BESTIAL BEAUTY. Kombucha Culture: How To Brew Your Own Kombucha Tea

A diet inclusive of probiotics (live microorganisms beneficial to the host) is a great way to maintain overall good health, as they are said to improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, and help detoxify the kidneys and liver. One of the most common probiotic foods is live culture yoghurt, of which I love the flavor, but unfortunately for me, causes bloating and stomach cramps. So in order to get my daily dose of good bacteria, I drink Kombucha tea, which is brewed from the Kombucha culture, and tastes like slightly carbonated iced tea infused with a splash of vinegar.

Kombucha tea has been a popular probiotic drink on the market for over twenty years now, and brands like Synergy Kombucha are sold at Whole Foods for $3.99 per 16 oz. bottle. However, I prefer to brew my own Kombucha tea at home, and use the following basic recipe, a combination of ingredients and techniques I’ve adjusted to my liking over the past few years.

There are a few options in terms of obtaining a Kombucha culture. You don’t necessarily have to buy a culture to start with, although the fermentation process is faster when your tea is brewed from a full sized culture, and oftentimes these are available for FREE on Craigslist. You can purchase full sized cultures for about $20 online. has free shipping and sells them for $16.95. You can also grow your own culture by adding a 16 oz. bottle of mass produced unpasteurized and unflavored Kombucha tea to your own tea at Step 3. Youtube has a great video with additional information on this method.

1 Kombucha Culture

6-7 Tea Bags of Black Tea

20 Cups Water

1 Large Glass Jar (1½-2 Gallon Capacity)

¾ Cup Granulated Sugar

½ Cup Brown Sugar

3-6 Unbleached Coffee filters

Wooden Spoon

Rubber Band

Paper Towels or Cheesecloth

Sealable Glass Bottles for Storage

*Coffee Maker

*There is some debate whether or not using metal cookware/containers/utensils in the brewing process of the tea will compromise the integrity of the Kombucha culture. I find it is just far more efficient to use a standard coffee maker to brew the tea, thus eliminating the concern. If you don’t have a coffee maker, boil the water in a glass or ceramic pot.

1. Use 5-7 tea bags in the brewing chamber (where the coffee filter normally goes), and pour through 10-12 cups of water twice to brew 2 pots of tea.

2. Pour the tea into the large glass jar and add the sugar. Stir with the wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.

3. Once the tea has cooled, place the Kombucha culture in/on top of the tea (normal-may sink or float). Cover with a couple layers of the paper towel and secure it with a rubber band.

4. Leave the tea in a undisturbed area for 2-3 weeks to ferment.

5. After the fermentation period, strain the tea using unbleached coffee filters into sealable glass bottles.

To receive its optimal benefits, Kombucha is best served cold, 4 oz. every morning on an empty stomach. I feel an instant energy boost when I drink it, and notice an overall improvement in my complexion as well.

The bottled and filtered Kombucha tea can be stored in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks.

Store the Kombucha cultures in glass jars with a bit of tea, which will keep it growing, or refrigerate them on a glass plate covered with a layer of wax paper underneath plastic wrap or a plastic bag.


BESTIAL BEAUTY. Yves Saint Laurent Spring 2010

Chic. Elegant. Decadent. Infused with sophisticated splashes of color, Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 2010 makeup collection is inspired by the contrasting moods of Paris, and includes an array of soft colors classically applied à la Catherine Deneuve.

Sultry Sheen at YSL Beauty Spring 2010

So adorably cool AND functional, the Y-Mail Complexion Palettes (inspired by the YSL Y-Mail handbag collection) are an absolute MUST HAVE.

YSL Limted Edition Y-Mail Complexion Palettes in #1 Face Highlighter and #2 Blush Highlighter

YSL Limited Edition Golden Gloss in #19 Golden Petal and #20 Golden Macadamia

YSL Ombre 5 Lumières 5 Colour Harmony For Eyes in #9 Parisian Sky

YSL Limited Edition La Laque in #41 Beige Chiffon and #143 Mauve Silk

BESTIAL BEAUTY. Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

As we head into winter, the following, yet commonly overlooked, natural remedies and precautions will help alleviate your cold and flu symptoms.

1. HONEY. Honey is a natural cough suppressant. Mix with hot water and lemon or eat a teaspoonful to soothe an aching cough.

2. HOT SOUP. Any hot brothy-type soup will relieve congested sinuses, and is even more effective when cooked with small slices of fresh ginger.

3. EAT PICKLES. Pickles can essentially cure a sore throat as they are cured in a brine of vinegar and salt water; ingredients that possess anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

4. SUPPLEMENT. Give your immune system a boost by taking the following supplements:

– VITAMIN C. Up your daily dosage of C to 1000 mg.

ECHINACEA. Despite what skeptics say, I believe you can stop a cold in its tracks if you take 250 mg – 500 mg of echinacea daily at the onset of a cold.

ZINC. At the first sign of a cold, take zinc lozenges or a zinc supplement (50 mg).

5. PROTECT. Protect yourself from germs and bacteria by washing hands frequently and using hand sanitizer. Also, avoid touching surfaces in public places (i.e. hand rails, door knobs/handles etc.) and do not touch your face.

6. SLEEP. Getting plenty of rest (at least 8 hours a night) will help maintain the strength of your immune system.

BESTIAL BEAUTY. Sumbody to Love


Sumbody, based out of Sebastopol, CA, is one of my favorite spas and manufacturers of eco-friendly beauty products. Founder and CEO, Deborah Burnes, started the company in 2001 in response to the need for natural and ethically made skin care products.

Burnes recently wrote, Look Great, Live Green, a highly informative and tremendously helpful book and resource for anyone trying to live a greener lifestyle. It includes a comprehensive guide on product labeling,  natural skin care alternatives, and at home beauty recipes.

The following are just a few of my Sumbody faves, which also make really fantastic gifts:

Sumbody’s Study Buddy Aromatherapy Kit $19.95

Sumbody’s Study Aromatherapy Kit contains four mini-Zappers in: Distraction, Fatigue, Anxiety, and Stress. These aromatherapy oil blends are absolutely incredible in terms of “zapping” what they’re named after. Instructions say to apply on temples, neck, and chest, and I find swiping them on the ears and wrists to be highly effective as well. Anxiety (motherwort, chamomile, lavender extracts) and Distraction (sage, rosemary, peppermint extracts) are particularly beneficial to me on an almost daily basis. The full size Zappers are $14.95 and are available in many other helpful formulas.

Sumbody’s Zen Natural Soap $5.95

My entire well being feels…well, well in its being whenever I use Sumbody’s Zen Natural Soap. The citrus and eucalyptus blend of essential oils creates a very clean, peaceful, and uplifting experience while green tea and wakame seaweed reduce the signs of aging.

Sumbody’s Milky Rich Bonbons $3.95

Sumbody’s Milky Rich Bonbons are formulated with sea salt, cocoa butter, and goats milk, which keep skin exfoliated, glowing, and moisturized during the cold, wintry months. Delicately scented with vanilla and citrus essential oils, each bonbon lasts for 2-3 uses, and is the ideal stocking stuffer. Also available in a variety of scents.


Sumbody’s Mustard Detox Bath Fizzer $5.95

Slipping one of Sumbody’s Mustard Dextox Bath Fizzers into the tub is one of the greatest ways to fight off the winter blues and/or an illness as mustard warms and relaxes, detoxifies, and stimulates circulation. All you need is a good book and a couple hours.


Use online code: scrub
For online customers, simply type in the code after your last name when placing your order to redeem the special. For example: Smith – scrub
*Free scrub will be a random pick from assorted scents

CA BOOK SIGNINGS OF Look Great, Live Green
12 Nov 2009 (7pm) Barnes & Noble Jack London Square
98 Broadway, Oakland CA 94607

20 Nov 2009 (7pm) Copperfield’s Books
138 N Main St # 1, Sebastopol CA 95472

04 Dec 2009 (7pm) Sumbody Napa
3800 Bel Aire Plz Napa, CA 94558

10 Dec 2009 (7pm) Sumbody Alameda
1350 Park St Alameda, CA 94501

11 Dec 2009 (7pm) Sumbody Sebastopol
118 N Main St Sebastopol, CA 95472

BESTIAL BEAUTY. Spice of Life: Himalayan Salt


As someone consciously trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I’ve recently switched my table and cooking salt from iodized/sea salt/kosher salt to Himalayan salt. Himalayan salt is a type of pinkish rock salt mined in Pakistan that contains 84 minerals and trace elements naturally occurring in the body, which help restore the body’s alkaline and electrolyte balance, important factors when considering the long term effects of dehydration and excessive acidity (premature aging and the increase potential for disease due to overcompensation of the organs).

Himalayan salt is available at most health food stores and comes in a variety of forms as illustrated below (rock, coarse, fine, and plated):


Sur La Table’s Himalayan Pink Rock Salt


Coarsely Ground Himalayan Salt from Saltworks


Finely Ground Himalayan Salt from Saltworks


Himalayan Salt Plate from Sur La Table

A highly aesthetic way to prepare and serve food, salt plates can be cooked on (with a cooking agent like olive oil or butter) in the oven, stove top, and on the grill. The plates mildly salt the food placed on top of them, thus having a curing effect. They are anti-microbial and easy to clean without detergent, (only need to be scoured and rinsed).

They can also be used chilled or frozen to serve cold cheeses, Carpaccio, ice cream, and sorbets.

Other uses for Himalayan salt include:

As a mouthwash/gargle for gum and throat health.

As a daily brine to detoxify the body and restore its pH Balance.

As bath salts to help rheumatism pain.

As a face and body mask to treat acne and remove impurities from the skin.

To remedy acid reflux, as recommended by Dr. Oz.

Like any salt, use with care as it is still sodium chloride and can cause hypertension (high blood pressure) when ingested in excess.

BESTIAL BEAUTY. Chanel: Collection Noirs Obscurs


The Chanel Noirs Obscurs Collection takes its inspiration from the femme fatales of film noir, and is one of my favorite Chanel cosmetics collections to date.


The selection of lipsticks, eye shadows, and nail polishes in varying shades of blackened jewel tones undoubtedly creates a very striking and of course, provocative look. With names like Maniac, Vendetta, and Madness, dramatic manifestations are likely to occur.


Although many of the department stores are currently sold out of the limited edition Chanel Noirs Obscurs Collection, Barneys in San Francisco (415.268.3500) is receiving its shipment soon. They will have limited stock available, and may be able to fill orders over the phone.


Chanel Noirs Obscurs Collection Winter 2009

BESTIAL BEAUTY. The Pretty Boy’s Guide to Good Looking Skin


I had been contemplating what I would write about for my first BESTIAL BEAUTY post when I randomly received the following e-mail from a friend:

STATS: Age: 32     Sex: Male     Location: San Francisco

Q: I feel like I’m starting to look old. The skin on my cheeks is looking saggy and I look so wrinkly when I smile, what can I do?

A: Most people, and particularly men, don’t want to have an intrusive, expensive, or high maintenance skincare routine.

Below are some EASY and basic tips to keep skin healthy:

1. PROTECT. Wear a hat or clothing that creates a barrier between the skin and the sun and use at least an SPF 25 on your face, ears, neck (and anywhere else that gets a fair amount of sun exposure), EVERY, SINGLE DAY. This will not only protect the skin from harmful cancer causing UV rays, but will help prevent wrinkles, freckles, and moles as well.

2. MOISTURIZE. You don’t necessarily need to buy expensive products for basic skin hydration. Brands like Neutrogena, Clinique and Kiehl’s are effective, affordable, and have asexual looking packaging in case that’s a concern.

3. GET ENOUGH SLEEP. Most people need about eight hours of sleep to feel mentally and physically well. Your skin follows the same schedule, so make sure you get an adequate amount of rest of every day.

4. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day helps keep skin hydrated and flushes toxins from the body.

5. GREASE IS NOT THE WORD. Avoid deep fried foods like potato chips, french fries, and doughnuts. These go straight to the pores.

6. REDUCE YOUR ALCOHOL, SODIUM, AND SUGAR INTAKE. Booze, sugar, and salt cause swelling in your entire body, including your face. If you limit your intake of these, then your skin won’t need to “swell up” in order to accommodate the chemical reaction that occurs when you ingest these substances.

7. DO NOT SMOKE. The toxins in cigarette smoke deplete skin of its nutrients and also cause it to dry out, wrinkle, lose elasticity, and look sallow.

8. SUPPLEMENT. Omega 3 fish oil keeps skin looking radiant from the inside out and helps maintain healthy HDL cholesterol levels, and aids the body is weight loss as well. Take 1000mg – 2000mg of UNSCENTED Omega 3 fish oil per day with food.

9. TREAT. Hydrocortisone creams like Preparation H contain ingredients that temporarily reduce swelling and inflammation of the skin. Use SPARINGLY for puffy eyes as they do contain steroids.

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