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.

BASIC KOMBUCHA TEA RECIPE
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. LocalHarvest.org 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

BREWING INSTRUCTIONS
*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.

HOW TO SERVE
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.

STORAGE
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. 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. Spice of Life: Himalayan Salt

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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):

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Sur La Table’s Himalayan Pink Rock Salt

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Coarsely Ground Himalayan Salt from Saltworks

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Finely Ground Himalayan Salt from Saltworks

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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).

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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. The Pretty Boy’s Guide to Good Looking Skin

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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.