Kombucha: Like beer but good for you

Lord bless this, our booch

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The first time I picked up a bottle of kombucha in the health food store, I think I called it ‘kombucka’ and shook it…which I realize now is a horrendous thing to do since kombucha is naturally carbonated.

I shook it because there was a centimeter of stuff floating on the bottom of the glass bottle. I held it up to the fluorescent store lights and asked my friend (more knowledgeable in health food than I) “What kind of hippie pond water slime is this?”

And now I’m brewing two gallons of that hippie pond water slime a month. So there.

Kombucha. What is it?
The booch originally comes from China. It is organic tea mixed with sugar and a yeast culture (called a SCOBY), and then allowed to ferment until the sugar is pretty much gone. It’s like the process beer goes through, only with tea and very few calories. There is usually an alcohol content of 3%. Once its brewed, it is bottled with fresh fruit or unsweetened juices and you drink it cold.

Booch supports immunity and is rich in probiotics, keeping healthy bacteria in your gut very happy. It’s also high in something called glucuronic acid. This acid occurs naturally in your liver, and neutralizes toxins. The bummer is our livers are dragging from excess pollutants and toxins in our homes, environment, and food. Sometimes it can’t keep up with the demand, so booch is an easy, refreshing way to get that cleansing acid back in your system.

What does it taste like?
Fruity, fizzy beer, a little sweet (not much) with a slight taste of apple cider vinegar. Booch tastes like whatever you flavor it with – berries, ginger, pineapple or guava juice, etc. It does not taste slimy, and you’re not going to get hit in the kisser with sludge floating at the bottom of the bottle. I swear, you won’t. There will be a lot of bubbles, though.

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How do we start?
With a clean surface. When I make a batch, I immediately start boiling pots of water. It’s important to have a sterile brewing works space, but you can’t use bleach or harsh chemicals because you’ll kill the SCOBY. I pour boiling water in the sink, the 1-gallon glass containers I’ll use to store and brew the booch, and over a few bowls and large spoons so I have clean utensils. Then I wipe down the counters with Thieves cleaner from YoungLiving because it won’t harm the SCOBY.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon of distilled water
  • 7-10 organic oolong or black tea bags with paper tags removed. It has to be organic because non-organic tea has added oil which will kill the entire batch.
  • 1 cup organic raw cane sugar. Again, it has to be organic because the bleaches used in regular sugar will kill the SCOBY.
  • 2 tbs. White distilled vinegar
  • 1 SCOBY (I used these guys and my healthy SCOBY has since sired many other SCOBYs. That’s right – SCOBYs reproduce and you can have multiple batches from the same culture.
  • Fruit or unsweetened juice: I love to use freshly washed berries, rinsed wolfberries, and acai berry pulp
  1. Boil the gallon of water in a big pot and add the tea bags. Let it steep for five minutes and remove the tea bags. Remove tea from heat and allow to cool.
  2. When the tea is cool, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour the tea into your sterilized 1-gallon glass container. Add apple cider vinegar and SCOBY. Try not to touch the SCOBY – they are a little fragile and you don’t want to contaminate it.
  3. Once all the kids are in the bath (glass container) cover with a dishcloth to keep dust and bugs out. Set the container in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Wait 7-30 days. The longer you wait, the more your booch will have a vinegar-y taste.
  4. When you are ready to bottle, you will need swing top glass bottles (like this). Pour boiling water into the bottles to sterilize them and let cool. Using a spoon, gently remove the SCOBY and place in a sterilized bowl with a little of the booch to keep it from drying out. You’ll use the culture in your next batch, so keep it in booch and covered.
  5. Using a funnel, pour the booch into the glass jars, leaving about 1/4 of the bottle empty. Add sliced fruit, unsweetened juices or fruit purees. The larger the fruit chunks in the bottle, the more bubbles you will have. Leave some empty space in the neck of the bottle.
  6. Let the booch sit for a day or two. At the end of the second day, hold the bottle in a sink and let a little of the air out by releasing the cap. If you have a lot of bubbles and want to slow the process down, put the bottle in the fridge. By day three, you should have crazy good bubbles.

Other variations:

  • Blueberries with pomegranate juice and a freshly squeezed lime
  • Cranberry juice with fresh ginger
  • Pineapple and guava juice with fresh mango

Drink up, friends!

Samantha Bossalini