I never thought I’d write a post about kombucha. In fact, I’ve had a running list of things “I’ll never try”.
Five years ago, my ”never do” list looked like this:
1. I’ll never grind my own grain. (Bought a small mill 3 years ago, totally converted now)
2. I’ll never drink raw milk. (One taste and I was hooked.)
3. I’ll never make my own sauerkraut. (I do now, on a monthly basis)
4. I’ll never make homemade kombucha. (Well, you see the evidence of this)
5. I’ll never make my own sourdough bread – on a regular basis. (Still haven’t done this one)
6. I’ll never have my own chickens. (I’m seriously considering it)
Apparently, my definition of “never” can be fuzzy.
If you’ve never tried kombucha, you must. It’s a naturally effervescent, sweet fizzy tea (very sweet, in fact, I add a little water). It’s so sweet you feel like you shouldn’t be drinking it, like it’s not allowed. But it’s full of probiotics, live active enzymes, polyphenols (fights free radicals), glucuronic acid (a powerful detoxifier), and many other powerful nutrients.
A few months ago when the FDA pulled kombucha off of the shelves temporarily, I had to choose between going without or putting aside my pride and making my own. I ordered the culture and gave it a whirl.
Two weeks ago when my culture arrived in a little test tube I still wasn’t so sure I wanted to go through with this. I had a feeling that once I started I might not ever stop. I boiled the water, added the sugar, brewed the tea, added the culture, and then safely tucked the jar away in the pantry to ferment. Seven days later, my kids were giddy to find out what it looked like. To my amazement, the culture had grown into a huge mushroom-like substance perched above sweet, fizzy tea!
I’ve tried two different recipes for kombucha, each with their own attributes. If it’s your first time drinking kombucha then I’d try this recipe. If you’ve had it before and prefer a drink that’s not quite as sweet, use the recipe below. You can purchase a kombucha mushroom (aka culture or scoby) here. If kombucha resides on your “I’ll never make that” list, I recommend looking for Synergy Kombucha at your local health food store. They mix their teas with raw fruit juice for a fizzy, fruity flavor.
Here’s an informative video that shows how easy it is to make kombucha at home.
While I don’t use white sugar in my cooking or baking, the experts say it is essential for this recipe. The white sugar reacts with the tea and kombucha culture to produce acetic, lactic and glucuronic acid.
Recipe from Sally Fallon’s, Nourishing Traditions (used with permission)
Makes about 2 quarts
3 quarts filtered water
1 cup organic white sugar
4 organic black tea bags (I used Newman’s Own black tea bags)*
1/2 cup kombucha from a previous culture (go to your natural foods store for this)
1 kombucha mushroom or starter culture
Boil water in a large pot. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Steep tea bags until water has completely cooled. Remove tea bags and pour cooled liquid into a 4 quart or larger glass bowl (not plastic). Stir in 1/2 cup kombucha and place the mushroom on top. Cover loosely with a clean cloth or towel and transfer to a warm, dark place. Let mixture sit for 7-10 days. When the mixture is ready the mushroom will have grown a spongy pancake and the tea should be slightly sour and fizzy. Remove the mushroom and store in a glass container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use again. (After your first time making kombucha the mushroom will have grown a second spongy pancake. This can be used to make other batches or you can give one away to a friend.) Pour kombucha into a glass jar or pitcher with a tight fitting lid. Store in your refrigerator. Don’t forget to cross kombucha off your “I’ll never do that” list!
* Updated 8/7/12 – Recently I’ve been using 3 black tea bags and 2 green tea bags or fruit tea bags. Currently, my favorite fruit tea is summer peach and apricot tea. A friend of mine has been making her kombucha with mango tea bags and says it’s her favorite yet.
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