Kombucha for a Healthy Brain

Ninety-percent of serotonin, the neurotransmitter commonly associated with joy (and which also aids in learning and cognition), is produced in the body’s digestive system. This biological fact is crucial. For you. Right fucking now.

February and March are notoriously gray seasons, with little sun and lots of wet. Every year at around this time, my friends disappear. They’re probably doing the same thing I’m doing: indoor sedentary activities that can be accomplished in front of yet another series run-through of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (or Futurama, South Park, Friends, etc. – pick your poison as far as comfort TV goes).

And who can blame them? When it finally warms up enough to go outside, the fog and spitting rain make the outdoors unpleasant. So repeated evenings at home turn into a rut that’s made worse by the lack of vitamin D from the absent sun and the reduced endorphin action from decreased physical activity.

In short: we need all the serotonin we can get. A healthy gut is essential to accomplish this goal. The best place to start is to boost the numbers of all the good microbiota that live in your shit chute. These cute li’l guys help you out by aiding in your digestion.

These are actually water bears, but look how cute!

Getting more of them is as easy as putting some in your face hole, which brings me to the star of this post: kombucha!

Kombucha is a reliable way to get quality microbiota. It’s also super easy and fun to make. Take eight cups of tea, cooled to room temperature:

Any tea works.

Add one cup of this:


And add to it some of this**:


**This is the only ingredient where brand matters. You can get starter from a friend, but barring that, GT brand raw kombucha is widely available and works every time.

Top all of that off with a coffee filter (or something likewise porous) and let it sit for 7–30 days no matter what size batch you have. On your first go-round, your goal is to form a scoby, so starting with less tea and sugar is fine.

This was my first batch.

A scoby is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. For those of us who slept through science class, think of it like a slimy coral reef for good bacteria – like the kind of bacteria that lives in your gut and helps you efficiently transform food into energy.

Let me tell you, I am so proud of my slime. I love to feed it sugar and watch it bubble. This is about as nurturing as I get, by the way. Enjoy this glimpse of the tender me.

Kombucha_culture_development (1)
I carry this photo in my wallet.

The longer you let your kombucha ferment, the less sweet it tastes. Just remember that the sugar is food for your scoby life. It can actually starve, at which point it will turn darker brown and look very sad. Don’t neglect your scoby.

I’m calling Slime Protective Services.

Once your kombucha is to your liking, reserve two cups or so to keep as a starter. Put the rest in the fridge. This is a good time to add any additional ingredients. I flavor my tea with ginger, lemon, and turmeric.

So far, I’ve been drinking 8–12 ounces every day. Experts who know these things, though, say you’re not supposed to drink too much or consider it a cure-all. Consume responsibly – that is, in moderation – and remember that your kombucha bottle is a habitat for bacteria. So don’t, like, keep it next to your toilet or something.