 14. Refrigeration is necessary to delay the fermenting action (sugar being converted to alcohol), so that the drink is still sweet and desirable.
My problem? I realized I was still getting a boat-load of sugar when I’d sip on this ‘healthy’ drink!
Even though it contains good bacterial cultures, I realized consuming kombucha on a regular basis also meant a blood sugar spike on a regular basis. Due to my already compromised immune system, I didn’t want that!
I had to face the fact: for the sake of my health, it was time to wave goodbye to this popular drink.
Trying To Find My Way Around It
I have a confession to make: even after making this discovery, I didn’t want to give up kombucha! Instead, I tried using raw honey. At one point I even fermented my “bucha” past the alcohol phase and let acetobactor transform the liquid into vinegar.
Did you know that’s what happens to kombucha if you let it go? Due to it’s high sugar content, it creates a very strong vinegar!
I tried adding that to fresh pressed apple cider and other raw fruit juices. Problem was, the fruit juice worked it’s way through the fermenting phases very quickly when given a lug of kombucha vinegar to jump-start the process!
Finally, I gave up. My love affair with kombucha was over and done.
The Thing I Finally Settled For
And then, I discovered something I can drink in the place of kombucha. Anytime I give something up in life, I like to find a replacement for it (so I don’t go back on my resolve). My replacement for kombucha is fruit kvass! With this, I’ve chosen to be content (at least I’m trying!).
Instead of seeping caffeinated tea, adding white sugar, kombucha starter and letting it ferment, I learned to create fruit kvass in my own kitchen. You can make it with pure fruit juice or create a water infusion with fruit itself. It’s a healthy alternative to kombucha, particularly if you use raw, fresh-pressed juice!
I have to admit, there are times when I find myself wishing I hadn’t discovered the high sugar content of kombucha. But then, when I think of the people who have written me to say “thank you” or “it all makes sense now,” I’m glad!
To those who can’t handle blood sugar spikes, who struggle to keep candida infections under control, people who wrestle with health issues, with inflammation that grows worse with sugar consumption …I’m glad I made this discovery for your sake, for yours and for my own.