Thursday, March 13, 2014

Kombucha Harvest

From an unassuming cardboard box in a dark corner of the kitchen comes a wonderful refreshing tonic: kombucha. This fermented beverage is made by feeding sweetened black tea to a cultured Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, aka SCOBY.  This living mat is composed of a variety of hundreds of beneficial bacteria and yeast; together they synthesizes caffeine and sugar into a nutritious probiotic beverage.

We harvest about two gallons every three weeks. Kombucha is now a very popular health drink, but some say drinking to much might throw off the natural balance of bacteria in our body. Traditionally it is taken as a health tonic in China, not slammed down like a sports drink. It should be sipped at room temperature in a one-cup serving. I used to flavor batches with cranberry and ginger, but I decided plain is the best flavor... tart with a slight hint of sweetness.

These SCOBYs are eight generations awway from when I first received the mother from my friend Mike Riley. They seemed to go dormant for about a month, but after moving the jars to another location in the kitchen, they nearly doubled in size in a month’s time. Some folks think it’s the ugliest thing on the planet—rubbery, flesh colored with tendrils. I find it purely fascinating. Well... bottoms up, and raise your glass to health. It’s harvest time.

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