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The Green Gourmet

The Kombucha Thread With Troubleshooting

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The Kombucha Thread With Troubleshooting

Postby Nayla Caruso » Thu Oct 04, 2007 2:28 pm

Chapter One: In Which I Describe Kombucha
Kombucha, traced to Central Asia, is a fermented tea beverage fashionable among the health food set. It was once believed to contain the secret of eternal life, and it might not have been far off! Properly made it's chockfull of probiotics and antioxidants. Flavanoids and tanins produced by the fermentation process, along with a mild spike of alcohol, do wonders for the heart. Kombucha is uniquely suited for refreshing a person after thorough physical labor.

But what is it?

The secret to kombucha is it's "mushroom," a symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast (or SCOBY), held together by proteins they've produced, that is large enough to be visible to the naked eye. Or to take up a whole shelf of your fridge if you're not careful! These bacteria and yeast digest sugars added to your tea to produce fermentation and otherwise alter the content.

If treated well, they'll produce a safe, healthy drink that happens to be delicious and they'll reproduce a whole additional SCOBY each batch for your to try new recipes with or give away. Abused and they'll die, or worse, they'll mold over and create a poison that will shut down your liver. Granted, you have to be willfully ignorant to drink moldy kombucha, but I thought scaring you a little would be motivational.

Anyway, like any living thing, kombucha needs a) oxygen, b) a reasonable range of temperature, c) food, d) a reasonable range of pH, and d) space, but that last one really shouldn't be a problem unless you're me.

Lastly, if you're going to brew kombucha with me, you need to dismiss your inner snob at once. Kombucha doesn't care what medium it's brewed in whether it's a mythical Tibetan Pue-ehr tea or kool-aid. We do. A mushroom brewed in jasmine tea for generations then brewed in black tea will impart some jasmine flavors, but it's not harmed. SCOBYs aren't all the same composition of bacterias and yeasts, they adapt if their environment changes, so there really is no one right way. Second, kombucha purists sometimes swear you can't brew kombucha with any sugar but white. Nonsense. White's probably the worst because it's so refined it contributes little more than calories. Anyone who persists in claiming kombucha needs white sugar to survive is hereby assigned vivisection duty for my mammoth honey raised mushroom.

Tune in next time for a basic "classic" method tutorial!
Interested in urban homesteading, home cheesemaking, minimalist brewing, fermented and traditional foods, sprouting, and more? Join the Multi-Culture Club on the GSC forums!
Nayla Caruso
 
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Postby John Leary » Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:02 pm

Didn't know scoby was an acronym! Great intro!
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John Leary
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