Kombucha is a non-alcoholic fizzy fermented tea, chock full of probiotics, B-vitamins, and pH balancing acids for a happy gut!  Known as an "immortal health elixir",

It is made by combining black tea sweetened with sugar, a cup or so of existing kombucha, and a SCOBY --  Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast.  This mixture is left to incubate on a warm, undisturbed shelf for 1-4 weeks, until all the sugar has been consumed and the drink reaches the desired acidity. Left long enough, it begins to smell and taste very similar to apple cider vinegar. 

After this initial fermentation, the tea may be rebottled plain or with fruit, juice, tea, or herbs (without the mama) and left to ferment another 2-4 days. This second fermentation gives it the characteristic carbonation! Just be careful - pressure can build up if the jar is sealed too tightly and left too long. I prefer mason jars with old canning lids which seem to let just enough CO2 out to prevent explosion.

Obtaining a SCOBY:
- Buy one online, fresh or dehydrated - costing up to $40
- Get one from a friend who makes kombucha - this is the best option since it's free and requires no work from you! Kombucha tea reproduces the SCOBY every few batches, and the old one gets thrown, or given, away.
- Grow one yourself! See the foodrenegade for instructions and great pictures

The SCOBY, aka 'mama' or 'mushroom' has the texture of...well...really thick jello? I made one myself with a $3 bottle from Whole Foods on January 27th, and am on my 4th delicious 1 gallon batch for the cost of plain black tea bags and sugar! 
I have made ginger, blackberry, and blueberry flavors in the past all with good success.

My first SCOBY... (so small, but I was so proud of it!)
... and my current batch! What a beauty. Note also that I switched to this "continuous brew" system - much more convenient, less clean up, no need to touch the 'mama', and sterile samples. (I fish the old 'mama' out with sterilized tongs once a new 'baby' colony develops)

Today I divided up the batch into several small jars to test out a few new flavors - this way it's not a terrible loss if one turns out to be less than delicious. 

From left to right:
Lemon Zinger (Celestial Seasonings)
Cold Ease (Yogi tea)
Moroccan Mint tea

*CAUTION: Please be advised against drinking kombucha if you have known liver disease, kidney failure, or any metabolic conditions which are sensitive to pH changes (such as acidosis)

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