Kombucha for Fertility and Pregnancy
Several weeks ago, my friend handed me a large tupperware container filled halfway with a strongly vinager-scented liquid and a floating jellyfish-like culture. It was my first kombucha mother or SCOBY, an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. Sounds tasty, right?
This particular SCOBY was one that I had tasted the product of before. During a holiday party, my friend handed a glass of the freshly harvested kombucha to me. I took a whiff of it, and, trying to keep a neutral face, said that I would happily share it with my boyfriend. He took a whiff of it, and poured it into the large mug of hot tea he was holding, hoping to make it palatable. Unfortunately, it mostly just increased the quantity that we had to drink and compliment.
Needless to say, I wasn't feeling too ambitious about what delicious beverages I could wheedle out of this SCOBY. Especially since it was my first time trying to brew kombucha.
Now, let me just say, I am a HUGE fan of kombucha. I would drink it every day if it wasn't so prohibitively expensive to get the delicious products from Buddha's Brew, Synergy, and Kosmic Kombucha that I love so much. However, my history with homebrew kombucha has always ranged somewhere between acidic and bellyache-inducing. But, with a garden full of herbs and a rather expensive collective habit, our household decided that the time was ripe to start experimenting with our own homebrew kombucha.
Despite low expectations, I was absolutely wowed by our first batch! We brewed black tea with sugar to add to the SCOBY and starter tea, and let it sit in a dark cupboard for a week. At harvest time, we poured out half of the liquid into glass yogurt jars to experiment with flavoring. The first batch (and the only one we've tasted so far) was flavored with mango, basil, honey, and lime. The second batch that we brewed was just flavored a few days ago. This time we really went wild in the garden, and grabbed all sorts of herbs to test out. The flavor combinations we came up with were: lavender, mango, and lemongrass; grapefruit, lemon balm, and mint; and raspberry, mint and honey. The basic recipe that we followed not including the flavoring variations can be found on www.thekitchn.com.
Now, when you hear homebrew, you might automatically be thinking that this is something to avoid, especially if you are, or are aiming to become, pregnant. There was a rather publicized event several years ago in which kombucha disappeared off of grocery store shelves entirely as people panicked about the unlabeled, but negligible, amounts of alcohol present in kombucha (0.5-3%). Kombucha companies changed methodology and ingredients in order to avoid having to make kombucha an adult beverage, and within a couple of months, these revised recipes trickled back onto shelves.
While this was necessary in a commercial setting though, the trace amount of alcohol in kombucha is nothing to worry about, and the benefits of kombucha far outweigh this. The effect of kombucha according to Chinese medicine is as a cleanser of the liver; it helps to regulate and make more blood. Our LAC's often prescribe apple cider vinegar mixed with cranberry juice to pregnant women to help the liver metabolize hormones, and kombucha has much the same effect. The probiotics present in kombucha additionally help to regulate the digestive system, increase the absorption of nutrients, and increase energy. The one caution our LAC's advise is that if you have never regularly drunk kombucha before, pregnancy may not be the best time to start since you don't know how it will affect you, and there can in rare cases be intolerances to it. Talk to your LAC if you have any questions, but otherwise, drink up, enjoy the health benefits, and enjoy experimenting with all of the different flavors you can think up!
If you're interested in trying it out, SCOBY cultures can be purchased at farmer's markets, or online. They also reproduce naturally over time, so I might end up with more baby SCOBYs than I can take care of. Just saying.