Have you heard about this new health drink that’s invading grocery store shelves and even has its own section at Whole Foods? The drink first became popular in this country in the early 1990s, fueled by the AIDS epidemic and the many perceived health benefits of kombucha. In recent years, its resurgence in the market is due, in large part, to the founder of the company GT’s Kombucha, G.T. Dave. He claims that drinking kombucha and being vegetarian contributed to his mother’s aggressive breast cancer diagnosis becoming dormant. When Whole Foods began to stock GT’s on their shelves, the kombucha craze exploded (pun intended).
So, what is kombucha?
The actual origins of kombucha are not known, but there are a few theories about where it may have originated. One of the stories is that it came about during the Qin Dynasty (220 BC) for China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi. The Chinese are notorious for their relentless quest for longevity elixirs and frequently look to nature for cures of all types of ailments. “Cha” 茶 from kombuCHA means tea in Chinese.
Homemade kombucha was very popular in China during the Cultural Revolution. My parents told me that it was very common when they were younger, and everyone made their own at home. According to my dad, the drink disappeared after a rumor spread that it was bad for your health.
From Asia, kombucha traveled along the Silk Road to Russia and then the rest of Europe. The first verified documentation of kombucha was in Ukraine and Russia in the late 1800s.
Simple Kombucha Recipe
Second fermentation is when you can add unique flavors to your kombucha, as well as increase the carbonation level. You can experiment with different combinations to find the one you like best.
Ingredients to try:
- Fruit (fresh, juice, dried, or frozen) – berries, apples, oranges, pomegranates, peaches, grapes, mango, pineapple, dates, figs
- Herbs & Spices – ginger, mint, basil, lavender, rosemary, cinnamon, nutmeg
Tips & Tricks
If you are thinking about brewing your own kombucha, here are some tips for beginners:
- If you want to start brewing, you do not have to buy a scoby (although they are fairly inexpensive). Follow the directions above with store bought unflavored kombucha as the starter fluid and no scoby. A scoby should form after 2-4 weeks.
- When handling the scoby, always use clean hands and containers. DO NOT use antibacterial soap.
- If you suspect mold growth (fuzzy, discolored, dry), throw away the scoby and start over.
- To prevent the kombucha from exploding and breaking glass, burp it once a day once 2nd fermentation begins.
- When opening the swing top bottles, hold the top down firmly when opening the latch. Release the pressure from the top very slowly and watch the carbonation level. If the carbonation is too strong, the top may blow off and you will lose half your liquid in your kitchen or on the ceiling.
- If the bubbles don’t subside and you aren’t able to open the bottle without it spilling over, close the bottle and put it in the fridge. It will be safe to open after a few hours.
Have I convinced you to brew your own kombucha yet?