Have you tried Kombucha? It’s a fermented, sweetened tea full of probiotics, B-Vitamins, and various enzymes and amino acids that are believed to have outstanding health benefits. The tea has had a sharp rise in popularity in recent years and where before you could only purchase the drink at health food stores, now the tea can be found in everyday grocery stores and gas stations. It’s pricey stuff, coming in at around 3 dollars per bottle, but it’s also surprisingly easy to brew. An entire subculture devoted to Kombucha brewing has sprung up on the internet with people from around the world exchanging recipes, tips, and even “scobys.” Scobys are short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” Many people commonly refer to the scoby as the mother mushroom, but in fact, it’s not really a mushroom at all, but a microbial culture.
Find some live Kombucha. You can start a batch from a bottle of store bought kombucha or you can purchase a scoby from one of many websites online. The best way to get a batch going though is to get a friend to give you a scoby and a cup of their kombucha. You can also try craigslist or freecycle. There are lots of people out there willing to share their scobys for nothing more than the pleasure of knowing that someone else is also enjoying some of their kombucha. Just make sure you also get a cup of their last batch with it.
Gather your ingredients. You will need sugar, vinegar (or a cup of the original Kombucha), your Kombucha culture, and 4 to 8 tea bags of black tea.
Add the tea to water. Put a gallon of filtered tap water in a glass jug and leave it open and out overnight for the chlorine to evaporate. Then add the 4 to 8 tea bags.
Stir in the sugar. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir into the tea. This is what the Kombucha bacteria is going to live off of.
Stir in the Kombucha from the last batch or add the mother scoby.
Cover with a cloth and put a rubber band around the rim to secure the cloth. This will keep flies from getting into your brew.
Store for 1 week in a warm, dark place. A closet or cabinet is perfect. If after one week, you find a “mushroom” growing on top, you’ve got success! Remove the scoby and save it for your next batch. Transfer the brew to bottles that you can reseal to preserve the natural effervescence of the tea.
Be careful when dealing with microbial cultures. Kombucha brewing should only be attempted by individuals with healthy, robust immune systems. Always thoroughly clean all of your containers, countertop surfaces, and wash your hands before and after dealing with the live cultures. While there are many reports of the health benefits of Kombucha, there is also concern over the safety of the beverage. There have been some rare cases of death due to lactic acidosis from consumption of Kombucha. If you feel sick, short of breath, or experience a rapid heart beat, you should consult a physician immediately.