What are the reasons behind all the recommendations to use genuine kombucha mushrooms to make home-made kombucha, vs buying it at the store?
• Like most things in life, a good thing just cannot be packaged or processed. It always ends up taking away some portion of the quality or essence of the food when creating something 'safe' and with a shelf life. Commercial Kombucha found in stores is limited by the bottling process. Companies need to suppress or halt yeast fermentation and culturing in order to prevent continued carbonation or the bottles could explode. This process leaves you with commercial kombucha which, while still good, typically has high acid and/or suppressed culture, and less varieties of bacteria and yeast.
• Many of the commercial kombucha's are pasteurized, negating the many health benefits one can derive from the probiotic content in the drink (the heat during pasteurization kills the probiotics found in the kombucha).
• Kombucha 'teas' sold in tea bags, while nice, do not offer the same qualities that exist in pure raw kombucha liquid (or even commercial kombucha) - including the probiotic content, acid contents and many of the other natural healthful by-products that occur specifically during fermentation.
• A genuine kombucha mushroom is self-sustainable, since it propagates a new baby kombucha mushroom each time (to be used in your next batch). If this was the case with commercial, they would go out of business over-night.
• The cost you will be saving is enormous. Commercial kombucha is pricey. Learning how to make your own beverages at home will save you a bundle in the long run.
• If you were to go through two or three store-bought 16-oz kombucha bottles a week, that would total between approx. $250-$622 a year. On the other hand, the cost of the tea bags and sugar needed to make this same amount at home will cost you far less, coming out to only around $13-$20 a year for the same amount (32-48 oz a week).
• That is a substantial savings of around 94%! You can still easily come out ahead even after investing in some exotic and fun flavorings to add to your kombucha with that kind of savings.
• To break that down, if you want to make 32 oz (4 cups, or a quart) of kombucha a week, you will spend approx. $5 for sugar (10 lb bag) which has enough sugar for 90 uses. That's just shy of 2 years' worth of sugar (or roughly $2.50 a year). For a year's worth of bulk organic green tea, the cost comes out to about 10 cents a bag, (or approximately 2 bags per batch at $10.40 a year). This totals around $13 for 32 oz a week, or about $20 for 48 oz a week. With the average price range of commercial kombucha at $2.40 to $3.99 a bottle you will spend a minimum of $250 a year if you purchase two 16-oz bottles at $2.40 or a maximum of $622 a year when purchasing three 16-oz bottles at $3.99. Of course, if you bought one at the store every day, you'd be spending upwards of $875 to $1,456 a year. Calculations do not include the cost of water as that can vary widely from tap to store-bought, though the total would be very small for the 13 gallons needed a year at 4 quarts a week.
• Homemade Kombucha is one of the easiest ferments to do. You get to choose the type and amount of sugar and tea and its quality is superior to commercial because the cultures are not suppressed and/or pasteurized.
• You know what is going in it - forget about worrying about what they use to preserve or flavor it with - this can be quite the ordeal when on a special diet or if you have allergies.
• You are able to choose your own flavoring or other additional supplements to put in. Typically the easiest and most delicious way is to add your favorite juice to it - such as grape juice, tropical, coconut, cranberry, orange juice, lemonade, etc!
• You are able to tweak it to satisfy your tastes and dietary needs, making it less or more sweet as needed (even after its done - its such a flexible culture to work with). This is great for diabetics or anyone concerned with the sugar content involved. You can have one bottle sweetened with sugar and another plain - each person in your family can create their own custom kombucha.
• You can experiment with non-caffeinated teas, such as Rooibos, which has proven to culture successfully for many people (the commercial brands are made with green, black or white teas, all caffeinated).
• You will have excess kombucha mushrooms to do whatever you want with - share, dry and give to your dogs as a chew toy, toss around for fun or use as a bath or pool toy, clean with it (or the kombucha liquid). The scobys and kombucha are especially known to make excellent additions to garden compost too or to acidify/lower the ph in your soil. Some people have even found medicinal use from taping scoby's to their feet or blending them into mush to treat foot or nail fungus, etc. The kombucha liquid can also sometimes help with dandruff and other skin-balancing issues (eczema, etc).
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