Most Liberal Product In America – Kombucha

Admittedly, kombucha is still a bit of a mystery to me, the main reason being that I do not drink alcohol.   Once I read that it was a fermented beverage, I just thought, “Nope.”   However, watching some of my coworkers swear by it and seeing all sorts of recipes for SCOBY (the weird culture of bacteria and yeast that looks a bit like an oceanic creature), I decided to at least do a bit of research on it and know what on Earth I am talking about.

Kombucha Tea: Do the Negatives Outweigh the Positives ...

The mystery of kombucha….

For those of you who have lived blissfully unawares, kombucha, dubbed the most liberal product in America as of 2009, is an ancient Chinese tea-based drink (usually green or black tea) that is brewed with a yeast disc, yielding low levels of alcohol.   Now, it is toted as being a huge part of PepsiCo’s portfolio, despite the fact that it had an alcohol regulation scandal only a few years ago.   Health nuts love it, because it states that it contains vitamins, amino acids, and other buzz words healthy people (and the government) associate with health benefits.   This also implies a non-alcoholic base, so kids and adults can enjoy the drink.   It almost developed a cult following, with people expounding upon its properties to do everything from fix what ails ya to even curing AIDS and cancer (helpful note, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center states that kombucha has not been shown to treat cancer nor AIDS in humans).

Kombucha is prepared mostly by placing the SCOBY in sweetened tea and left to ferment at room temperature for 1-3 weeks, then bottled for 1-2 weeks to contain the CO2 that is given off and increase the natural carbonation of the drink.   From there, the drink is stored in the fridge, at which point it is ready to be sold.   The scandal happened because people did not think of the second fermentation cycle that the drink goes through:

“However, the production and distribution of kombucha halted abruptly for two months in 2010 following a Whole Foods inspection  by Maine Department of Agriculture Consumer Protection Inspector Randy Trahan. During a routine bottle audit at the Whole Foods in Portland, Trahan noticed leaking kombucha bottles. Trahan explained, “Some of the Kombucha bottles on the shelf were leaking. Being a public health official, I know that alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation process. I could immediately see that there might be a public safety issue…Kids could get hold of this and get a buzz.””

After Trahan submitted the bottles for testing, they found alcohol levels ranging from a bit over 0.5% to even going as high as over 2.5%, well above the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s regulations.   The drink was pulled from shelves as a result for a bit while the industry gathered itself again to try a second time in the kombucha boom.

The government stepped in and stated that it would regulate any kombucha products that contain 0.5% or more ABV, even after the product was bottled and continued to ferment.   Trade association Kombucha Brewers International was also founded as a way to educate both consumers and retailers about kombucha, as well as promote industry ethics and labeling standards, working with the government to do so.

With new regulations in place, producers went two ways – some decided to comply with the ABV standards through manufacturing changes and de-alcoholizers, while others used their original formulas and labeled their brands as beers instead.   Purists believe the de-alcoholized products stripped away the health benefits of the beverage that made it so popular in the first place.   However, sales continue to climb, estimated to be about $1.8 billion by 2020.

So, while I might try some of the de-alcoholized kombucha, there’s something to be said about its fascinating history, and the current hype surrounding the beverage!

Sit back, enjoy a cuppa, and let me know your thoughts.

Tea Review – Red Rose English Breakfast Tea

Hi all!

So, life has been busy, busy, busy!   First off, GREAT news regarding my recent health issues.   I finally got everything resolved.   Cysts have disappeared, kidney is non-existent but not a bad thing, and my low iron has been resolved.   Even better?   Ever since taking my iron pills, I have had more energy, I feel less depressed, and I have even started going to the gym again, this time with my mommy in tow and soon, my boyfriend will be joining on Saturday!

Very excited about all of that 🙂

I also got word that I will be doing another Tea Love talk!   This one will be in February, details to follow.

Now, as some of you might already know, I received a package from Red Rose Tea again, this time asking to review their Keurig cups.   Though I must admit, I am not the biggest fan of K-cups, I decided to give it a whirl.   Last time, I reviewed the original K-cup.   Now, I moved on to…

English Breakfast From Red Rose Tea!

English Breakfast From Red Rose Tea!

English Breakfast!

So, I brewed it and, as you can see here, it has its signature red flavor to the tea, almost like burnt cinnamon.   Truly, if I could, I would put some of this tea in resin and wear that as a necklace or ring, it looks so pretty.

Unfortunately though, in terms of taste and scent, it doesn’t quite meet standards.   I do not taste any outstanding flavors to it, nor do I smell any.   To smell anything, I have to quite literally stick my nose deep into my cup and even then, I get a slight smell of black tea.   As for taste, it is a good black tea, mind you, but I would not want to use it to wash down a hearty breakfast of eggs and sausage.   It is more mild, better for some light sandwiches.

I know that my aunt likes to dress up her Red Rose Tea with a little bit of orange juice, so I might give that a shot, but this is more of just a pleasant tea, nothing too outstanding about it.

Sorry, Red Rose!   I do like your products, but this one, I would recommend an improvement on.

Next week, I will review the final one, the naturally decaffeinated tea.


An Introduction to Beautiful, Bold, Bitter Black Tea

Black tea is the most fermented tea out of all the teas available.   With a rich, black look that resembles coffee, black tea is perfect for those transitioning from the coffee world into the tea world.   Black tea was originally designed strictly for export from China (where it is known as red tea, due to the red edges of the oxidized leaves), since it was considered to be of a lesser quality of tea.   Thus, due to the export, it is the most popular tea outside of Asia.

Black tea goes through a nine-step process: plucking, sorting, cleaning, withering, rolling, oxidizing, drying, and sorting.   After the tea leaves are picked from the Camellia sinensis plant , they are sorted according to size.   Tea leaves are then cleaned of any dirt, rocks or twigs that might have been accidentally picked up with the leaves.   After all, no one wants to drink tea with bits of dirt in it!

The leaves are only dried slightly, so that their moisture content goes from 70-80% to about 60-65%.   This allows the leaves to be soft enough to roll without tearing the leaves.   Depending on the tea, leaves are either rolled right away or chopped and then rolled.   They are then oxidized, letting the leaves brown with a red tip.   Next, they are cooled and dried, leaving only 3% of the water content in the leaves.   Finally, the product is sorted according to grade.   Note that grade does not communicate quality of tea – it only indicates the size of the tea leaves.

Black Tea Would Be The Best Tea To Transition To If You Are Trying To Rid A Coffee Habit

Black Tea Would Be The Best Tea To Transition To If You Are Trying To Rid A Coffee Habit

Just like most teas, black tea creates a calming, soothing effect.   Something about the warmth of the cup in your hands when it is raining or snowing outside just brings inner peace.   It is also believed that black tea can lower blood pressure.

Black teas also greatly help the heart.   It acts as a gentle stimulant for both the heart and the whole circulatory system.   It also helps prevent build-ups in the arteries and veins that could potentially cause strokes or heart attacks.   This great beverage also helps to prevent the intake of cholesterol in the blood stream.

Black tea is rumored to help with weight loss.   Certain varieties are rumored to help with digestion as well.

Black tea has a rather hot brewing temperature – 190 – 212 degrees.   Depending on the tea, the temperature will need to be adjusted.   A typical brewing time is 3-4 minutes.   If brewed for longer, the tea will tend to have more caffeine and start getting a very bitter taste.   However, a typical cup of black tea has about 20% the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.   The release of the caffeine differs as well.   While a cup of coffee gives one a jolt of caffeine with the stereotypical crash at the end, a cup of black tea does a slow release and allows the drinker to have a gentle stream of caffeine through the day.

If you are a coffee drinker, then black tea should be an easy transition to go to.   Some teas might be a bit more of a pleasant surprise due to the different aftertaste.   However, for those who are just dabbling in tea and do not drink coffee, keep far away!   It is a tasty beverage that will take some time to get used to due to its strong taste and bitterness.

Photo Credit:

Onestop News.   19 July 2011.   Onestop News: black-tea-150×150.jpeg, 16 Nov 2011.   JPEG.

Source Credit:   “China Black Tea.”   Web.   16 Nov 2011. 

The Fragrant Leaf.   “Black Tea Production.”   The Fragrant Leaf, 2011.   Web.   16 Nov 2011.   “Tea Encyclopedia: Black Tea.”   Gottatea Corp.   Gottatea Corp, 2010.   Web.   16 Nov 2011.

Narien Teas.   “Tea: Black Tea.”   Narien Teas.   Narien Teas.   Web.   16 Nov 2011.

Onestop News.   “Comparing Efficacy of Black Tea & Green Tea.”   Onestop News.   Onestop News, 19 July 2011.   Web.   16 Nov 2011.