Hello, Friends. On Sunday we drove to Vermont for Easter brunch, an egg hunt, and a stroll up a wooded mountain road. Sun poured in through the cars windows. I wrote two sentences before David turned onto the highway. In the backseat, Luke sounded out “huh-oh-emm-ee” (home) while reading a train book, and Cody sputtered “eehmmmeun” from his chair. I forgot to pack the kombucha (a fermented sweet tea drink) and a jacket for the day. All normal stuff here.
Except forgetting the kombucha wasn’t as flippant as leaving behind a jacket on a warmer day. A few ounces a day is a new average for me and not having that smoky sweet tea on the ride to counter many sleepless nights meant a sluggish and possibly allergy riddled day ahead. A few weeks ago I decided to solidify my kombucha habit and make it from scratch. Two cookbooks suggested I needed to purchase or inherit a special SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, aka “mother” or “mushroom”) to brew the tea. Yet I wanted a simpler process. I had read somewhere online about growing a scoby from a bottle of raw organic kombucha you can find at the store. I also wanted the scoop on the effervescent tea and to answer my list of questions. One, what’s the history of kombucha; Two, what are the benefits and risks of brewing it at home; Three, can I grow my own scoby?
I turned to the interwebs for answers. Normally I begin with a Google search to get background details on a story subject. Since I recently discovered Bing, I switched. Type in “History of Kombucha” in both search engines and you’ll find the results are similar. What I like about Bing is the clean interface and design; simplified option to view web, image, and video searches; and credits earned through Bing Rewards, a program that gives Bing users credits for each search (think frequent flyer points for the interwebs). Credits can be redeemed for gift cards to Amazon, Sephora, Starbucks, and more or donated to a charity of your choice. Available for both Android and iOS, Bing Rewards lets you search across platforms and on the go. Which is where I find myself most often.
Kombucha is traditionally made with a brew of black tea and cane sugar and then fermented with a SCOBY. Its exact origins are unknown but most speculate the tea dates back to the Qin Dynasty (220BC) in China where it was known as the “tea of immortality” although a number of cultures around the world have a similar fermented drink. Over time, the tea made its way into Russia, Germany, India, and beyond.
According to online sources, the benefits of drinking the tea have long outweighed the risks. Kombucha has a rich history of health benefits that claim to prevent and fight cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases. Other benefits include detoxification, joint support, digestive support, and immune booster. The tea is packed with B-vitamins, antioxidants, and glucaric acids as well.
To date, there isn’t conclusive medical evidence supporting the health benefits of drinking kombucha tea in US. I suppose like most food and drink, moderation is key.
Brewing kombucha at home was once the only way to sample the drink. Now major supermarkets and health food stores carry it. A homemade supply means you choose your own flavor options according to taste. I prefer a smoky kombucha made from Lapsang Souchong tea but you can choose your black tea of choice and add raw juices, extracts, herbs, and spices. It also means a watchful eye on the fermentation process to keep your brew clean and safe.
Here’s the method I followed to grow a SCOBY:
1. buy a bottle of organic raw kombucha
2. pour contents of the bottle into a quart-size wide-mouth glass jar (SCOBY will grow to the diameter of the jar)
3. cover the jar with a clean tea towel and secure with a rubber band to keep unwanted pests and debris out
4. store at room temperature until the SCOBY grows to 1/4″ thick
In a week or so I should have my own brew to report back to you on plus a few extra rewards points from all my research. Have you made kombucha at home? Any tips to share?
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