There are a lot of interesting ideas about kombucha floating around in the environment, often erroneous or fear-filled. Some people have heard some strange things about this health-giving beverage and they have simply accepted them as truths.
Most of these rumors, in fact, are not true at all. They are like urban legends that have developed out of ignorance or a story that hasn’t quite given you all of the facts.
If these myths have held you back then let’s bust them so you can start brewing this delicious, tangy homemade tonic.
Myth 1. You can’t use honey as the sweetener. This is a really common misconception, even in some of the more “cultured” circles. The idea is that raw honey has anti-bacterial properties and therefore might interfere with or even kill the scoby if used as the sweetener in the brewing process.
The truth is that honey kills bacteria by suffocation, and should not be problematic when used as a sweetener for brewing kombucha. According to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon, you can use raw honey to make kombucha without any concerns for the health of your scoby. You may run into problems if the raw honey contains additional organic matter that might attract mold.
If you’re still hesitant, just save a scoby to use with sugar as a backup.
Myth 2. You can die from drinking homemade Kombucha. There are occasional stories that surface claiming that someone has heard that someone making homemade kombucha had died from drinking it.
First of all, the story is just extreme. People have drunk kombucha for thousands of years and one person had heard that one person one time might have died from it. It’s simply unlikely, statistically.
Second, when cultured foods are prepared properly there is very little possibility for food-borne illness. This is because the cultures in combination with the acid present create an environment inhospitable for bad bacteria.
This myth is very likely perpetuated by the idea that foods that are pasteurized or come from a factory are somehow safer than those we can create at home. While pasteurization can remove harmful bacteria and make foods last longer on the shelf, good fermentation practices can do the same thing without pasteurization.
3. More scoby = faster brewing time. There really is no hard evidence on this either way, but there are a few problems in thinking that this is the key to a faster brewing time.
A faster brewing time isn’t necessarily better. Allowing the kombucha culture to slowly eat up the sugar and produce beneficial bacteria and acids slowly will help create a better-rounded brew, both for flavor and health.
Additionally, the more scoby you have in your brew, the less room you will have for actual tea. This will result in less kombucha tea in the end. You’re also providing more culture without increasing the amount of food (sugar) in the solution, so your scoby may run out of food faster.
Finally, if you are looking to speed up the brewing time of your kombucha, your best bet is to get a wider fermentation vessel. By increasing the surface area of the ferment you are feeding the yeasts in the kombucha culture with the oxygen it needs to reproduce well.
Kombucha is a delicious drink, loaded with probiotics and other healthy vitamins. It’s fun to make, and hard to mess up. If you think you might like to make kombucha at home, try some store-bought and see what you think. Then get a scoby from a friend, or buy one from us, and give it a try!