Drink Up: What is Kombucha?

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One of the books mentioned in the Healthy Holiday Gift Guide: Five Books to Buy is The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. While this book delves into many different fermentation practices and foods, a simple one to try at home is brewing your own kombucha.

Kombucha with culture (Photo Credit: taste-lab/Flickr)

Kombucha is a tea-based beverage that is a made by combining brewed black or green tea with sugar and a kombucha culture known as a scoby. The scoby is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast and is necessary to make the fermented drink. This culture is what creates the final product of kombucha tea after it has “brewed” by eating all of the sugar.

Kombucha can be incorporated into any diet.  It contains antioxidants and compounds that block the action of free radicals, and may help detoxify the body and enhance the immune system. It is also said to help cure a wide range of conditions including insomnia, intestinal disorders, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis and cancer.

How to make kombucha tea:

  • Heat 3 quarts of water and add 1 cup of sugar as it comes to a boil.
  • Boil for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from stove and add 5 tea bags (green or black).
  • Cover and steep for 15 minutes.
  • Remove tea bags and cool to room temperature.
  • Pour tea solution into brewing container.  You will  need a large container.
  • Place kombucha scoby into the liquid.
  • Cover with cheesecloth and secure with string.

Brewing time can take anywhere from 5-12 days.

If you already know someone who brews kombucha, ask for a scoby.  Most will have an extra on hand as scobies tend to multiple after many batches of kombucha have been brewed.  If you are starting off alone, here is a link to growing your own kombucha scoby which is cheaper than purchasing one online.

Happy brewing!