Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kombucha -- Really Old Tea

If you should happen to have dinner over at our house, chances are that we will offer you some kombucha with your meal.

And you may try it. . . and vomit. Or you may try it and remark, "It's not that bad. I could drink it." Later you might compare it to Apple Cider Vinegar. Sometimes a taste bud has tried it and begins to crave this fermented Russian beverage.

Kombucha is an old drink that has recently been re-branded as the next healthy soda drink.

What is kombucha? Commonly referred to as a mushroom, it actually is a "symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY)." Though I don't think that Wikipedia is a reliable source of truthful information, their article on this selfless organism is interesting and filled with pictures.

Many claims are made of the medicinal effects of this beverage, but we drink it for three reasons.
  1. We like the taste of it.
  2. It is easy to make.
  3. It is good to ingest a fermented beverage or food alongside your meal.
Initially, making your fermented tea (that is sometimes delightfully fizzy, or "sparkly" as my son would say) can be overwhelming. However, it really is like riding a bike to prepare this healthy cocktail. Once you learn how, you never forget.

I'll show you.

  • Boil 3 quarts of distilled water, or at least filtered water.

  • Add 1 - 2 cups of WHITE sugar after the water has come to a boil. I know this cheap refined white crap is HORRIBLE for you but the good guys win in the end. I can't explain other than the SCOBY Mother eats this disgusting stuff up when pregnant with her baby. Boil for another 5 minutes.
  • Add 4 Lipton tea bags. It has been recommended to me to not use organic tea. Once again . . . I don't understand. I have simply read that organic tea causes mold on your SCOBY.

  • Allow tea to steep for 10 minutes. Often, though, I forget about my bathing tea bags for an hour or more!

  • Gently lift your SCOBY, making sure that no metal (. If a baby is attached . . . leave her there in the NICU of your home. She is not ready to be weaned from her Mother. But if a baby SCOBY grew while the last batch was fermenting, you can allow someone to adopt her--or keep her for yourself and brew two kombucha teas.

  • Place the Mother (and nursing child, if there is one) into the newly brewed sugary tea that is now at room temperature. Add 1/2 cup of the recently fermented tea to the new brew.

  • Place tape across the large bowl in an X so that the towel doesn't fall into the bowl.

  • Place a towel over the bowl and secure it with a large rubber band to keep out unwanted vermin.

  • If a quiet and reasonably dark place exists in your house, allow your Mother to rest peacefully for 7 to 10 days, making sure to check on her every now and then . . . because you know how mothers are these days. They like attention and they liked to be covered with praise, I mean a little fermented tea. There is nothing like a Mother who has dry, flaky skin!

In a nutshell, this is how I make Kombucha. I strongly encourage you to read a more reliable source on the art of making Kombucha tea. I have summarized what I do, but I have not included the scientific reasons as to why you need to use glass, Lipton tea, white sugar, and certain placement issues. My SCOBY Mother is a decent of a place called Laurel Farms.


Sarah said...

ahh... I never knew that's why it was called a SCOBY!

Conny said...

wow, I've never heard of such a thing ... very interesting!!!

Anonymous said...

I've always used organic tea for my kombucha - never any mold! Even when I left the kombucha out accidentally for an extended time (oops! it was out for a month)
I've heard many, many times to always use organic tea. During the fermentation process, the toxins from the chemicals become worse in some way. If you want, I will send you the information I have found.

Baby Signs(R) With Elizabeth ICI, INC. said...

Great post! I brew my own Kombucha as well, it's yummy :) I'm about to start brewing more so I can add some to the homemade dog food!

Laurie said...

Hi! I wandered over from Michelle's blog. I love my kombucha, too. I've used both Lipton and organic teas, and never had a problem with mold growth. Most of what I've seen indicates that using organic tea is preferred, but if you're not using organic then Lipton is one of the better brands to use because they generally have a reasonably high quality product.

King's Daughter said...

Love your blog! Have you ever heard of or tried water kefir?

Amy Stempkowski said...

Do you have any SCOBY's you want to share. I've just started brewing my own and sadly I think I may have killed mine (I'm not getting any babies). I'm bummed because I've been eager to brew my own.