Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kombucha...It's What's Brewing on the Farm

I'm a home brewer.  Not a home brewer of the traditional home brew type, much to the Big Guy's dismay.  But a home brewer all the same.  We're brewing kombucha here on the Farm.

Komb-whatcha, you ask?  Kombucha.  Here's the dictionary definition:

n. A lightly sparkling beverage made by fermenting black or green tea and sugar with a culture of various bacteria and yeasts.

I first read about kombucha in a catalog from the Bulk Herb Store.  For some reason, I found it intriguing.  It sounded like an interesting experiment - taking two regular everyday things like tea and sugar, combine them with some mysterious bacteria and yeasts and get something new, supposedly yummy and maybe even good for us.  Hmmmmm...

Kombucha popped up in my other readings online and in Nourishing Traditions.  It seems lots of folks find the drink helps with any number of ailments from skin problems like acne to cancer.  I was mostly interested in kombucha's probiotic qualities and the claims that it helps give some increased energy (for some reason a bit more energy is always something I'm looking for).

I was game to give kombucha a try, but there was a catch.  You can't just brew some tea, add some sugar, throw in some yeast and, viola, get some kombucha.  You've got to have special bacteria and yeast; you've got to have a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) or mother or mushroom as they're also called.  To be honest, I'm not all sure what magical bacteria in a SCOBY, I'm just trusting the system on this one.  So when I "overheard" a conversation between friends on facebook regarding SCOBYs, I butted in.  Isn't facebook great?  It's the one place in the world where it's not impolite to interrupt a conversation.

One of the said friends graciously agreed to share one of her SCOBYs with me.  Every time a batch of kombucha is brewed, a new SCOBY or "baby" is produced.  Isn't that amazing?  Thankfully, this friend has a great blog, Common Sense Homesteading, which had all the directions I needed to get my home brewing experiment going.  She also has helpful explanations about the science of what's happening during the whole process.  If you are interested is how to make kombucha and see some great photos, go here.  She's said it much better than I ever could and, besides, my camera is broken so I've got no photos.

I gathered my materials and off we went a brewing.  Ten days later, we drank our first kombucha and it was pretty good.  The kids aren't big fans, but the Big Guy and I have been drinking some everyday since.

Currently, our fourth batch of kombucha is sitting on our kitchen counter.  Let me say that the mother and baby (the old SCOBY and the newly forming SCOBY) are not the most attractive things to have sitting on your counter.  Think tannish-slimy-pancakey-placenta-like looking thing floating around in a big pot of tea and you'll get a pretty accurate picture.  I could put them up in the cupboard, but I think it's rather fun to watch the fermenting take place.  Besides, it's certainly a conversation starter and most folks don't think we're freaky enough yet. So, it's helpful on the counter.

We drank our first batch straight, no flavoring.  I tried adding a bit of fresh ginger to brew number two (yes, I have read a lot of Seuss over the years).  It was good, but I think I went a bit overboard on it because it was pretty spicy.  Batch three was again plain and was the most bubbly so far.  Very yummy.  The Big Guy has requested I try the ginger again with a bit lighter hand.  So, the plan for what's currently brewing on my counter is to flavor some with ginger and the rest with some frozen blueberries.

Have we noticed any big miraculous changes in our health over the past weeks?  Well, as a matter of fact I have.  Check out this photo the Big Guy took of me last weekend:

How amazing is that?    Seriously, neither of us have noticed any dramatic differences, but I'm not willing to say that it hasn't been helpful either.  Right about the time we started drinking off our first brew, I was told I had severe anemia and started taking iron supplements.  One of the side effects which come with such supplements is, um, how to put this...internal stoppages.  Without telling you more that you really want to know, let's just say such stoppages haven't been a problem.  I'm chalking it up to the kombucha along with my gorgeous new blond hair and amazingly straight white teeth.


  1. Wendy, you looook Maaaaaahvalous!
    You're so funny!

  2. All hail the glorious microbes!!!