SO last week I posted about Chia seeds. And my recipe had kombucha in it. That was silly; I have not heard of a lot of people who have or make kombucha regularly. It is getting pretty popular, though. I see it in grocery stores, especially organic-focused ones. Nonetheless, it is a delicious alternative to soda that is full of glucagonic acid (a metal chelator) and natural probiotics.
Kombucha is tea that has been fermented with a special culture. The culture is called a "mother mushroom" and is a symbiotic relationship between a yeast and a bacteria. It looks like a jellyfish. It must be a magical jellyfish, since it takes plain old sweet tea (which is pretty low on the healthy scale) and turns it into a refreshing carbonated, probiotic beverage.
The culture has been passed around throughout the ages, and many different peoples have other names for it. It is found throughout Europe and Asia and goes by the names of tesschwamm, tea fungus, kombucha, wunderpiz, hongo, cajnij, and teekvass. The trick to actually making it yourself is obtaining a culture. There are a few ways to do this. You can buy one online (just do a search), but this is probably the most expensive option. There is a site on Facebook where you can share these cultures. Every time you make a batch, you have another mushroom, so after you get one, you don't know what to do with the rest! Also, if you have a grocery store that carries the raw drink, you can pour the bottle in a bowl and leave it at room temperature for a week. A mushroom will form there and you can use it and the starter tea under it to make your kombucha.
You can use this beverage as a drink and in marinades, salad dressings, and as a substitute for vinegar. Its taste varies depending on how long you ferment it. There is also a double-fermentation that makes it very sour and possibly generates alcohol... But obviously less than .5% still.
Here's the recipe:
1.5 cups WHITE sugar (weird, I know.)
10 cups water
10 Organic Tea bags (non-organic tea gives the possibility of a high fluoride content)
2 T blackstrap molasses (optional)
1 Kombucha mother mushroom
1 cup starter kombucha brew
1. Boil the water and add the sugar and optional molasses. Continue boiling 5 minutes.
2. add the tea bags and let steep for 4 or more hours, or especially until it cools.
3. Pour the tea into a glass container (a half-gallon mason jar, for example) and pour the mushroom and starter tea into the container.
4. Cover loosely and leave for about a week, up to 2 weeks. You want air to be able to escape your container but dust and bugs not able to get in.
5. Wash your hands and remove all jewelry. Metal kills the organisms. Take the mushroom out and place in a container along with 1 cup of your new tea. This will be your starter tea for next time.
6. If your starter mushroom and new mushroom are separate, you can store them in different containers with their own cup of starter tea and make a double batch next time.
To do a second brew (which is much more vinegary and dryer and is for more experienced Kombucha enjoyers)
After step 6, leave the tea undisturbed for an additional week. Remove the second mushroom and enjoy!
You can add your favorite juice to flavor before brewing. Have fun with it!