Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from tea. According to the new book Mastering Fermentation, its roots are in China, where people began drinking it more than 2,000 years ago.
Kombucha has exploded in popularity in recent years, and it’s one of those foods/drinks to which people attach all sorts of (often wildly extravagant) health claims. While I can’t personally attest to its ability to prevent or cure disease, it is indeed high in B vitamins and detoxifying acids; it’s also a wonderful source of natural probiotics.
I first started drinking kombucha because of its potential to promote good health, but I’ve continued to do so because I adore the taste and the subtle way in which it energizes me. I also find it to be a terrific thirst quencher. I’ve gotten my whole family hooked on the simultaneously sweet and sour fizzy drink, too.
Store-bought kombucha is pretty pricey: I was spending a small fortune on it at the health food store until I started making my own. If you, too find yourself frequently emptying your wallet to purchase kombucha, you’ll be happy to know that DIY’ing it is a cinch: all you need to get a batch fermenting on your countertop is loose-leaf organic black tea, sugar, and a “SCOBY.” (What’s a SCOBY? It’s a Symbiotic Culture/Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast (aka a “kombucha mushroom”), and it resembles a spongy pancake).
During the fermentation period (which typically lasts a week, or a bit more), the yeasts and bacteria in the SCOBY convert the sugar and tea into beneficial substances (the aforementioned detoxifying acids).
Finished kombucha, therefore, doesn’t contain much caffeine or sugar. Green or herbal tea may be substituted for black tea (but I personally haven’t tried it with either one). Raw honey or molasses can be used instead of sugar, but your kombucha may take longer to ferment (and the flavor will be different). Though you’re welcome to experiment, most sources state that other sweeteners will not work well.
You’ll need a 1-gallon glass jar to make this recipe; I prefer to use a jar with a wide opening.
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