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Kombucha: A Different Kind of Brew

I wanted to hate kombucha. I really did.
For one, the premise of kombucha sounds a little gross. I mean, c’mon — fermented tea? That hardly sounds appetizing. It also felt a little too crunchy granola hippie for my liking.
But I also heard kombucha was rich in probiotics, something I’ve been trying to increase in my diet after learning all the benefits of this “good gut bacteria.” So at the beginning of the year, I bought a few bottles of kombucha and embraced my hippie side for the sake of good digestion.

My kind of brew!

My kind of brew!

If you haven’t tried kombucha before, you should know the look and the taste don’t quite match up. Kombucha looks like juice, and if you’re expecting the taste of juice, you’ll probably be grossed out. Instead, kombucha tastes more like a sour fizzy soda. If you prefer vinegar over salad dressing and crave pickles at the end of a hard workout, you’ll love kombucha. For the rest of us, kombucha is an acquired taste.
After you adjust to the taste, though, something strange happens. You start to like kombucha. You feel good on kombucha. You even start to crave kombucha. And, if you’re like me, you begin to realize you’re spending way too much money on kombucha. At $4 a bottle, a kombucha habit can get pretty pricey.
Recently, a friend of mine suggested I make my own. The thought had never really occurred to me before, but it made complete sense — after all, I make my own coffee instead of going to Starbucks, and I use a Sodastream to avoid buying liters of club soda at the grocery store every week. Why not kombucha?
That said, I’ve borrowed my friend’s copy of Kombucha Revolution by Stephen Lee (co-founder of Tazo Tea and the master behind my favorite brand of kombucha, Wonder Drink), and plan to start my own batch this weekend. That’s right. I’ve gone full-on crunchy granola hippie.
In the last few days, I’ve ordered the makings of my own kombucha, including a SCOBY, an acronym for “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast” — without a SCOBY in the mix, the ingredients of kombucha (water, tea, and sugar) are nothing more than a sweet tea. The SCOBY transforms the sugars into the fizzy, fermented goodness of kombucha — similar to how yeast turns converts sugars to beer (see, this is how this relates to Cocktails Week!).
I’m surprised at how affordable the ingredients are! In all, it will cost me about fifty cents per serving of kombucha, which should save me a lot of money in the long run … that is, if I can brew something palatable. Only time (and my SCOBY) will tell.
I’m excited — and a little bit nervous — for this venture into kombucha brewing! Before I get started, is there anything I should know? Share your tips in the comments below! —Susan

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