Kombucha is a healthful beverage made with the help of a creepy looking blob of yeast and bacteria also known as a "scoby". Kombucha is said to have antioxidants and help with digestion. It also tastes very good -- kind of sweet and tangy at the same time. My first taste of kombucha came when my mom offered me a bottle on one of our sunny convertible rides to Lake Michigan. It was refreshing and fizzy -- but expensive. At around $4 for the bottle, I couldn't see myself buying it very often.
Well, it turns out that kombucha is not hard to make at home. You do need some starter, which can be found online or from someone else that is already brewing kombucha. I got some "mother" kombucha from my pals Jen and Rich last weekend when I visited. This is what it looked like when Jen sent it home with me.
I then boiled a gallon of water (do not use chlorinated water as this would kill the delicate cultures that cause the process to work) and added 1 cup of sugar. I turned off the heat and stirred in the sugar until it was completely dissolved. Then, add tea bags. Jen said she uses 8 tea bags for one gallon. Other recipes I see say 5-6. This should be tea without additives if possible -- and it should have black, green or white tea as a base. Jen has been experimenting with flavored teas (and I sampled several - yum!), but I started with white tea for mine. After brewing, remove the tea bags, cover the pot and let it cool down to room temperature.
At this point, I put my tea in my brand new crock (Christmas gift from Mom) and gently added the "mother". I let it do it's magic all week -- but was sad because I couldn't see what was happening inside the crock (it is one of those beautiful stoneware sauerkraut crocks - from the Yoder department store in Shipshewana, IN -- love it!). I switched it over to a gallon glass jar yesterday. This photo is deceiving though -- kombucha really should have some fabric over the mouth of the jar, secured with a rubber band.
The yeast and bacteria live off of the tea/sugar and the scary jelly-fish looking blob grows bigger. Mine grew another layer on the top so I have two kind of separate pieces now (because I moved it to another jar - normally you wouldn't disturb it as much as I did). When the new layer is about 1/8" it should be done. I'm gonna let mine go a couple more days because it was still quite sweet when I tasted it. As time passes, it gets more of a vinegar flavor. I've got mason jars with plastic lids to store it in and hopefully retain some of the fizziness. Before I jar it up, I'm gonna make another batch of tea and let it cool. The scoby always needs tea and sugar to live in, so there is a little bit of a time investment here. I figure 20 minutes a week is not bad for such an inexpensive, healthful beverage.
Obviously, I am new to kombucha brewing, but there are a bunch of resources available online if you want to learn more. I really found this site useful.
*It is important to note that when you first start drinking kombucha, you should start at about 2 oz. per day and work your way up to more. Kombucha can make your tummy rumble (or worse) because of all the probiotics it contains. Once your tummy is used to all the healthy stuff in it, you can drink a couple of cups a day if you want.