Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kombucha - shock value or health value?

The funny thing about having our own garden is that when my family makes our weekly visit to the farmer's market, we skip most of the vegetables and seek out the same things: peach lemonade, lemon drop cookies, and the fresh-from-the-grill sausages one of the Amish families cooks up (dressed how the matron enjoys it - with her own homemade ketchup, a generous helping of horseradish, on her daughter's delicious fresh baked rolls).

I shopped solo on this day and quite honestly, what compelled me to buy the kombucha mushroom was the loooooooong 10 minute wait for my sausages. After taking repeated peeks at the little jars in the cooler, I saw a thing that almost made me laugh out loud at the reaction I suspected I would receive from my family. I had to bring it home.

Definitely for the shock value.

Here's the Amish family recipe for Kombucha:
  • Boil a gallon of water, then add 4 regular sized black tea bags to steep for 30 minutes.
  • Add a cup of sugar, then allow to cool completely to room temperature.
  • Pour the sweetened tea in a glass jar and float the kombucha mushroom on top.
  • Fill about 10% of the jar with a starter tea or 1/4 cup vinegar - this helps with the prevention of contaminants (actually, this step was not indicated on the recipe sheet, but I added it based on what I read on the Internet).
  • Cover the jar with a tea towel and rubber band towel in place.
  • Place in a dark spot for 7-14 days.
  • Enjoy over ice!
When I read about Kombucha described with the acronym SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), I remembered that Julie posted about it fairly recently. The culture (there's something about the word culture...) floating in the jar in the first photo is actually a folded up pancake shaped kombucha mushroom - also known as a mother and scientifically classified as a zoogleal mat. But that's not all...after creating the fermented tea that you enjoy over ice, the mother makes daughters that you can separate to make more tea or give to your friends! The Amish woman told me that once she took out the mushroom and set it on the counter because she didn't want her tea too strong and later, she found that it had created a baby. Awesome!

But despite the shock value, turns out there are quite a number of health values (of course, no claims have been scientifically proven). Kombucha tea:
  • detoxifies the liver and energeizes the mind
  • aids cancer recovery
  • increases energy
  • sharpens eyesight
  • improves skin's elasticity
  • aids joint recovery
  • aids digestion

Well, who knows what the true health values are. Some studies show nothing, some studies show benefits. In about 10 days, we'll see if the Kombucha tea is the panecea that many think it is. All I can confirm for now is that it's a fun project that is sure worth the shock value at least!


  1. For waht it's worth, the shock value extended far beyond your family. I am sitting here making all kinds of faces as I read this! Do you ever look at something and wonder how hungry/thirsty/desperate the person was who discovered that it was edible? I mean, how do you come up with something like that otherwise??

  2. Hi Wendy..fabulous post! we have been enjoying kombucha tea for many many years! My Nonno always drank it in Italy ..he began the culture and then..years later passed it on to my family in Canada...so it has been alive for a looooong time..many kombucha babies and years later ha ha!! it is part of daily ritual and tea ceremony! enjoy your new adventure! May you have mnay kombucha babies and wonderful health always!

  3. Shock value here too! Especially after reading Kiki aka Victorias comment! Note to self--RUNNNNN! I despise mushrooms... unless hidden :)

  4. Hi Wendy! We're still making our kombucha. The girls especially love it, and would rather have plain kombucha than any sort of juice. Since we don't drink soda, and kombucha is "fizzy", they think it's as good as soda or better.
    So glad to hear you're trying it! It's definitely good for shock value, but once you get used to drinking it, I imagine you'll really start to love it. Congrats on the adoption of you scoby!

  5. Oh wow, you are so brave! What does it taste like?

  6. Meems - it tastes like sweet tea, only fizzy. If you're not sure about growing your own, try picking up a bottle from a health food store to try it. (It doesn't come with the mushroom, so it doesn't look so creepy!) I prefer mine with a splash of some sort of fruit juice, but I really don't care for sweet tea, either.

    1. I let mine ferment for an entire month. I have about eight big jars fermenting at any one time. Mine tastes like apple cider vinegar by the time I drink it. Delicious.

  7. I never heard about this before.
    But really, I really don't think I have the guts to try this one.

  8. After reading this, I am keen to try out Kombucha. Read about it in the newspaper but didn't think it would look like that. As some commented that it tastes fizzy, I assume it's not difficult to consume, right? I am more of a coffee person so not certain if I will enjoy it. But the benefits do convince me that it's worthwhile trying it out.

  9. Yes, please tell us what it tastes like! So weird-looking. But also cool!

  10. You weren't a kiddin' about the shock value. Ewww! But fun. Let us know how it tastes and whether or not you've found the fountain of youth. :)

  11. Well, I haven't tried my own yet - got a few more days of fermentation to go ha ha! The Amish woman's kombucha tasted to me like a cross between sweetened black tea with a splash of cider vinegar - the fizziness that Julie described.


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