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KOMBUCHA TEA FERMENTATION

 

SADIA SAEED

GC WOMEN UNIVERSITY MADINA TOWN FAISALABAD

Kombucha is the name of the beverage obtained from the fermentation of tea, mainly black tea (there are also other varieties that can be used as a base for its preparation, such as green and oolong tea, also known as blue tea); with added sugar as a substrate for fermentation.

Although this beverage has originally been prepared using tea, it is possible to find variations made with infusions like mint, lemon balm or jasmine. The taste of the beverage is slightly acidic and slightly carbonated, which provides greater acceptance among consumers. Some metabolic products of Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) like acetic acid and other organic acids, posses antibacterial activity and prevents contamination of the drink by pathogenic bacteria.

Kombucha has been around for nearly 2,000 years. It was first brewed in China and then spread to Japan and Russia. It became popular in Europe in the early 20th century. Sales in the United States are on the rise because of its reputation as a health and energy drink.

The basic ingredients in kombucha are yeast, sugar, and black tea. The mix is set aside for a week or more. During that time, bacteria and acids form in the drink, as well as a small amount of alcohol. This process is known as fermentation.

These bacteria and acids form a film on top of the liquid called a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). You can use a SCOBY to ferment morekombucha. Kombuchabacteria  includes  lactic-acid  bacteria, which can work as a probiotic. Kombucha also contains a healthy dose of B vitamins.

Chemical assays of kombucha beverage have indicated the presence of a variety of compounds, including organic acids, mainly acetic, gluconic, and glucuronic acid (GlcUA), although citric, L-lactic, malic, tartaric, malonic, oxalic, succinic, pyruvic, and usnic acids may also be found; sugars (sucrose, glucose, and fructose), water soluble vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12, C), amino acids, biogenic amines, purines, pigments, lipids, proteins, hydrolytic enzymes, ethanol, acetic acid bacteria and lactic acid bacteria, carbon dioxide, polyphenols, minerals (manganese, iron, nickel, copper, zinc, plumb, cobalt, chromium, and cadmium), anions (fluoride, chloride, bromide, iodide, nitrate, phosphate, and sulphate), D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (DSL), and metabolic products of yeasts and bacteria

Kombuchafermentation period is typically known to require a minimum of 3 days to a maximum of 60 days, depending on cultural practices. The fermentation of kombucha is carried out at room temperature, optimizing fermentation time. Sucrose is used as the main carbon source in a concentration of 5–20%, providing the media and nutrients necessary for microorganism development. A SCOBY or the resulting liquid at a 10% concentration from a previous fermentation may be used as starter culture for fermentation.

The variables of the fermentation process, such as time, temperature and sucrose concentration, will determine the final concentration of organic substances such as acids and pH. Organic acids produced during this fermentation process diminished the tea’s pH value, which leads to a lack of oxygen induced by the acidity. Due to this, the number of possible pathogenic microbial cells, if any, diminishes, resulting in a safe beverage for consumption, despite having a microbial origin.

The osmophilic yeast and bacteria that are inoculated in the beverage for fermentation are the ones responsible for the growth of what is known as tea fungus, which has the scientific name of Medusomycesgisevii. Using sucrose as a carbon source, the acetic acid bacteria of the tea produce a network of cellulose as a secondary metabolite of fermentation, mainly the bacteria Acetobacterxylinum. The symbiotic mass of bacteria and yeast adheres to the biofilm, forming a thick jelly-like membrane also called zooglea biofilm. The biofilm of microorganisms remains floating on the surface of the tea with an appearance very similar to a mushroom cap.

Kombucha tea has some benefits as follows:

It helps your digestion, rids your body of toxins, and boosts your energy. It’s also said to boost your immune system, help you lose weight, ward off high blood pressure and heart disease, and prevent cancer.

Claims about kombucha’s power to aid digestion come from the fact that fermentation makes probiotics. Probiotics help with diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and they may even strengthen your immune system.

When kombucha is made from green tea, you get its benefits, too. This includes bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your cells from damage.

Green tea may also help you burn fat and protect you from heart disease.

Studies in animals show that the drink lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels, among other things. But research hasn’t shown that it has the same effects in people.

Kombucha also has some health risks:

Many of the bacteria are considered probiotics, but if it’s not prepared properly, it can grow harmful bacteria or mold.

Ailments included liver problems, lactic acidosis (a buildup of lactic acid in the body), allergic reactions, and nausea.

Toxicity caused by kombucha has been suspected in several cases, reporting dizziness and nausea after consumption.

Lead poisoning and gastrointestinal toxicity was found on two individuals after drinking the fermented beverage during a period of six months.

Acute kidney failure with lactic acidosis and hyperthermia after ingesting the beverage, as well as the presence of Bacillus anthrax, Penicillium and Aspergillus present in kombucha prepared under unhygienic conditions

As regards to pregnant women, it is contraindicated as a security parameter due to the possible heparin content  in the tea, as it inhibits blood clotting system’s proteins and thins it, being harmful during the third trimester of pregnancy.

High acidity and microbial contamination of kombucha was reported as a warning for possible illness and mycotoxigenic substances have health repercussions including toxic and carcinogenic effects

Kombucha beverage is a source of bioactive components, such as polyphenols and glucuronic acid. The beneficial outcomes of kombucha consumption are attributed to the synergistic effect between these components, making it a drink with potential beneficial health properties (when elaborated under adequate sterile conditions). It is apparent that its consumption can protect against the development of CVDs, mainly due to its polyphenol content that inhibits the oxidation of LDL, regulates cholesterol metabolism, and prevents high blood pressure by promoting smooth muscle relaxation. GlcUA, one of its main components, plays a role in xenobiotic liver detoxification and endobiotic elimination, thus potentially enhancing liver functions. It must be emphasized that concentration of the drink’s active components will vary depending on the scoby and elaboration methods. Health effects on humans under controlled research are merited, because some contraindications have been reported..

But the FDA says kombucha is safe when properly prepared. If you’re making it at home, experts recommend using glass, stainless steel, or plastic containers. Keep everything sanitary, including the equipment and your hands.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionthe daily consumption of 4 oz. of kombucha does not present a risk for the consumer’s health.

 

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