Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kombucha Who?

Looks can be deceiving!

I LOVE fermentation! I consider myself a scientist, and it's a very predictable and easy way for me to create my very own superfoods. It's extremely inexpensive, and provided you have the proper starting tools can continue to give through the life of the culture.

With the huge craze in Kombucha tea peaking just a few years back, and the high price of purchase, I decided to start brewing my own about a year ago. It's allowed me to save tons (it cost's me about 10 cents/bottle) and with the recent pull from the shelves, a way for me to continue with my very own stock.

So what is it? Many people call it a mushroom, but technically speaking, it's not. It's a culture of symbiotic yeast and bacteria that ferment in the presence of sugar to create a wonderfully refreshing and detoxifying beverage. Much like the well known cultured dairy products yogurt, kefir etc., kombucha is well known for is high 'good' bacteria content. Other benefits include enzymes, essential amino acids and a plethora of b vitamins. There have been MANY claims with this tea, including a cure-all for degenerative illness and cancer, but I would base it all on your own personal experience. I include it in my diet partially because of the amazing fizzy taste and flavor, and because it contains small levels of glucuronic acid (an organic acid produced in the liver to help detoxify the body).

How to brew your own? Easy- (instructions based on 1 gal. tea brew)
1- Find a 'mother'. They can be purchased online here...

Fill a stainless pot with 1/2 gallon water and bring to a boil

Add 1 cup organic sugar and allow it to dissolve. (you can try other sweetners such as rapadura, local raw honey etc. I have had the best luck with organic cane.)

Add 8-10 organic black tea bags, turn off heat, and let steep for 10 minutes. (you can experiment with other teas, leaves or roots, but there is a reason why all companies use black tea)

Allow mixture to cool to room temperature (mothers don't like temp. changes), and add this, the remaining water to fill one gallon and your mushroom to a 1.5 gallon glass jar, which I recommend. Plastic and stainless are no good for the cultures.

Place a cloth over the opening and secure with rubber band. Mushroom will eventually float to the surface and create another as the ferment happens. You can use this for other cultures or donate to a friend. It truly keeps on giving-

Allow at least 7 days to ferment before testing. Using a wooden spoon or by pouring, taste. I usually allow mine at least 15 days or so, to complete allow all the sugar to be eaten up and give more of a vinegar taste. Please be aware, the longer it sits, the more alcohol it accumulates Transfer to glass mason jars or specific brew bottles. At this point you can add fruit, herbs, roots etc. and place them on the counter for an additional 2-3 days. Once finished, you can store in the fridge and consume as needed. Recommendations are to drink 2-4 oz with a meal, or as tested by what works best for you.

Drink up!

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