Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kombucha Tea

A couple of days ago I mentioned I was making kombucha tea and that I should explain a little more about kombucha in the future. Well today is the future. I should mention that there is a giveaway over on Kelly the Kitchen Kop's blog which spurred me to do this (I get a free entry by blogging about it!). I'll explain more about the giveaway further down in the post.

Simply put, kombucha is fermented tea. To ferment the tea you have to have what is called a SCOBY, which is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeasts. Here is a picture of my current brew:

Looks pretty gross, huh? That SCOBY is at least 1.5 inches. They don't have to be that thick, but I store my extras together, in what a lot of brewers call a "scoby hotel" and they continue to grow.

The process involves brewing tea, adding sugar, and then adding the scoby and some previously brewed kombucha tea to the cooled tea and sugar (if you want my recipe let me know). About 10 days later (depends on the temperature of your house), I have a tart, bubbly drink. Sometimes I add fruit juice or fruit to the final product, re-ferment it and have a wonderfully flavored carbonated wine-like drink. It does produce a small amount of alcohol, but it's not much maybe like .05%.

Besides enjoying the refreshing taste of kombucha tea, I also benefit from the many different probiotics that are created during the brewing process. I don't remember how I first heard about Kombucha, but it was probably when I saw a commercial product at the store and tried it. I was instantly hooked (Bo took a little while to get used to it). I drank about a bottle a day for a month and then realized at almost $3/day this was not incredibly economical. I quit drinking it for awhile and noticed that my IBS symptoms started back. It wasn't until I stopped drinking the kombucha, that I realized I was actually benefiting from it. I just drank kombucha because I enjoyed it, but once I started feeling badly again I began doing some research to see if I could make it myself.

I bought my first scoby off of ebay for $6, I think. The cool thing about kombucha is that each time you brew it a new scoby forms on top of the tea. This way you can eventually have multiple brews going on or share with friends and family. It's so rewarding for me to share my extra scobies.

I've recently been seeking out/learning about other various fermented drinks and foods. There are tons of possibilities out there, amazingly. Fermented foods and beverages contain probiotics which are healthy bacteria for your digestive tract. Yogurt is probably the most popular example of a fermented food. mmm. Don't forget sauerkraut and pickles...mmm.

Earlier in this post, I mentioned the "Cultures for Health Giveaway" over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop's blog. In this contest, you can enter to win three different start cultures. The choices are yogurt, buttermilk, water kefir grains (aka Tibecos), kombucha, and a sourdough starter.

If I win I would choose the water kefir grains, sourdough starter and probably the yogurt starter. I've never tried water kefir, but I've heard you can make different flavors and it satisfies that want for soda and is equally refreshing. I love to make my own bread and it would be awesome to make a nice sourdough.

I could honestly go on and on and on about the benefits of probiotics and fermented foods. If I did today this post would never end. However, in the future maybe I'll post about one thing at a time. I learn better when I'm not bombarded...haha.


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