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kombucha [kawm-boo-chah, kuh m-boo-chuh]

Definition: Kombucha is any of a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks that are commonly intended as functional beverages for their supposed health benefits. Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea using a "symbiotic 'colony' of bacteria and yeast" (SCOBY). Wikipedia.

Until a few years ago I had never heard of kombucha. What the heck is that? Sounds like kimchi, which is a Korean spicy fermented cabbage – which is not on the top of my list of tasty items (but nonetheless is great for digestion!).

In an effort to improve my digestion due to multiple auto-immune issues I(and is great for digestion health period!), I was taking probiotics, which aid in helping the body absorb more nutrients and balances out the guts flora in order to help the body rid itself of toxins and provides better health in general. Probiotic capsules were one of the copious amount of supplements I was taking and I was looking for ways to reduce all the pesky pills and capsules I was downing every day. Roll in kombucha! Kombucha typically has more healthful bacteria per gram than supplements. It tastes good and provides a lot of additional benefits – score!

Kombucha plays a role in hair health, detoxifying the liver, eczema and skin health, helps with a hangover (what?!), boosts energy, aids immune system, eases constipation, and helps with stress by producing Theanine which helps the body produce more serotonin. Sounds like a win win, and a whole heck of a lot CHEAPER!

Now the question is how to do this. Well, I started with store bought kombucha. Yummy, tasty, lots of flavors and already made for me. Um….about $3 per bottle or more. I was drinking half a bottle per day. It was getting to be an expense rivaling the supplements I bought. Time to shift gears.

After doing research I read about people making their own kombucha. How do I do that? You need to have a scoby. A what? Not the the dog that hangs with Shaggy, but a scoby: symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.

OK. How do I find one of those? You can buy kits like these, buy a scoby here, or you can find someone with a scoby to share. Trust me once you start, they multiply and you always have some to give away. I put a notice on Facebook and someone had one to share. Yay!

So here is how it works once you have a scoby. First listen to all the "Gross!", "Disgusting" and "Nasty" comments that will come from your family. The process is really not as difficult as it seems. It takes just minutes.

You need to boil about 1 gallon water.

When that comes to a boil, stir in 1 scant cup organic sugar until it dissolves and then place 4 organic black tea bags in the water.

Tea bags

Once this cools to room temperature, you are ready to add the scoby! You will need a large jar of sorts to ferment the kombucha. I picked up a nice one at Target. I usually ferment mine from 2-3 weeks. The longer it ferments, the tangier it will be. Add the scoby to the jar and then fill up with the tea you’ve created.

Then cover with a dish towel (use an older one as they will get stained) and then secure towel to top of jar – I use a large rubber band. Do not put the lid on the jar! The kombucha needs to breathe.

When the fermenting phase is over you can take the scoby out and store it with enough of the tea to cover the scoby, This scoby needs to be kept in the refrigerator.

Then the tea is ready to drink and can be bottled. ORRRRRRRR if you are like me and want some flavor, now is the time! My favorite is raspberry ginger. I typically take some thawed (previously frozen) raspberries, about 1 cup and moosh with some minced ginger, about 1 tblsp. I then divide it between bottles (I got these at IKEA). After the division takes place, its time to load up the kombucha so the bacteria can feed on the sugar in the fruit and make the tea fizzier and sweeter with the flavors of the fruit.

This should then sit 3-4 days- keep an eye on it to make sure it’s not fermenting too much. Once done fermenting, drain the kombucha from the fruit.

Throw out the fruit and bottle it back up and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

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