What tea should you use to make your Kombucha?


Tea is the elixir of life.
Lao Tzu

Do you feel you drink too much coffee? Do you need help getting over your coffee fix? If you’re looking for an alternative drink, try drinking Kombucha instead. Kombucha is a lightly fermented tea consumed chilled and not with milk! Kombucha can give you the energy boost of coffee without the side effects.

The ingredients in Kombucha are simple, and tea is one of the main ones. I promote using organic tea because of the health benefits, for making your kombucha but even so, consume your kombucha in moderation. Teas are not only differentiated by their flavour but also by how they are processed. There are so many varieties that most people will find one that suits their palate. Each tea has different healing benefits, and you can incorporate these as additional benefits into your home made Kombucha.

Organic Black Tea

This is the most common type of tea used for brewing Kombucha. It has more caffeine and is the most nutritious for the SCOBY, helping to control pH levels. Traditional black teas include Ceylon, English Breakfast and Darjeeling. Black tea is made from the leaves of a bush called Camelia Sinensis.

Black tea is widely recognised as a mental stimulant, but it has other potential health benefits because it contains caffeine and is an antioxidant. It also contains Vitamin C and carotenes. As a potent antioxidant, it encourages a strong immune system, disables free radicals, improves cardiovascular health and fights harmful inflammation. Avoiding inflammation helps provide protection against chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Black tea’s antioxidants are also known for contributing to weight management as they boost metabolism and help burn body fat more effectively which enhances weight loss. By regulating blood sugar levels you will feel more balanced and satisfied, therefore craving fewer sweets! Black tea can help to manage diabetes as it contains powerful polysaccharides, which are carbohydrates that work to slow blood sugar absorption.

Red Rooibos Tea

This tea is from the Linearis bush found in South Africa and is classified as a herb rather than a true tea.

The health benefits of red rooibos include a cure for nagging headaches, insomnia, asthma, eczema, bone weakness, hypertension, allergies and premature aging. The tea is free from caffeine and low in tannins so that you can enjoy the refreshing drink all day long with no side effects. Rooibos leaves contain polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimutagenic qualities.

Red rooibos has no oxalic acid so it can be consumed by people with kidney stones or kidney disease. It is rich in many minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, copper, fluoride, manganese, zinc, magnesium and alpha hydroxyl acid. It also contains antioxidants like aspalathin and nothofagin and the potent and versatile phenolic compounds.

As this tea is caffeine free, it can improve your mood, heart health, reduce stress, nervous tension and hypertensive conditions. Rooibos tea is a bronchodilator which reduces hypertension (high blood pressure) and respiratory muscle fatigue. Quercetin, another powerful antioxidant found in Rooibos promotes an increase in HDL cholesterol which is your good cholesterol and inhibits the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from binding to the walls of arteries and other blood vessels. This protects against various heart conditions, including atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

As red rooibos tea is rich in calcium, manganese and fluoride minerals, it can assist in maintaining good bone structure and strong teeth. By increasing the bio-availability of minerals in your system, you reduce your chance of developing conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis and chronic joint pain.

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is another great choice for Kombucha and comes from a holly-related tree grown predominately in South America (Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil). In recent years the popularity of Yerba Mate has been spreading around the world. The leaves of the tree possess numerous health benefits. It is a tea that you can drink all day long with no ill physical effects while promoting mental clarity and balanced energy. It rarely interferes with sleep and doesn’t cause the caffeine jitters. Many athletes use it to enhance their physical performance.

It is also useful for people suffering from mental or physical fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome. It makes you more motivated and productive by stimulating the production of the neurotransmitter, dopamine.

Its high in compounds which boost the immune system and have natural anti-inflammatory properties, so it has been used to treat constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion. It is also helpful in modulating the overactive immune response seen with seasonal allergies. Yerba Mate has been used for preventing and treating bladder and kidney stones.

It is said that drinking Yerba Mate increases bone density, even in people who don’t exercise. This was a surprising discovery as caffeine is associated with bone mineral loss and exercise is deemed critical for building strong bones.

The theobromine in Yerba Mate relaxes blood vessels allowing for better blood flow, which is useful for treating heart-related conditions including heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and low blood pressure.

Puerh Tea

Puerh is a member of the Camellia sinensis family like the black tea discussed earlier. It’s produced in the mountains of Yunnan in China and the locals closely guard the secret of how the tea is produced. It undergoes a special fermentation process which imbues specific healing properties such as lowering cholesterol and aiding weight loss. It is known as a ‘living’ tea because the natural microbes present on the tea leaves at the time of picking are allowed to ferment the leaves.

During fermentation, the natural wet and hot conditions in Asia provide the best environment for improving the enzyme saccharomycetes ability to aid metabolism. The fast metabolism results in the sweet and mellow quality of the tea.

Puerh tea contains caffeine but not as much as other teas. The interest in Puerh tea for lowering cholesterol is due to the small amounts of the chemical lovastatin, naturally found in the fermented tea. Lovastatin is a prescription medication used for lowering cholesterol.

The ‘art of tea’ is a spiritual force for us to share.
Alexandra Stoddard.

What about flavoured teas?

When using tea to ferment your kombucha avoid teas containing essential oils such as Earl Grey, Chai or flavoured teas. These options are hard on the culture known as the SCOBY and can turn the brew rancid during brewing. If you are using some of these non-tannin teas, then you are best to combine it with a black tea for the long-term survival and health of the SCOBY.

There are so many varieties of tea available to change the taste of your Kombucha so why not try some and experiment! Which tea is your favourite? Why?