Friday, November 19, 2010

Brewing Kombucha and Why I am Not At All Trendy

I don’t do well with trends. If something becomes wildly popular there is a good chance that I will want nothing to do with it as a result. I think perhaps it is a fear of being judged as just a faceless followers when I really want to be known for making my own decisions and being my own woman. I can’t bring myself to watch the new hottest show on TV Glee! for that very reason. That is not to say that if you are a Glee! devotee that you are just some faceless follower. But there is definitely something deep in me that drives me to be different than other people, for good or bad.

Kombucha is becoming a hot trend right now. Although, it is relatively unknown outside the greenie and foodies circles. But to those in the know, holding a bottle of Kombucha declares that you are in the know about the latest trend in nutritional science, probiotics. And at three to five dollars per bottle it also shows that you are either in the yuppie crowd who can blithely afford such a drink, or you value your health so much as to make yourself broke. But, I could only resist the siren’s call of Kombucha for so long. Because the truth is, it is really delicious. And no matter how hard I am trying to be a loner, good taste trumps all.

Kombucha is fermented tea. In much the same way that yogurt is fermented milk and wine is fermented grape juice, Kombucha is tea and sugar into which a culture has been introduced. I love beer and wine (like, really love), but lately booze just hasn’t been sitting right with me. Two glasses and I wake up the next morning with a headache (what a bummer). Not to mention the stress alcohol places on your liver. I am too old to be a hot mess these days. So the only answer is to drink less. I have said a few times that it would be great if I could drink a few beers without the effects of alcohol. Because I really like the flavor and it goes so well with food! But since I have been preggers a couple times, I know that non-alcoholic beer is not so good. Alcohol free beer makes me think that it has been processed in some way I wouldn’t like and plus, it doesn’t taste that great. And I have too much self respect to even attempt alcohol free wine. But Kombucha is a wonderfully healthy solution to my problem. It has the same tangy sweet flavor as wine but without all the alcohol. Now there are trace amounts of alcohol, but it amounts to less than .5%. So for those of you who don’t have an adverse reaction to the stuff, it should be fine. Plus it is filled with active live probiotics, amino acids and enzymes. All things that are super for supporting proper digestion. Plus it carbonates over time and end up with these lovely fizzy little bubbles. Delightful.

I ordered a dehydrated starter culture (or SCOBI) from a great website, Cultures For Life. They sell all manner of cheesemaking cultures, sourdough starters and kombuchas starters. They also have equipment for sprouting grains, etc. They are a great mail order site. It is so much easier for me to order from a website than to try and locate something here in the city. No doubt there is something around town, but there is no telling whether the one shop that has it is anywhere near me. Although Manhattan is dense, it is difficult to easily travel. So mail order is the way to go.

In a one quart container I placed 3 cups of almost boiling water and a ¼ cup of organic cane sugar. I let two tea bags steep for several hours until the water cooled down to room temperature. Then I added ½ cup of vinegar (I forgot to buy organic vinegar, boo, but I just couldn’t wait). And now that lovely mix is sitting on my kitchen counter with a towel covering it (no tight lids) and will for the next 20-30 days while my SCOBI works it’s little microbial magic. As it moves forward I will update you all on it’s progress. I will have to rebrew another batch once I get my culture up and running. So I figure I will be enjoying Kombucha during my annual New Year’s Party. You know I will document the whole experience for you!

In the mean time, do your self a favor and buy GT’s Raw Kombucha. I am doing so and saving all my bottles. Because GT’s comes packaged in a great heavy glass with a tight fitting lid. Even though it is $3 a pop, I figure getting the bottle out of the deal makes the value a little higher. Try some, you never know, you might really like it.


  1. I love my kombucha! I make about two gallons a week. It's amazing that people spend so much on it when it's so simple to make. Thanks for the rundown of the technique!

  2. Sad that it takes so long...The part of me that needs instant gratification is going to go ballistic when I try this! But if I have done my research correctly each time it takes less and less time...right? but it is also such a small batch? 3 cups? I could drink that in an hour :(

  3. Wendalyn, I am actually brewing this batch just to rehydrate my SCOBY. I will brew a whole gallon once this batch is set. I think i will be able to do that in about 10 days now. Once i get it rolling my plan is to have one batch for drinking and one batch brewing. I am excitef. But yes, it's a long process. I will be enjoying kombucha during my new year's party. Probably not before :(