Monday, September 7, 2009


I made Kombucha. And before I start my story, you need to know that Kombucha is fermented tea. The theory is fairly similar to vinegar. You start with a strong batch of sweetened tea, add the proper bacteria, cover and let ferment. After a week or so, the little beasties have eaten the sugar and the caffeine and you are left with a carbonated, tangy, slightly sweet drink.

Kombucha is supposed to be very healthy for you, it has been around for thousands of years in Japan and China. Many other cultures have similar drinks based on their local diets. Russians have kvass, and kefir and it is also somewhat related to yogurt and kimchi. In other words the fermentation process and live bacteria are good for digestion and your body.

I started drinking kombucha several months ago when my niece brought be some from Whole Foods. Unbeknownst to her, I had been reading about it, but she gave it me saying this looks like something you would drink…I tried it and was hooked. But, it is expensive!!! $3.99 for a 16 oz bottle. After several months of thinking, I decided to make it myself.

This is actually my second batch… the first one didn’t turn out too well. I ordered a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) on eBay for the first batch. The SCOBY is the thing that floats on top and looks like a thick pancake – it also has all the necessary beasties to safely make this without mold growing on it. When the SCOBY arrived in the mail, it was a flimsy, barely there floating thingy in some liquid. It didn’t look at all like pictures I had seen online. I followed the instructions anyways, covered it and put it in a dark place. After several days there was mold growing on top. The SCOBY wasn’t growing and I decided that this needed to be thrown out.

Several weeks later, I decided to try again. I didn’t want to buy something online again, so I decided to try to make my own SCOBY from the store bought stuff. Since this is a raw, unpasteurized drink, even though it’s filtered it still has the good organisms in it. I drank about half the bottle, poured the other half into a wide mouth jar, covered with a paper towel and a week later had a nice thick pancake looking SCOBY on top. I made strong tea, sweetened it and put the SCOBY in.

A few days later, my mother came up to visit and kept asking if she could throw everything out – because this was obviously not something edible! This is what it looked like after fermenting for 8 days. I strained it and bottled it to increase the carbonation. (It looks fine from the side...In fact, you can't really tell anything is going on unless you lift the towel as in this photo...)
This batch turned out! I even was brave enough to drink it! And I do have to say, that my very Western trained brain was screaming at me that this would kill me…The real issue for me however was when my oldest son came in and begged to try it.

He loves kombucha and knew that we were making it…After I strained it, I finally let him have a little, just because honestly, this stuff looks gross…He loved it and kept asking for more. Several days have passed and we all seem to be fine, so I guess this was a success! I have a few more batches going on the counter and am now experimenting with adding flavors like dried cranberries. However, Ryan says this stuff tastes better than the stuff we got at the store!

Here is a list of purported health benefits from drinking kombucha:
-strengthens the Immune system

- detoxifies, cleansing the blood

- heals and strengthens the Digestive tract

- plays a vital role in regenerating bowel flora

- lengthens the life span

- is a health remedy against chickenpox and shingles

- reduces the formation of wrinkles

- discourages the formation of cancer

- prevents adverse menopausal symptoms

- restores visual acuity

- heals arthritis

- enhances sexual drive

- heals sweaty feet, constipation, joint and back pains

- heals abscesses

- heals blocked arteries and diabetes

- strengthens kidneys

- heals cataracts and heart disease

- restores the appetite and heals sleeping disorders

- reduces the chance of gall stones and liver problems

- reduces obesity and stops diarrhea

- heals hemorrhoids

- helps to restore color to gray hair and improves baldness

- encourages body rejuvenation

Of course none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, but the Chinese have been using this for centuries to maintain or regain health. For me, it’s helping me get away from my addiction to Dr. Pepper and if it helps my digestion well then that's just an added bonus!

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