Kombucha: My New Bubbly

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!

As a follow-up to a recent post about probiotics, here’s more about what has become one of my favorite food forms (well drink, actually) of naturally occurring probiotic bacteria: Kombucha.

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 and eager to try 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:

Brew strong black tea (ideally organic) with organic sugar:

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 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.

Curious to know more? Various websites, such as kombucha camp, and these books can help.


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6 thoughts on “Kombucha: My New Bubbly

  1. I love my kombucha routine, especially since I’ve given up making kefir (at least for a while, I’m cutting back on dairy). I’ve been making it now for over a year, and I did find that brewing time is shorter in the hot summer months. Do you have any insights about where the sugar and caffeine go? (…or, if they go anywhere, that is)

    • The sugar is eaten by the scoby…that’s what causes the fermentation. The longer the scoby eats the sugar, the more vinagery your batch will taste. There is also a small amount of caffeine left over as well as alcohol produced…but only a tiny bit.

  2. Hi Eleanor,

    I was hesitant to get into kombucha because I didn’t like all the added sugar, but when I realized the bacteria grows and thrives because it eats the sugar, the picture totally changed. Of course, this is why when we eat sugar, it allows bacteria we don’t want to thrive and it’s harder for us to get well! While sugar hampers our immune system, kombucha strengthens it.

    The caffeine, I am pretty sure, stays in the drink. I’ve made a couple of batches with half green and half herbal teas (delicious!), and used naturally decaffeinated green and black tea as well.

  3. Hey! So thrilled to find this. I thought kombucha sounded scary at first, too, but since I started drinking it, I have kind of become a kombucha evangelist. I started making my own recently, and after looking up how to do it, I actually just released a mobile app to help other people overcome some of the same problems I had. I could drink kombucha by the gallon. It’s the only thing that can curb the infamous coffee crave.

  4. Pingback: Benefits of Kombucha Tea: Why is it Government Regulated? « Talesfromthelou's Blog

  5. Pingback: Kombucha Musings | Lil' Suburban Homestead

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