My kitchen just doesn’t feel homey unless I have several edible ‘experiements’ brewing and bubbling on the countertop.
Currently I’m making sloe gin and chocolate liqueur for Christmas gifts (oops, sorry everyone, you know what you’ll be getting this year…), as well as some echinachea tincture for winter colds. But these are all infused alcohols, so they’re quick to prepare and not much of a culinary challenge. Speaking of infused alcohols – have you made any of these projects yet? Really, they are So Easy, and your friends will be impressed!
Projects get more interesting when live bacteria and yeast join the fun. You might remember making sourdough bread or super veg. These super traditional projects require catching friendly bacteria or yeast from the air and getting them to do the hard work for you!
This project is in the more advanced category. Although it’s really easy to make, it might frighten small children when left on the counter. (Actually, small children will probably think it’s really cool – it’s the other adults you might frighten away!).
Kombucha is one of those specialty drinks you find in health food stores and yoga studios. It’s based on black tea which is fermented so it becomes fizzy and tart. It’s really tasty, and some people think it does amazing things for detoxifying the body and improving your digestive system (think: inexpensive, drinkable probiotics.)
But what hooked me was the fact that you need a floating colony of bacteria to start the process (known as a mother, a mushroom or a SCOBY) … it looked so weird I just had to try it myself!
A colony of what?
Kombucha is made by yeast and bacteria consuming sugar and fermenting tea into a delicious, fizzy drink. To get started, you have to get a colony of the right kind of bacteria and yeasts. This colony is called either a ‘mother’, a ‘mushroom’ or a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria & yeast!). It’s like a science experiment in a jar … that actually tastes good!
What does a kombucha mother / mushroom / SCOBY look like?
Kind of like a round piece of chicken, with brown strings hanging off the bottom. Yeah, it’s not nice. If you really want to see, there are some pictures here.
Where do I get a kombucha mother / mushroom / SCOBY?
The best place to get one is from a friend! After every couple of batches of kombucha, you’ll see a new mother growing on the top of the jar. So you can just give it to a friend to start their own batch (what a gift!)
I bought my kombucha mother over the internet in a starter kit. Just google for “buy kombucha mushroom” and lots of results will come up.
How does kombucha taste?
It tastes slightly like tea, but also slightly sweet and tart. It’s really refreshing, especially in hot weather.
Lots of people also mix it with some fruit cordial or fruit syrup to make flavored kombucha. (Always add the flavorings to the finished kombucha – never while it’s brewing, as you don’t want to interfere with the bacteria.)
How do I make kombucha?
The process of making kombucha is easy.
Brew some regular black tea. Sweeten with white sugar and let it cool to room temperature. (Don’t worry, the bacteria eat the sugar so the end product isn’t very sweet.)
Add the kombucha ‘mother’ and some kombucha from a previous batch to get it started.
Let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 days, until it tastes good to you (the longer you let it sit, the less sweet it will taste.)
Remove ‘mother’ and some kombucha (for your next batch!) Pour kombucha into bottles and refrigerate.
What health foods are you curious about? What product would you love an inexpensive, natural alternative for? Let me know and I might feature it on the blog!
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