On Mothers Day, I was blessed with another “daughter”: a perfectly slimy, thoroughly unappealing looking, squishy, whitish patty. She won’t be winning any beauty contests, but she is teaming with life, and healthy energy! Earlier than I had expected, the “mother” kombucha “SCOBY” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) from which I brewed my first batch, had already grown a mini version of herself. I was delighted!
When first introduced to the supposed elixir, it was described to me as an effervescent fermented tea made from a mushroom. Though I am, for the most part, open-minded about new foods (particularly ones surrounded by information about their numerous health benefits), fermented mushroom tea was a stretch. As it turns out, it is not made from a mushroom, but a “SCOBY” which resembles a mushroom (or rather a pancake, I think) in appearance.
Kombucha traces its history back to Russian as well as ancient Japan and China, often in a context of profound health and healing. Although conclusive scientific studies have yet to be completed in the US, centuries of anecdotal evidence have convinced many to add this beverage to their diet, and some have used it as a successful healing therapy.
The drink’s naturally occurring bacteria serve to replenish our internal gut flora, which improves our digestion and boosts immunity. It contains glucuronic acid, which is effective in cleansing the body of toxins. In addition, the tea provides a worthwhile amount of vitamin B complex, antioxidants and minerals. It appeals to health-seekers, do-it-yourselfers, low-carb dieters and foodies in numbers large enough to have caught the attention of beverage makers such as Red Bull, Coca-Cola, and Celestial Seasonings (all of whom have leapt on board the kombucha train). Being more of the DIY persuasion, I gave it a try.
How to make kombucha home-brew:
When the much anticipated SCOBY (which can be ordered online) arrives in the mail:
Remove tea bags or leaves, add SCOBY and fill jar with additional cool water. Allow to sit, covered with a cloth, in a warm place:
After one-two weeks, start to taste your brew. It will continue to ferment (as the bacteria will continue to eat the sugar), making the flavor stronger and less sweet the longer you can wait.
Save the SCOBY (which may already be growing a “daughter” so that you can start making twice as much) and serve your refreshing home brew.