For the past few months I've been brewing my own Kombucha Tea. Kombucha is a fermented, sugary tea which many believe to have health benefits. The sugar is digested by a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), that weird spongey thing floating in the jars below. The scoby is actually edible, but I've never taken a bite! I've read that the pro-biotics in kombucha are good for digestion and gut health, and when I drink it, I feel a tingly, enjoyable sensation that is hard to describe. It feels good to drink! However, I have some reservations. In an article that Paul Stamets wrote called The Manchurian Mushroom, My Adventures with "The Blob", he warns that Kombucha hasn't had in-depth studies to show it's positive or negative health effects. It contains usnic acid, which has anti-biotic effects. Stamets warns that frequent consumption of Kombucha could have similar effects as over-use of anti-biotics. Namely, killing off beneficial bacteria in the body, and naturally selecting the harmful bacteria that can tolerate the unnatural conditions and become especially adapted and difficult to treat. For those reasons, I cut back my consumption to about 1 cup per day at most, which is the maximum that Stamets recommends to drink. Stamets also warns that the sugary environment necessary for brewing Kombucha invites other, potentially harmful bacteria to grow. All Kombucha brewing information that I've found stress the importance of inspecting the SCOBY regularly for signs of infection.
I've heard that the history of Kombucha is a mysterious one. It's said that Kombucha was discovered in Asian monastaries in the mountains. Apparantly monks would brew Kombucha, and had passed down the culture of bacteria and yeast from brewer to brewer. Whatever the history, it's an intersting drink, and a fun experiment!
The kombucha ferments in a jar for 7-10 days.
After the initial fermentationn, it is bottled, and then fermented again at room temperature for 2-3 days. During this secondary fermentation, fruit and herbs can be added to infuse flavors into the brew. After 2-3 days, it goes in the fridge and is ready to drink!
Here's a How To guide to brewing Kombucha at home. And if anyone wants to try this out, let me know. I have extra SCOBYs that you can start with!