Monday, January 16, 2012


Kombucha is a type of fermented tea (not extremely fermented, it doesn't count as an alcoholic beverage) that you can buy at some grocery stores such as Whole Foods, and some HEBs etc. It has been around for thousands of years and no one knows exactly were it originated but some guess somewhere in Asia. It is made from a tea sweetened by sugar that is fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast called a kombucha mushroom or SCOBY.  It is pretty expensive to buy it bottle by bottle at the store, and making it yourself saves you lots if you drink it regularly but it does take patients and you have to be careful.

Health Benefits:

  • boosts immune system
  • digestive aid
  • help blood circulation
  • aids in balancing acids and alkaline
  • helps prevent cancer
  • encourages inter-cellular production of energy
  • helps detoxify the liver
  • protects cellular membranes
  • strengthens walls of the gut
  • helps prevent and treat arthritis
  • works as a detox
  • probiotic
  •  helps reduce or eliminate symptoms of fiber myalgia, depression. anxiety, and others.
I know some people who just drink/treat kombucha as a medicine and others who drink it often, I prefer to drink it often because I like it and it makes me feel good :)

When cleaning things (including hands) to use with making or handling a SCOBY and/or kombucha you will want to use distilled vinegar. Soap will actually kill some of the bacteria/probiotics.  

1) A brewing container: decide how much you want to make to choose the size of the container. you want to use glass

2) A kombucha mushroom or SCOBY

3) 12 cups of water (3 liters): preferably filtered

4) 5 to 6 tea bags: organic Oolong, green or black tea. You can use a combination

5) 3/4 cup sugar

6) 1 1/5 cup starter tea: Already made kombucha. You can use some from a previous batch
or you can use store bought but be sure its unflavored & raw

7) 1 cheese cloth: You can also use a coffee filter or a paper towel. You want to be sure that whatever you use it covers the top of the container. 

8) A rubber band: or just something to secure the cheese cloth, string will work also.

   1) bring the water to a boil then remove from the heat: oxygen and carbon are needed for the fermentation process and boiling reduces their amount in the water

2) add the tea bags and steep for as long as directed or for about 10 minutes

3) remove the tea bags

4) add the sugar till it all dissolves

5) cool the sugar/tea solution to room temperature: you want it to cool so that the SCOBY does not get temperature shocked and die. Be sure nothing gets into the solution.

6) once the solution is cooled pour it into the brewing container 

7) add the starter tea and stir 

8) add the SCOBY : you want the mixture in the brewing container and the SCOBY to all be the same temperature. Remember SCOBYs are living things.

9) cover the container with the cheese cloth and secure with the rubber band: you will want to double or triple the cheese cloth over. the goal is to let no pathogens in while still letting the oxygen in.

10) put the brewing container into a quiet, undisturbed spot: every time you brew another batch of kombucha another SCOBY should form on top of the other
-factors promoting the formation of a baby SCOBY
constant temperatures (SCOBYs like 73 to 83 degrees)
undisturbed places (every time you disturb your brew the SCOBY that is trying to form will have to start forming all over again
smoke (ex. in kitchen)
direct sunlight ( brewing in light is okay though)

11) let brew/ ferment for 6-8 days (when temp is constantly at 80 degrees): takes about 2 weeks when brewing in the 70s

12) when your kombucha is done!: it should taste kind of like semi-sweet cider or vinegar 

13) set aside 1 1/5 cup for your next brew

*You can flavor your kombucha with different juices or concentrates. Try experimenting.
*store and SCOBYs you are not using to brew in a glass container with kombucha. Be sure its covered with cheese cloth
*You can bottle your kombucha and keep it in the fridge
*If any pathogens get in your kombucha (fruit flys like it a lot) then it is automatically bad and you need to throw it out along with the baby SCOBY. You can check the mother SCOBY to see if it has any pathogens, if not then you don't need to throw it out. 

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SCOBY: I have 1 for sale at the moment for $20 (I will have more later) I can deliver it to you for extra (Austin area only) Contact me if you would like it! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Temps & Expo Day

Expo day is this Friday! Expo day is where every student at IOS presents their projects for their independent study that they have been working on all semester. There's going to be a potluck and people are able to check out the school and the campus, pretty exciting I know. Plus it's the last day before break! I'm decided to have an exhibit, I'll have some remedies I've made out and some golden milk for people to try. I'm also making a book of how to make the remedies I've learned about. I should get working on that soon....  My friend Cesis independent study is punk fashion so I'm going to be dressing in steampunk stuff for her. My apothecary class has also made a bunch of things this semester that we will have for sale. Stuff like sugar scrubs, soaps, lip balms, salves, etc. Lots of people have been buying them to give as Christmas presents.  It's all going to be exciting :)

I thought today I'd talk about things to help with fevers since lots of people have been home sick with them. So a general thing you can drink when you're sick is peppermint tea. It's super medicinal and it has a cooling effect. With children it's best to have them drink spearmint tea instead because peppermint has menthol in it. I personally like Spearmint because it has that sweet taste but peppermint is more potent. You can also add a drop of basil oil to a spoon full of honey or 2 to 4 drops to a glass of water and take this about twice a day. For MILD FEVERS you can bake a large onion for 40 minutes at 400(F). When it's done you mix the juice with an equal amount of honey. You want to take 1 to 2 tsp an hour up to 8 times a day. For HIGH FEVERS you can drink yarrow and boneset tea with a pinch of cayenne and/or you can add some cinnamon or fresh grated ginger. Of course if your temperature is about 104(F) I suggest going to the hospital. Oh and another thing you can use for fevers and general sickness is this garlic, lemon and ginger mix. Crush a medium sized garlic clove, grate a similarly sized piece of ginger and squeeze the juice of one lemon into a small bowl. Mix in 1 tsp of honey. I like to add a little more honey than that. You could take this straight or add it to 1 cup of warm water. You should take this up to 3 times a day. My absolute favorite thing for fevers is dark chocolate. Yes, I said chocolate. You don't want to get milk chocolate or some with lots of sugar. Chocolate chocolate chocolate (:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All Natural Lozenges!

The other day we had an Herbalist, Ginger Web, come to our school for a little activity (I will give you the link to her website at the bottom of this post). She showed us how to make lozenges because lots of people are getting sore throats this time of the year. I was so energized to make these that for a while I forgot that I should write this all down for my blog and project. One of my teachers reminded me though, so here you go :)


You'll need:

Powdered Slippery Elm bark (I had never even heard of this tree before. It grows in central and northern America and even some in Canada)
Rose petal powder
Licorice powder
A small bowl and a spoon
A sheet of wax paper

To make:

The reason I didn't give measurements was because you don't really need them and I wasn't given any. The goal is to make a "dough" that you can roll into marble sized balls.
First, in your bowl, mix together some honey and about a half cup of the slippery elm. Once you have it the consistency you'd like, add in the licorice, rose petal, and cinnamon to taste. Add no more than a spoon full of each. I don't really prefer licorice but it soothes and kinda coats your throat so I just add more cinnamon than licorice. The slippery elm has the same effect.  Add more honey if needed and stir.
 Once you've got that how you like it, sprinkle some slippery elm onto the sheet of wax paper. Take some of the mix you made and roll it into a marble sized ball. Take the ball and roll it in the slippery elm so it's coated then set aside. You might want to put some of the slippery elm on your hands, the honey makes everything sticky :) When you've got them all done, you can taste one or put them in the fridge. Keeping them in the fridge will harden them. I've heard they'll be completely hardened after a week, but you can eat them before that, just they won't be very hard.

Let me know if these lozenges worked for you or if you made them a different way!

Gingers website is

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Days is my Favorite Theme Song

Oh boy, winter....

        Scientists have proven that a lack of sunlight can either worsen already existent depression or lead to a mild case of it. Meaning staying inside to much is not to good for those emotions of yours. But sometimes we can't escape it, like during winter when the sun pretty much never shows her face. It is also estimated that 19 million Americans suffer from depression, serious and mild cases. According to "Prescription anti-depressant medications can produce side effects that worsen the symptoms of depression." Such as drowsiness, fatigue, agitation, violent behavior, etc.

Okay, okay. I get it. Depression is bad. What can I do about it?

        Well, for starters being healthy is a big factor, being active and eating lots of fruits and veggies. I've also heard oatmeal is helpful? And some people are really sensitive to the entertainment they are giving themselves, such as sad movies, songs etc. Most people don't even realize it, so you could try filtering what you're letting yourself watch and/or listen to. Aromatherapy is good too. A little rosemary or thyme oil behind your ears to smell throughout the day.  You can drink lemon balm tea, 1 to 2 times a day. This one's easy because grocery stores usually carry this tea. There are also a ton of other herbs out there that are claimed to help with depression, but possibly the most popular is St. Johns wort. A book I read suggested making a tea by steeping 1 to 2 tsp of St. Johns wort (per cup) in hot water for 10 minutes. Drinking 1 to 2 cups of this a day for 4 to 6 weeks.

If you have serious depression, I suggest seeking professional help. Lots of love and best wishes to you if so <3

If you have tried or do try any of the things listed above or have your own methods for helping depression, I'd love to hear how they worked out for you!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cure For The Cold

The weather is finally acting like it should in fall!
My friends are excited about this. Me, not so much. For my I.S. (independent study) I chose to mainly focus on sicknesses and such that come with this cold weather.

I have recently been informed of a delicious and nutritious drink called Golden Milk. It's a warm drink that has many health benefits. It's a great treat on a chilly night. It can help prevent cancer, its a treatment for heart disease, it's an anti-inflammatory and it lubricates your joints so it helps prevent and cure arthritis as well as any joint pains. There are so many more but I'll keep it short n sweet. It's nice to drink before going to bed, so I make it for my mom, dad, and I at night. I've noticed it has been helping with my growing pains. It's also been cleaning something out of my system but I'm sure you're not going to want the details on that.

Here's how to make it:

  • 1/8 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8oz milk (you can use almond milk, rice milk, or any kind you want. I use regular cow milk)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil (you can use almond oil, but the original recipe calls for ghee. I just use coconut oil because I LOVE coconut. The oil you use will effect the taste.)

  • In a small sauce pan combine turmeric and water, bring to a boil and stir for 8 min. remove from heat.
  • In another sauce pan combine oil and milk. bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the stuff on the bottom doesn't burn, then immediately remove from heat.
  • Add the turmeric mixture to the milk mixture and stir until the milk is completely yellow. Serve warm.


P.S. I've also heard that Golden Milk breaks up the mucus deep in the chest. This plus the fact that the warmth and oil soothes the throat means its probably good to drink when you have a cough or something of the sort.