[Transcript] – The #1 Go-To Resource For All Things Kombucha (And How Bacon, Kombucha & Alcohol Mix!).

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2016/03/the-best-kombucha-book/

[0:00] Kimera Koffee

[1:15] Harry's Razor

[2:10] Organifi Green Juice

[3:13] Introduction

[4:46] Kombucha

[6:22] About Hannah Crum

[9:32] Scoby and Scoby Jerky

[13:06] What Kombucha Is

[14:38] What Kombucha Does For Your Body

[19:45] Low Alcohol Beverages in Our Ancestry

[23:00] Legality of Kombucha In The States

[25:09] Caffeine in Kombucha

[29:21] Sugar In Kombucha

[34:42] The Water Used In Kombucha

[37:10] Getting More Bubbles In Kombucha

[41:35] How To Make Sure Kombucha Is Mold Free

[44:22] Hannah's Favorite Recipe

[49:27] Kombucha As More Than Just A Drink

[52:42] Pork-tini

[57:21.2] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, folks!  It's Ben Greenfield!  And this podcast is brought to you by Kimera Koffee.  What is Kimera Koffee? Well it's not just coffee that, as I've told you on previous podcasts, it’s infused with premium-grade nootropics which help you do things like increase focus, power output, and cognition, but it also tastes really, really good.

They grow this stuff in an area of the Dominican Republic, deep in the central mountain range of the Dominican Republic, where there are these microclimates known for producing extremely high-quality coffee.  It's at an altitude of 5,000 feet. They get it from single estate coffee plantations, so you get this really robust, complex, nutty flavor. And their beans are wet processed.  What that means is that the beans are mold-free, and we all know that mold-free coffee is a very trendy thing in today's coffee culture.

So you can check out Kimera Koffee, you can get the nootropics, you can get the flavor. You can get it all at kimerakoffee.com, K-I-M-E-R-A-K-O-F-F-E-E dot com.  And when you go there, you can use discount code Ben to save 10% off anything from kimerakoffee.com.

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And then, finally, today's show is brought to you by pretty much the best tasting green juice on the face of the planet.  It's called Fitlife Organifi.  Now I'm going up to hunt and fish in Canada.  I will leave tomorrow morning. And when I'm out there, I'm eating lots of beef jerky, and lots of pemmican, but I'm not necessarily getting kale and spinach smoothies.  However, the cool thing is they make these little to-go packets, and they're chock full of spirulina, and chlorella, and mint, and turmeric, and a whole bunch of other things that give you all the benefits of juicing with none of the mess and none of the heavy blunders.  So you can check this stuff out at bengreenfieldfitness.com/fitlife. And when you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/fitlife, you can save 20% off with discount code Ben.  So check it all out.

And now, we are going to move on to today's episode that contains everything you need to know about the most fantastic drink on the face of the planet: kombucha.  Let's do this, baby.

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“The sugar is a crucial component to the fermentation process.  So I get that people out there are afraid of sugar because as we often do in this country, we'll demonize an entire thing without looking at the finer, more sophisticated point.  It's not that the sugar is bad for you.  It's how is it being metabolized in the process.”  “They believe that the reason Egyptians planted grain wasn't to make bread, but was to make beer because they had to ferment the water in some way in order to make it potable.  And this is what we need to remember about our fermented drinks, and friends, is they've been with us since the beginning of time.”

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

Ben: Hey, folks.  What's up?  This is Ben Greenfield.  I don't know if you can hear the sound of bubbles pouring, but that's me pouring a giant glass of kombucha.  I drink kombucha almost every day, and what you just heard me pouring was my wife's ginger kombucha blend, which is oh so good.  Oh so good for the tummy, for the brain.  It's freaking addicting.  I even put vodka in this stuff sometimes for an evening cocktail.

And today's podcast is actually gonna be all about kombucha.  We're gonna tackle a lot.  For example, did Lindsay Lohan really get drunk on kombucha?  Well, we may or may not get to that one.  But we are gonna talk about how much caffeine and sugar is in kombucha, whether you can eat that slimy scoby thing that floats to the top of kombucha, how you can make kombucha more bubbly if you're making it yourself, whether kombucha can be used for things other than just drinking, I think you'll be surprised, and a lot more, including a little bit of a kombucha cocktail recipe for those who like to live it up and party with your kombucha a little bit.

We're gonna tackle all these topics and more because I just got done reading a book that is, I think, heavier than half the kettlebells in my gym.  It's called “The Big Book of Kombucha”.  This thing is, in my opinion, the number one resource guide for anybody who not just wants to make their own kombucha, but wants to know pretty much everything that there is to know about kombucha.

The gal that wrote it was on a podcast with me last year.  Her name is Hannah Crum. She's also known as the Kombucha Mamma, and in the previous episode that she did with me, and I'll link to that in the show notes by the way.  And you can access the show notes for this episode at bengreenfieldfitness.com/kombucha2. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/kombucha2.  If you don't know how to spell kombucha, then start Googling that.  Anyways though, this book has like 400 recipes, 270 different flavors, it's got beautiful illustrations, it's got like kombucha history, it's got food recipes, it's got a ton of different like health benefits and health cares that you can use kombucha for.  It's amazing.  It really is a fun book to read.  And if you're interested in kombucha at all, even if you're just like buying your kombucha at Whole Foods, you should still give it a read.

So Hannah, like I mentioned, she also goes by the Kombucha Mamma, she's the founder of this website called Kombucha Kamp.  And it is the most visited website in the world for kombucha information, and recipes, and advice.  She is a master brewer, you can actually be a kombucha master brewer, and she mentors thousands of new and experienced kombucha brewers on her website.  She even does consultation services for people who are starting up kombucha businesses who wanna like sell their own kombucha.  Now, she also makes freshly grown, full-size kombucha starter culture, these things called kombucha kits that she ships to people all around the world if they wanna make their own kombucha.  And I'll link to all of her goodies over in the show it at bengreenfieldfitness.com/kombucha2

But today, we're gonna go beyond what we talked about on our last episode which was basically like what kombucha is and where it comes from, and today we're going to talk about some more fun kombucha topics.  And I gotta tell you, if you are listening to this episode, listen on.  You don't have to go back and listen to the first episode that we did, but at some point go back and listen to the first episode too if you've just never tapped into the wonderful world of kombucha.  So, Hannah, let me take a quick sip here, welcome to the show.

Hannah:  Thanks, Ben!  Great to be back!

Ben:  Yeah.  It's pretty awesome to have you back, and congratulations on this freaking great book.

Hannah:  Thank you!  It's definitely a labor of love.  Took many years to manifest, but I think you did a great job summarizing all of the terrific points in it.  I hope people really dig in and enjoy all the meat that's there to chew on.

Ben:  Well, there's not really any meat.  It's just all kombucha. (laughs)

Hannah: (laughs)

Ben:  I have too much meat.  You can use it as like a little bit of a marinade, can you?

Hannah:  Absolutely.  Marinate.  And then the scoby jerky.  Now, I know, I'm a meat eater, you're a meat eater, but there are some folks who don't eat meat, and this can become a really tasty jerky substitute, meat jerky substitute. And you can flavor it all different kinds of ways.  It can also be like a squid sashimi substitute.

Ben:  Oh my gosh!  Okay.  But, you know, I was gonna ask you to describe first what kombucha is, but let's start here.  Describe what the scoby is, and tell me how you'd make scoby jerky.

Hannah:  So SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.  Essentially, the bacteria, gluconacetobacter, is our dominant bacteria.  They throw out these nanofibers of cellulose.  So like spinning little threads, think of it like that, and all of them merge together to create this dense pellicle.  And that's what the mother is.  It's this bacteria pellicle with yeast strands hanging, and then yeast strands use bodies in it, and that's our scoby.  It's like a mothership.

It goes from batch to batch, eating up the tea and sugar, and turning it into this really delicious, refreshing tea vinegar.  Although some people might pause at that word vinegar, it's not as sour as regular vinegar.  So in terms of scoby jerky, what we do, because these cultures are so prolific, right, they reproduce with every batch, and you end up with just a jar after jar of scoby hotels and you start to wonder, “Oh my gosh!  Are they just gonna take over my whole house?”

Ben:  Yeah.  Well, my wife gives them away, 'cause she makes kombucha and she gets all these scobies.  And by the way, for those of you listening in, that's like the, almost like the solid stuff that you find in the bottle, or the big solid thing that forms if you're making your own.  You no doubt know what it is.  But, yeah, my wife gives it away.  It is just, it's just like this big thing of cellulose that grows.

Hannah:  Exactly right!  And it's indigestible cellulose which might sound like, “Well, why do I wanna eat it then?” But in fact, this type of cellulose has a positive effect on the body.  It's indigestible fiber, insoluble fiber.  That's it.  And so it comes through like a broom and it sweeps out with it excess sugar, excess hormones.  So it's really great for just clearing out the system.  And the jerky is really nice.  So basically, what we do is we just cut up the SCOBY into pieces and we marinate them with all different kinds of spices, and soy sauce, and whatever, you know, makes your mouth water.  Because it's hydrophilic, meaning it loves water, it'll soak up all of that flavor really quickly.  And then, we just put it in a dehydrator at a low temperature because we wanna maintain…

Ben:  Oh.  You put it in a dehydrator.

Hannah:  Yes, yes.  I mean, and if you have like an outside hanging, you know, dehydrator, you could do that too.  But we like to do it at that low temperature to help maintain the bacterial activity in the product.  You dehydrate it and it becomes this really tough, chewy leather, and that might sound like, “Well, who wants to chew on that like shoe leather,” and that's why you wanna make sure that the pieces are small.  And then we have another way we do it to make the fruit leather, and you could do a jerky using the fruit leather technique.  So with that, we're putting it in a blender.  Don't put it in a food processor.  It gets too stringy.  But you put in a blender, baby in a blender. LOL. (laughs) You remember those jokes?  Okay, so you put the baby in the blender, you put some fruit in there that usually I like to just heat it up in the pan, a little strawberries, little blueberries.  You mix it all together in a 50:50 ratio, then you spread it out on your dehydrator sheets, and that is a little bit easier of a texture to chew.  It really is like a Fruit Roll-Up, but again you're getting that nutritional benefit from the bacteria being present, from that insoluble fiber, all of those good things.

Ben:  That's awesome.  I never ever thought, I mean, I'm gonna rush out and tell my wife after this podcast episode 'cause she gives them away or she throws them out sometimes.  We gotta make scoby jerky.  That's awesome.

Hannah:  Yes!

Ben: Okay.  And that recipe's in this book, right?

Hannah:  It is!  Yeah!  The turkey and the fruit leather are both in here.

Ben:  Okay.  Cool.  So, now we're gonna back up, we're going to reverse engineer this. You briefly mentioned what the scoby is and how it's like this bacteria-based cellulose growth, but in terms of kombucha, if it's possible, just give us like the two minute overview on what kombucha is, like how it's made and what it is.

Hannah:  It's fermented tea.  So just like yogurt is fermented milk, kombucha's fermented tea.  It's a very similar process and that we're using a culture.  The culture inoculates the substrate, the substrate, in the case of kombucha, is tea and sugar, and tea here refers to Camellia sinensis.  So that can be green tea, black tea, white tea, they all come from the same plant.  How they're processed is what gives them their different name.  But you don't wanna use something like a peppermint tea or a chamomile tea, unless you're doing an experimental batch which is the more advanced stuff covered in the book.  So, it's tea and sugar.  We put the culture in there, it ferments, and then, after a week or so, if it has that sweet-sour balance that you like, you harvest it, and start the process over again.  I have a little song.  You wanna hear my song, Ben?

Ben:  We could do that.  We could do a song.  Maybe I can sing along.  How's it go?

Hannah:  Totally.  Yeah.  You'll get it by the second time.  It goes (sung to the tune of the Jackson 5's ABC) “Kombucha tea / easy as one, two, three / brew sweet tea / add a SCOBY / wait a week / and then repeat”.

Ben:  Yeah.  I'm not gonna sing that.

Hannah: (laughs)

Ben:  But it sounds great.  I like it.  Maybe it needs some music.  Maybe I'll dig out my ukulele next time.  I'll be ready.

Hannah:  That'll be awesome!  Yes!

Ben:  Okay.  So that's what kombucha is.  And the reason I asked you to just briefly tell us is because we went over it in such hardcore detail in the last episode.  I always hate to cover stuff we've already covered.  So, now that we know what kombucha is, we kinda got our heads wrapped around what this like slimy stuff is. Everybody talks, Hannah, about kombucha and how it improves your gut microbiota, and it improves the bacterial profile in your gut.  That's one reason that I drink it is because I constantly try and  expose my microbiome to yogurt, and kefir, and sauerkraut, and natto, and as many different fermented foods as possible because that's what it takes to have a thriving healthy immune system.  

My wife does the same, my kids do the same.  I advise people who listen to this podcast to branch out and not just like switch up your probiotic brands if you're just using like one brand of probiotics all the time, but to switch up the kombuchas that you drink, and the different types of fermented foods that you use.  But, and this is something that the light bulb kind of went off for me regarding when I was thumbing through your book, kombucha does more for your body than just helping your gut, right?

Hannah:  Absolutely.  And what you're talking about is a thriving ecosystem, and when you consider there's 500 to 1,000 different organisms potentially living inside of your body, it makes sense why you need that whole diversity.  So kombucha not only has elements in a living form that confer a nutritional benefit to the body, which is what a probiotic is, it also creates healthy organic acids that literally cleanse the liver.  So if we recall that the liver is our filter, it's where the caffeine, the alcohols, the pharmaceutical drugs, the xenobiotics, anything that's gonna enter your body and potentially have a negative impact on it is gonna be filtered out by the liver.  Now the problem is we're overexposed to all of these different chemicals and our livers can't keep up.  So even though we naturally create gluconic and glucuronic acid in our bodies, it simply isn't there in a sufficient quantity in order to keep the engine and the liver running smoothly. And so kombucha specifically creates gluconic and glucuronic acid, which is why using sugar is so important because it has that glucose component to it.

But these acids, they bond to these toxic molecules.  And once that bond is created, it can't be broken.  And so we always encourage people to drink water because drinking water will then allow your body to flush those out of your system.  And so it's very important that we're not just drinking the kombucha, but we get a little water in there too.  You can even put the water right in your kombucha, especially if it's a very sour flavor, and maybe more intense than you like.  Or you can just have a little bit of water after you drink the kombucha.

Ben:  Well, there's this concept with the phase two liver detoxification where you're binding toxins that would normally be fat soluble with things like this gluconic acid and this glucuronic acid that you mentioned, and you're making them water soluble so they can get flushed out.

Hannah:  Exactly.

Ben:  When you think about that, that you're making these toxins water soluble, it does make sense to need to drink water when you're doing any kind of a liver flush. But doesn't the water that you drink as part of the kombucha actually count? I mean, wouldn't that count towards the water?

Hannah:  It definitely counts towards the water and truth be told, Ben, I'm not a huge water fan unless I'm putting kombucha or something in it.  I just don't think it tastes good.

Ben:  I add like electrolytes, I add peppermint oil, I add chocolate stevia.  I probably have like two glasses of actual, regular water per day.  Even in the morning when I get up, I do lemon oil or lemon juice and baking soda in my water.  So, yeah.  I agree.  Water is…

Hannah:  And I think you're hitting something on the head.  We never drank water.  We drank fermented water. We drank water with vinegar because the water in ancient times, and still to this day, right, will have pathogenic organisms in it, and that's not good for us.

Ben:  Really?

Hannah:  And so water, yeah.  Absolutely.  You know, they cause dysentery and all kinds of problems.  In fact, they believe that the reason Egyptians planted grain wasn't to make bread, but was to make beer because they had to ferment the water in some way in order to make it potable.  And this is what we need to remember about our fermented drinks, and friends, is they've been with us since the beginning of time.

The only reason we have been able to thrive on this planet, which is completely covered in bacteria, is because we created a bacterial forcefield out of the different things we were consuming.  So I'm not a huge fan of water, but I think that drinking fermented water in various formats or, like you said, adding all these different things to it is really what people are looking for, and especially when you consider most water is filtered, or all of the nutrients or minerals are potentially taken out of it.

I mean, if you're drinking living water coming out of the Earth that's been filtered through mountain rocks, that water's gonna taste dang good and that's some water I can get behind.  But for the most part, what most people have coming out of their taps is just not gonna be up to snuff.  And that's why having the kombucha is gonna be really great for that.

Ben:  Yeah.  I always thought our ancestors were just alcoholics.

Hannah:  No.  They're not because, in fact, those beers were low alcohol.  They weren't inebriating, per se.  They were like a meal.

Ben:  I did notice you talk about that in the book.  You know how I talk about how recovering alcoholics can actually benefit from drinking kombucha 'cause it does have like these trace amounts of alcohol in it, but you also mention, like kinda sticking to that ancestral theme, about carbonation, and alcohol, and beverages that our ancestors would have drank in the past.  Can you touch on that a little bit more in terms of like the role of healthy, low alcohol beverage in our ancestry?

Hannah:  Absolutely.  And I posit that alcohol is a vital nutrient.  And I know for most people, especially in this…

Ben:  Some people are pumping their fists right now.

Hannah:  They are.  They're freaking out.

Ben:  Some are running for the hills.

Hannah:  (laughs) Exactly right.  But it's because we have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol in this culture. Our culture doesn't create a climate of using alcohol medicinally, which is what it's always its original use has been for, and so we have a very skewed perspective on where it needs to where it fits into our cultural context.  But just to provide that context, alcohol's a preservative.  So it's something that would protect the ferment from having other organisms colonize with it.  And it also is a carrier.  You know, there are several herbs that we can't just make a tea out of, but that we need to put into alcohol.  And this is where our original medicines came from.   Our tinctures, our cough syrups, right?

Ben:  Yeah.  No.  I mean, like I use, I have high-proof grain alcohol that I've used for chaga tinctures, I've used it for THC tinctures.  Yeah.  I mean, alcohol is a fantastic carrier.

Hannah:  Exactly right.  And it does this in a couple ways. One, it thins the blood. So it's easier for your body to absorb the nutrition.  And secondarily, it relaxes the organism.  And as you know, Ben, stress is one of the biggest killers in people.  And so when you're consuming something that has it in these very trace amounts, so trace that it's not intoxicating, it's not inebriating, and in fact that glucuronic acid, gluconic acid help metabolize that alcohol quickly out of your system.  I've had people drink kombuchas and do breathalyzers, and they're blowing zero because they're just experimenting to see “Can I actually create any kind of intoxication from drinking this,” and it's incredibly difficult.  And, again, I realize that there's…

Ben:  Despite what Lindsay Lohan would say.

Hannah:  Well, I have a feeling that was spiked with vodka.  Like you like to do, Ben. (laughs) 

Ben:  I do.  I would know.  I actually do that sometimes in the event, later on we'll get into some of your recipes, but I do that.  I'll add lemon juice, a little vodka to some kombucha.  It's amazing.  It tastes great.

Hannah:  It's your healthy cocktails.

Ben:  Yeah.

Hannah:  This is what I think we're gonna come around to.  Life happens in cycles and so we're coming back to the roaring 20's.  My hope is that it's gonna be roaring, but for the right reasons.  It's gonna be healthy cocktails.  It's these farmer's market bartenders who are bringing all the fresh herbs back.  You know, we have to eat our flowers, we have to eat our plants, and we always consume them in these really interesting trace ways whether it's the herbs in your salad or whatever that might be.  And so to bring that back into a healthy perspective, a balanced perspective, it's not about being so intoxicated that you feel terrible the next day.  It's about enjoying the moment, but also having these other healthy things present so that you receive a net benefit from that consumption. 

Ben:  Yeah.  And I wanna talk about more than just alcohol, but before I ask you about caffeine and sugar, 'cause I wanna ask you about those and how they relate to kombucha, based on the alcohol component, like where are things at, for example, here in the States, in terms of legality?  Like can a kid go into a health food store and buy kombucha?  Is that legal in terms of the alcohol component?

Hannah:  Absolutely.  ‘Cause here's the thing to remember, Ben, is that fruit has alcohol.  Fruit juice has alcohol. Sodas, energy drinks, which is not probably what most people listening to this podcast are drinking, but if they are, they also contain trace amounts of alcohol and there's no anything on the label.  And so, we really feel that our product, as much as it had issues back in 2010, it's not an alcoholic beverage. People don't think, “Hey, I'm gonna grab a six of kombucha and slam these back and get wasted tonight,” you know.  It's not how people do it.  

And when you also remember that, historically, humans have always consumed these low alcohol fermented beverages, soft drink versus hard liquor, right?  Your root beer, your ginger ale, these were all traditionally fermented beverages.  Children consumed them.  There's even, I think in the book I mentioned negus, which was this Victorian wine punch that they would make for children's parties, you know.  So, again, we have a different perspective in the United States because of our history and relationship with alcohol, but when we look at all of human history, it's actually quite normal for us to be consuming trace amounts on a regular basis, not in an intoxicating way.

Ben:  Yeah.  Well, my kids drink it every day.  They get home from school, and usually they'll get out like a rice cake or some sourdough bread, and they spread some nut butter on that, usually like an almond butter, they get out some raw honey, they throw some blueberries on that, and they sit at the kitchen table, and have that and a glass of kombucha.  It's like clockwork when they walk in from school every day.

Hannah:  That's a better snack that I had growing up.  Little Debbies and…

Ben:  That's right.  Little Debbies.  Yeah, and the little, I forget what the name of the stuff that was coated with white, and I think it had like a red filling?  Do you remember that?

Hannah:  Yes!  All of those!  They were so foul.

Ben:  Used to have those like every day.

Hannah:  Totally.  Sounds like they're eating a way better snack than you were.

Ben:  Totally.  Okay.  So, shifting focus here from alcohol, another oh-so popular stimulant, caffeine.  I wondered this sometimes when I've had kombucha in the evening because I know the starter is, as you already mentioned, typically like a black tea, or green tea, or sometimes a white tea.  What goes on with the caffeine? Like how much caffeine is left after you ferment and you make the kombucha?

Hannah:  Well, before I tell you that amount, let me just put it in some perspective.  So, think about this.  When you drink a cup of tea, you have one tea bag to 6 to 8 ounces of water.  When we make kombucha, we're using three to five tea bags for an entire gallon.  So instead of sixteen teabags, which is what we would use if we were following that same ratio, we're reducing that by a quarter.  So already you're reducing the amount of potential caffeine available.  

Secondarily, just like caffeine stimulates our nervous system, it also stimulates the nervous system of the yeast.  And so the yeast, it starts to propel that fermentation process forward.  And so they metabolize some of the caffeine in that process.  In a properly fermented kombucha, you'll see it drop by 40% and down to like 1 to 12 milligrams per 8 ounces.  And a cup of tea has 12 to 80 milligrams, soda has 16 to 40, coffee is, you know, could be as high as 150.  So, just to put in perspective, kombucha has a very trace amount of caffeine compared to all these other beverages.

Now, why does it energize people?  Why do they feel so jazzed after drinking kombucha? There's a couple of reasons.  First of all, the acids are helping with digestion.  Imagine that post-Thanksgiving turkey dinner, you're a slot trying to digest everything.  If you drink kombucha or have fermented foods, you're gonna be able to cut through that a lot more quickly, and now you have more energy available to you.  

The second reason, again, is those B vitamins.  Kombucha has appreciable amounts of B12 and other B vitamins, and those are vitamins that provide nutrition, they catalyze energy, they get all kinds of things working.  And so, it's that combination of improved digestion and B vitamins where most of the energy comes.  And in fact, a lot of people, and you might be like this too, can drink kombucha at night and it does not have an adverse effect on your sleep habits.

Ben:  Yeah.  I haven't noticed an effect.  Now, kombucha, I believe I saw this in your book, there's a little bit of an adaptogenic effect as well, right, in terms of balancing out cortisol, adrenaline, epinephrine, and some of these excitatory neurotransmitters and hormones?

Hannah:  That is correct.  And because it is helping to bring the body back into balance, it's going to work differently in different people.  That's what adaptogens are is they help, really what they do is they help the body process stress.  And as we said before, the B vitamins, which helps our body process stress, those trace amounts of alcohol that relax our body, this is what allows us to then be exposed to higher levels of stress without throwing the body into total whack.

Ben:  Gotcha.  Okay.  Now, in terms of the caffeine, so that's obviously why, and I do that sometimes.  I'll have kombucha, for example, I use some relaxants at night, like magnesium for example, like Natural Calm Magnesium.  I like that as a nightly relaxant 'cause it gives you loose stool in the morning and it relaxes you in the evenings, so it's a nice little one-two combo.  But I'll mix that sometimes in with the kombucha, and I'll have that in the evening.  I've never noticed that it kept me up, but I've always wondered at the back of my mind if there was much caffeine in it.  So it sounds like it's very, very trace.

Hannah:  Very trace.  And I think people hear tea and they assume caffeine, but think about this too: tea has l-theanine, coffee doesn't.  And this is why when we drink coffee, we get those spiky caffeine effects verses with tea. We have the l-theanine which really helps the body process the caffeine in a gentler way.

Ben:  Yeah.  And there's actually been some really good research done on l-theanine in which they've shown that caffeine taken three hours, or closer to bedtime, can inhibit your ability to get into deep sleep cycles, and once you mix that with l-theanine, and it's about a 1:2 ratio of caffeine to l-theanine, you can actually block that wakefulness effect of caffeine.  It's really interesting.

Hannah:  It's like the balance, right?  It's the counterbalance to it.

Ben:  Yeah.  Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening, baby.  Now how about sugar?  We touched on this a little bit when I interviewed you last year about kombucha, but can you review what exactly happens?  Because we obviously are dumping, you know, my wife takes out the big old bag of processed sugar when she makes kombucha, and if anyone were to walk in our house, their jaw would drop open and they would cry heresy because Ben Greenfield has processed sugar on his counter.  But what's going on with the sugar during that fermentation process, and exactly, well let me put it this way.  Have you ever seen blood sugar testing?  Or do you know how much the blood sugar could potentially be spiked by drinking a bottle of kombucha, assuming that it's not the kombucha that you get from the grocery store in which they've added a bunch of sugar after the fermentation has completed?

Hannah:  To speak to that point specifically, there's a lot of folks anecdotally, and there's also research mentioned in the book about how kombucha does not spike the blood sugar because of the other elements present in it, and especially when you're drinking that more traditional fermented, tangier brew, it doesn't have the residual sugar present.  Many people have reported they've been able to reduce the amount of insulin they're taking, or go off of it completely as a result of incorporating kombucha into their diet.  So, we've heard a lot of really positive feedback from folks who do that and that it really just, again because of the way it's working with the liver, right.  It's when the liver isn't functioning properly that you see these types of spikes because it isn't able to metabolize the intake of sugar that's happening at that point.  Because kombucha assists the liver in processing more quickly, it then prevents those types of spikes from occurring in the first place.

And the real thing here is sugar's not for you.  Moreover, sugar, again like the alcohol, is a vital nutrient, but it's putting it in the proper balance, and in the proper quantities, and the proper form.  Consider the source.  Is it a high fructose corn syrup that's very processed?  Is it a chemicalized sugar that they're using to have a low calorie beverage? Those types of sugars are terrible and you should eliminate them from your diet.  But, you know, your DNA is made up of a sugar-phosphate backbone.  Granted that's not table sugar, but point being sugar is vital for all types of processes to exist.  So what the sugar does is it feeds the yeast.  The yeast eats that sugar and sugar again, is that sucrose.  So it's fructose and glucose, it starts cleaving that disaccharide into its monosaccharide components.  The yeast use a lot of the fructose that kind of spurs their process forward, and the glucose is utilized by the bacteria to create those gluconic, glucuronic acid metabolites.  

So the sugar is a crucial component to the fermentation process.  So, I get that people out there are afraid of sugar because as we often do in this country, we'll demonize an entire thing without looking at the finer, more sophisticated points.  It's not that the sugar is bad for you, it's how is it being metabolized in the process.  And, really, it gets down to, on average, if a properly brewed kombucha has about one to two teaspoons of fermented sugar per 8 ounces.  And again, this isn't disaccharides.  This is already split into monosaccharides, easier for the body to absorb. You don't have to break it down.  It's already broken down for you.

Ben:  Yeah.  And one of the things that I know is this gluconic and this glucuronic acid that the two different liver detoxifants that we talked about earlier, those actually help to, or the bacteria in kombucha help to convert some of that leftover glucose into those two acids.  And so, you actually wind up getting from the sugar and the kombucha, assistance for the liver.  And then I think there were two or three studies you highlighted in your book in which they found, and I believe they may have been animal studies, but regardless, they found that they actually were able to limit, or lower, blood sugar through the use of a fermented kombucha beverage.

Hannah:  That is correct.  And that's also what you're doing when you're eating the culture.  Because it pulls excess sugar from the body, excess hormones, cholesterol, things like that, that's also going to reduce that in the body as well.  So it works on several different levels to help keep everything flowing as it should and, yeah, there are a lot of studies done on animals, but I feel like the anecdotal information on kombucha, the reason it's so pervasive and the reason it's there is because people are experiencing this.  They're having this phenomenon.  And then, what's fascinating, and this is what dictates the science in the first place, right, the whole reason people then even research to try to figure this out is because it's already occurring. 

So I always try to help people remember and have a little perspective that the scientific method is a method, it's a method of inquiry, and it has to be applied properly in order to yield an accurate result.  But what is is that we experience science on a daily basis.  We experience gravity without even knowing that it's working.  You know what I'm saying?  So this phenomenon exist outside of, or in spite of, the science, but it's always fascinating to see when they are able to apply that method and then identify what those underlying components are.  And you're right, it's the sugar and it's the tea.

Ben:  Now, in terms of the actual water that you use for kombucha, I'm curious what you do as far as this is concerned.  Like if someone is using your book, or they're using a recipe to make their own kombucha at home, where does water fit in?  And the reason I ask this is because I'm a little bit of a water nerd.  When I was growing up, my dad was a gourmet coffee roaster and a high-end espresso machine repairman, and he really got into, and is still into, this concept that water is not only able to, for example, be structured and have a crystalline lattice-like component to it, but that the type of water that you use for example, espresso or for coffee can drastically affect the flavor and the quality of the coffee.  When you look at a kombucha, do you take into consideration the water component much?

Hannah:  I do and I don't, and here's both.  I think if you're a commercial producer taking the water into account, and there are people like your dad and others out there who craft special waters for using with coffee or using with tea, they have certain mineral components added to them that yield a better tasting flavor, I think that's definitely something to consider if you're making a product to sell to people.  But at home, you may not have the time or energy to deal with that.  What's most important about the water with kombucha is that it's chlorine free.  Now we personally, our water supply is filtered and then also with a fluoride filter because we're trying to reduce the amount of contaminants present in our bodies.

Ben:  So that's like your home filter.  You're using that filter.

Hannah:  Exactly right.  You know, and I recommend everybody, filter to some extent their water because municipal sources have just all kinds of weird stuff in them.  And, you know, you're not gonna filter everything out, unfortunately.  But for most people at home, we don't want to overwhelm them with too many like, “Oh, I've gotta get the special water,” or the, you know…

Ben:  So why chlorine free?

Hannah:  Well, and you know I would love to see some more information on this, chlorine is anti-microbial.  And I always ask the question, “Anti-what microbial?” Because we say anti-microbial, but that's not the same as like it kills everything, right.  It means it kills certain types of things and, frankly, I would love to see more research showing “Does it actually have a negative effect or not?”  We always caution people against it, but I don't know that it's rooted in anything other than a simplified version of what we think could be going on.

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.  Now in your book, you go into all the various methods for brewing kombucha and all the different, basically the steps.  And we went through those in our last podcast that we did as well, but one thing that I love is bubbles and carbonation. And you even talk about this in the same section of the book where you talk about how our ancestors would drink low alcoholic drinks, in many cases, those would also be carbonated drinks.  And a lot of times, that was due to everything from like the alkalinity to the stomach soothing benefits.  For me, I love bubbles in my water.  I'm that guy that always order soda water at the restaurant and gets sparkling water.  And I even have one of these Soda Stream countertop sparkling water makers.  When it comes to kombucha, if you're making your own kombucha at home, what is the secret to getting it more bubbly, more carbonated?  So that when it opens, it's like a bottle of champagne.

Hannah:  The key is the yeast and how tight the lid is.  So the yeast is what drives the bubbles in the first place, and here's what I really love about bubbles, Ben, is that they are one of the primal signals that nutrition is present.  How did ancient people know fermentation was happening in the first place?  They couldn't see the microbes, they didn't even know it was microbes that were doing the work.  They saw bubbles.  So whether that was the sauerkraut they were making, the beer they were brewing, the fermented flour, whatever they were making, there were bubbles present.  And in fact, the root word for ferment is “fervere,” which means to boil because those bubbles look like foam on the top of boiling water.  So bubbles are something that we are all hardwired to seek because they signal nutrition is present.  And again, when we consider that yeast have all of those B vitamins in a living form, those amazing, wonderful, healthy B vitamins that can sometimes be hard to get in our diets, it makes a lot of sense why our bodies made that association.  So those bubbles are something that you instinctually crave because your body just knows it's good for it.

So, in the case of kombucha and getting those bubbles, you want to make sure there's yeast in the bottle.  And the yeast are the brown strands.  So when you're looking at your SCOBY, you've got the white pellicle, that's the bacteria part, and then you'll see little brown globs.  They might look, they might be dark brown, they might look greenish, they come in kind of a variety of colors, black, and you can see lots of those in the book. We have several pictures of what that looks like.  But that yeast, when you put it in the bottle, and you add a little fruit sugar, or ginger, or something that's gonna nutrify yeast, and you put a tight fitting lid on it, you start that fermentation process again which releases the CO2.  But now because we're in a tightly capped lid situation, all those bubbles remain trapped in the liquid.  

So when it comes time to open your bottle, you get that lovely bubbling.  And it's effervescent.  So sometimes you get a geyser, especially in the summer.  See?  So if you apply heat to the yeast, because they are temperature sensitive organisms, you can create bottle bombs in the summer.  So you've gotta be conscientious and conscious of what you're doing so that nobody gets hurt.  But in winter, you might notice, “I'm not getting the bubbles I'm looking for.  It's kinda slowed down.”  Again they’re temperature sensitive.  So even in the winter, I'll put my bottles on a heating mat because I wanna get more bubbles in the bottle just to make sure that I'm getting all that yummy goodness.

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.  So it's all about the temperature at which you place it in and it's the length of time as well, right?

Hannah:  Yes.  And a little bit goes a long way.  So when we're flavoring, and this is in the book, typically two to three days with the flavor is good.  If you're gonna store it for longer, then you wanna probably strain it out so that it doesn't start to degrade.  But that little bit of sugar just gets, again we're talking about microbes, so we don't need a lot.  A little bit goes a long way with kombucha.  You put a little bit of that in there, and that's also why when you use certain types of herbs, you aren't going to get carbonation because some of them will have a dampening effect or will minimize the ability of it to create carbonation.  So it's also looking at what type of flavoring agent you're using in order to get that carbonation, but temperature is truly key.

Ben:  Yeah.  What I'm drinking right now is a ginger-based kombucha that my wife made, and she wound up adding, this time, the ginger after the entire kombucha was made, and it's far more bubbly.  So I think that that was the case with the previous batch that she made.  But now, it's like ginger-infused kombucha that's so settling for the stomach and that's still very bubbly too.  It's amazing.  I'm addicted.

Hannah:  It's good stuff.

Ben:  Okay.  So you have a ton of recipes in your book that I wanna get to momentarily, but before we do, I have to tackle this issue.  Some people, especially people when they're making kombucha at home, get a little bit nervous 'cause you're fermenting and there's like mold involved.  How do you know if you have mold?  Or how do you know if you could be making bad kombucha that's gonna kill your kids when they walk in from school and make rice cakes?

Hannah:  (laughs)  You know, the boogie man is our own fear.  That's really what it is. I mean think about it like this: if kombucha's been around for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years and people have been fermenting it in conditions far less sanitary than what we consider sanitary today, how is it they didn't all just die?  Well, that's because it's a food, and like all foods, it very clearly indicates when it's not suitable for consumption, and that is with the presence of mold.  So, it's also such a low pH and the healthy organic acid profile has been demonstrated, and some of these studies are listed in the book, that it kills things like E. coli, listeria, salmonella on contact.  

So it has a negative effect on pathogens to begin with.  So it's kind of like you're working with something that's already sterile or already able to have a beneficial effect on the negative things in your environment.  So it's really safe and easy to make, especially if you're just following normal cooking practices.  And then, the mold is the only thing, it's not common, but just like when you see a piece of mold on bread or mold on a piece of bread, do you like, “Ahh!  Run away!  Run for the hills!  I'm gonna have a terrible reaction!”  No.  Sometimes you just pick the mold off…

Ben:  I just cut it off.

Hannah:  Exactly right!  Now, we don't do that with kombucha, and part of this is the emerging wisdom on fermented foods.  It used to be you had mold on top your sauerkraut, you just lump that off, and eat what's below.  Because people's immune systems are so severely compromised these days, sometimes they can't even handle that because the mold filaments will distend into the liquid.  And so with kombucha, we always just throw everything away and start with a fresh culture from our SCOBY hotel. Which is why we have a hotel in the first place, it's for just in case something might happen.

Ben:  Wait.  What do you mean you SCOBY hotel?

Hannah:  So a SCOBY hotel is a jar with kombucha cultures and liquid, and it just hangs out.  It's like all those cultures that your wife is giving away?  Just save a couple just in case.  Those become your backups, or when you're ready to do an experimental batch.  Let's say you wanna do a coffee kombucha or hibiscus kombucha and you don't want to use any tea at all, well now you've got an extra culture.  You don't have to worry about harming your original mother and you can do whatever you want with it.  So a SCOBY hotel is like every brewer should have one of these in their tool belt just as their back up in case.

Ben:  Yeah.  My wife has a whole section of the pantry full of things floating in jars.  It's crazy.  It's like you walked into a mad scientist lab where there's brains in jars and eye balls.  It's just all kombucha scobies and mothers.

So in your book, you actually do have a ton of recipes.  And by the way, you do have pictures of all these different type of molds, and you address this whole issue of bad kombucha and how to be careful, and so you've got a pretty big treatise about that in the book, and so I'm sure folks can dig into that for more.  But you also have more freaking kombucha recipes that I've ever seen in my life, and I'm curious, just 'cause I'm sure that you have tried many more than I have.  I mean everything from like pumpkin, to raisin jalapeno, to kombuhito, and all sorts of stuff.  What is, let's start with the non-alcoholic stuff, what's your favorite recipe?  Like if you had to choose one that you were gonna drink right now, what would be one of your favorite kombucha recipes that you think not a lot of people know about, but that people should know about?

Hannah:  Well, I'm tempted to say the one I'm drinking right now, which is elderflower lemon.  And I'm a huge fan of the elderflower liqueurs.  I'm a huge fan of drinking our flowers because it's something our ancient people did, and they, again, it's those trace amounts you get, whatever plant wisdom from it as well.  So I love elderflowers and rose petals…

Ben:  And do these come from the elderberry tree?

Hannah:  They do!  Yeah!

Ben:  ‘Cause I have an enormous, I found at the edge of our property, an enormous elderberry tree growing, and my wife picked a bunch of the berries about five months ago, and there's a giant vat of elderberry wine that's been fermenting in our garage for the past few months.  But you can use the flowers too?

Hannah:  Yeah!  The flowers are great!  They just have this really delicate lovely, intoxicating in my mind, just when I smell jasmine or when I smell that lovely floral scent, I'm taken away on it.  And elderflower has that quality to it. And then you would fuse that with a little bit of meyer lemon or lemon juice, and I also like to use the zest of the lemon because that's where the oils are and it has more of a floral note to it.  And you put all that together in your kombucha and it just has this lovely aroma to it.  Now I typically…

Ben:  You do that after you make the kombucha or do you do that as part of the fermentation process?

Hannah:  So it's all in the flavoring stage is where we add these.  Now, if you're doing experimental brews, you can add anything to the primary and just see how it goes.  Some people will do ginger in their primary fermentation, or they'll do a hibiscus, you get these really cool pink scobies when you do that.  And you know, is that changing the culture?  Is there some kinda microevolution happening?  Absolutely.  But that's happening all the time anyways.  Does it create the same healthy benefits?  I think we don't have enough research to say clearly healthy things are being created out of healthy components, right, but are they exactly the same as what we are expecting?  I don't know for certain.  But it's creative.  This is flexible technology.  We're tip of the iceberg with this stuff because it's just starting to really dig in and enjoy it.

Ben:  I love that recipe.  By the way, I just got back from Kauai, Hawaii at the time this episode is being recorded, and I visited this little kombucha bar called “Potions” down there, and it's kombucha that's been infused with adaptogenic herbs, like eleuthero, and ginseng, and ginko biloba, and they had kombucha down there.  I tried a bunch of their kombuchas and my favorite was a chocolate, black pepper, turmeric kombucha.

Hannah:  Sounds amazing.

Ben:  And the bioperines in black pepper actually activate the anti-inflammatory compounds of turmeric, and you throw a little bit of like a raw cacao extract into the mix.  It was an amazing flavor.

Hannah:  Well, I use a powdered cacao.  It's great.  And we've got a cacao maca in the book, cacao powder, all that…

Ben:  Yeah.

Hannah:  So, you're hitting the nail on the head in terms of kombucha.  You can put all of these great healthy adaptogenic, all kinds of herbs and stuff in there, and yield amazing flavors.  There's some really, if you look, at the dosha ones, I found some recipes that help support certain doshas, and I put all these herbs together, and you would think like, “Oh my gosh, I'm putting all these small amounts of like 10 different herbs in here.”  The flavors are so complex.  They're so multi-dimensional, and I like throwing a bunch of different things in there.  

Most of these recipes just have a couple ingredients, keep it simple, but they're really inspirations.  They're intended to just give you an idea and then you're supposed to expand on that concept based on what intrigues you or what are you trying to work with.  I think that, again tip of the iceberg, there's a huge medicinal benefit to some of the kombuchas we can make if we understand herbology.  Now herbs, of course, have their own language and their own knowledge systems required, so you definitely wanna be making sure you're not over consuming or consuming the wrong type of herbs.  But if you have that knowledge, it can definitely be paired to a huge benefit.

Ben:  Now you also, in the book, you talk about ways that you can use kombucha that go beyond just drinking it.  I've never actually thought of this, but can you give a couple of those uses, a couple your favorite uses for kombucha that involve more than just drinking it.

Hannah:  Absolutely. You know, my favorite is just to lay the SCOBY on my face. It feels amazing.

Ben:  That's gross.

Hannah:  (laughs) It doesn't suck out your brains.  I promise.  No.  It feels so tremendous and what it does is it pulls circulation to the surface of your skin.  We are regenerative beings, that everything in nature is regenerative. The scarcity model is just a line of BS, truthfully.  But we are regeneration, and so what it does is it pulls that circulation of the surface of the skin, that pH sluffs, it breaks old skin so that you can remove that old skin easily, and then with that new circulation, that new blood that's coming to the surface, it helps to regenerate, and it will fill in fine lines and wrinkles.  And in fact, in Japan they sell cellulose masks that you can buy just in an envelope to put on your face and it's the same type of bacteria that we're getting from our kombucha scobies.

It's also really great to use as a bandage.  Many people have reported that when they burn themselves or they cut themselves, and they put a little piece of SCOBY on it, first of the way, it helps to minimize the sting of the burn, it will heal more quickly, and there are applications being created to create living bandages out of this.  Because when you have a cloth bandage, it doesn't breathe.  And so you have to change it frequently.  But oxygen is really helpful when it creates almost like a scab, right.  That's what a scab does is it creates a breathable surface that allows oxygen to get in, but prevents anything that might contaminate from getting in.  And so, using these as bandages is a way to speed healing and also have a breathable component to it.

Ben:  Gotcha.  So you can leave a scoby on your face.  What's one other way we can use kombucha in like a non-drinking way?

Hannah:  So, here's the thing: kombucha, there’s all aspects of it can be used.  So, even if your batch gets really sour and old, or you have to leave and go out of town, you don't have to throw that away.  Because now that kombucha vinegar can be used in your salad dressings, your marinades, it can also be used as a cleaning fluid.  It can be used as a foot detox.  So you put a little kombucha in your foot bath, it pulls the toxins from the body and you feel great.  Someone told me they did that with their child who had ADHD and it just calmed them down.  My husband has been no-poo, meaning shampoo, for many years.  He uses…

Ben:  I was gonna say…

Hannah:  No.  Not that kind.  But he uses kombucha vinegar as his hair tonic.  We age it for a long time, we put in it herbs in it, rosemary, chamomile, things like that. And then instead of shampoo, it's much gentler, right.  Some people use the baking soda, apple cider vinegar, there's a lot of like acid base going on there and your hair can feel really stiff and straw-like, vinegar has a higher acetic acid percentage than kombucha does.  So it's much milder, it's more gentle, it relaxes those oil bonds, but doesn't totally strip the hair.  So it leaves it really soft and manageable.  And you can even just spritz it into your hair and comb it through, and it's gonna give you a lot more softness and manageability.

Ben:  Awesome.  Yeah.  I mean, you've got uses in here for everything from like flea and tick repellent, to freaking like SCOBY earrings.  It's crazy, like stuff I never would have thought of.  Now I do have one other extremely important question for you, because all of our listeners like to have a good time every now and again.  You've got kombucha cocktails in here, and I'm curious, kinda like your favorite, your elderflower kombucha recipe, which I am gonna go give my wife after we record, by the way.  So, we'll take a trip down to the old elderberry tree.  The alcoholic uses for kombucha and your favorite kombucha cocktail.  Can you one-up my kombucha vodka lemon juice cocktail? Because I'd love a change up if you have an idea.

Hannah:  Pork-tini.

Ben:  Did you say pork-tini?

Hannah:  I did indeed.

Ben:  Fill me in.

Hannah:  So we've done a bacon-infused kombucha that you then mix with gin or vodka, and you might be thinking, “Okay, that sounds really weird because now I'm drinking bacon,” but when we remember that kombucha's tea vinegar, and vinegar is used as a marinade, and it can have a nice, savory component to it, and there's even, you know what, bacon-infused vodka's out there.  Well, now you can make a bacon-infused kombucha, and it just tastes fantastic.  It's really, it's one of those surprising things that when you hear it, you might go, “Huh,” but when you drink it, you're like, “Mmmm.”

Ben:  How do you make it?  Do you just make it like a bacon-infused kombucha, I know that recipe's in your book, but once have your bacon-infused kombucha, what comes next?

Hannah:  So then you mix it with, I prefer gin myself.  That's just me.  So I'll mix it with gin, and that's really it. Just the gin and bacon kombucha together, and then I use like a rosemary sprig to stir it 'cause I like that little herbal component to it.  And, yeah. You can even skewer a couple olives on there, or even a whole bacon slice if you wanna get fancy with it.

Ben:  Okay.  This is going to appear at some point the next couple weeks on my Facebook or my Instagram page.  You guys are gonna see me drinking my very first pork-tini.  I'll get my wife on the bacon kombucha bandwagon.

Hannah:  Yes!

Ben:  We'll brew some up.  We'll make it happen.  I will report on the results in the future podcast.  If I die of trichinosis, I'm gonna to blame you by the way.

Hannah:  (laughs) I don't think you will.

Ben:  Alright.  Well, obviously we've only scratched the surface of this book.  It really is, I would be flabbergasted if there were a bigger, more comprehensive book on kombucha that has ever existed on the face of the planet.  And I know that you do everything from sending out kombucha starter cultures, to talking to people on your website about how to get started with making their own kombucha.  It's fun.  As you learned in this podcast episode, it's healthy, and it's even a good way to introduce a new healthy alcoholic and meat-based beverages into your diet.  

So what I'm gonna do is I will link to the book and everything else, including the original podcast that we did with Hannah, and even the article on whether or not Lindsey Lohan really got drunk on kombucha if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/kombucha2, that's bengreenfieldfitness.com/kombucha2.  

And, Hannah, I wanna thank you for coming on the show today and giving us this awesome amount of information on a beverage that I'm frankly, one more sip here, that's the ginger stuff, baby, addicted to.  Thanks for coming on, Hannah.

Hannah:  Thanks, Ben.  Really appreciate it.

Ben: Alright, folks. So, this is Ben Greenfield and Hannah Crum from bengreenfieldfitness.com/kombucha2 signing out.  Have a healthy week.

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.



Did Lindsey Lohan really get drunk on kombucha?

How much caffeine and sugar is in kombucha?

Can you eat that slimy scoby thing that floats to the top?

How can you make kombucha more “bubbly” if you’re making it yourself?

Can kombucha be used for things other than just drinking?

Is it safe to mix kombucha with cocktails or (as I do) to top it off with a bit of vodka now and then?

We’re going to tackle all these topics and much more in today’s interview with Hannah Crum, author of the brand new title “The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea“.

Hannah joined me last year for the podcast episode “Kombucha: Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask.“, but since then, she’s written the quintessential guide to all things kombucha, and what I would consider to be the #1 resource for anybody who wants to know everything there is to know about kombucha.

With more than 400 recipes, including 268 unique flavor combinations, you can get exactly the taste you want — for a fraction of the store-bought price. This complete guide shows you how to do it from start to finish, with illustrated step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting tips. The book also includes information on the many health benefits of kombucha, fascinating details of the drink’s history, and recipes for delicious foods and drinks you can make with kombucha (including some irresistible cocktails!).

Hannah Crum is known as The Kombucha Mamma, and is founder of Kombucha Kamp, the most visited website in the world for Kombucha information, recipes and advice. Hannah is also an industry journalist & Master Brewer, directly mentoring thousands of new and experienced Kombucha brewers and providing consultation services for Kombucha start-ups since 2007.

Hannah is also a leader and featured speaker in the Southern California Real Food movement, using the “Kombucha Lifestyle” as an introduction to other fermented foods, gut health, the human microbiome, “bacteriosapiens” and more. She ships freshly grown, full-size Kombucha starter cultures to more than 10,000 people worldwide and offers kits and Continuous Brew Packages, the ultimate in convenient homebrewed Kombucha, via her webstore.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-A quick review of what kombucha actually is…


-How kombucha affects your liver (and why you should have trace amounts of alcohol in your kombucha)…

-Why nearly all our ancestors drank some form of kombucha…


-How much caffeine is in kombucha, and which chemicals in kombucha balance out any caffeine…


-The true facts about kombucha and sugar…


-What kind of water to use if you make your own kombucha…


-Whether you can or should eat the “scoby” part of kombucha (and one suprising use for the scoby)…


-How to get more bubbles and carbonation in your kombucha…


-How you can you know if you have mold or could be making “bad” kombucha…

-Hannah’s #1, most recommended kombucha recipe (that you’re guaranteed to have never heard of!)…


-The surprising, some non-drinking ways you can use kombucha…


-How to make an amazing “pork-tini” with your kombucha…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Get Your Free Kombucha DIY Guide & E-book Here

Link to Hannah’s kombucha book tour & dates

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