Photography by Christoph Walters
“I grew the most AMAZING scoby!” My co-worker made this announcement a while back while cleaning out an enormous olive jar in which she was going to craft her next batch of Kombucha (pronounced kom-boo-CHa). Relatively new to this healthy fermented tea beverage, I had no idea what the woman meant by “SCOBY” (pronounced skoh-bee). “ Oh yeah!”she said. “I have about ten or eleven staggered batches going at a time. I drink 12 ounces first thing in the morning after my warm lemon water.” This coming from a woman who easily looks ten years younger than she is, and who dabbles in holistic nutrition as functional medicine on the regular.
At this point, I had sampled my fair share of store bought kombucha and had even acquired a taste for its acerbic effervescence. So I was delighted to learn that a scoby is actually an acronym: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, which is precisely what grows in the collection of layers on the surface of your fermenting tea. The scoby is the living home for the bacteria and yeast that give kombucha its tang and fizz.
So what is kombucha? The fermented sweet tea beverage has been used for years by Asian Cultures originating in China over 2000 years ago, and has even earned the nickname “Immortal Health Elixir”. Drinking kombucha has a bevy of health benefits, starting in your gut and by extension the rest of your body.
The tea fermentation process involves cultivating healthy bacteria called probiotics. These bacteria then line your digestive tract and optimize your immune system by facilitating nutrient absorption and battling infection. Fun fact! Eighty percent of your immune system is located in your guts which is why it is important to avoid excessive use of over the counter antacids.
Not to mention that 90 percent of your feel good hormone serotonin is created in your intestines, which is why you tend to rebound from depression or periods of stress a lot faster when you stay the path and eat wisely.
Post fermentation, the kombucha solution becomes carbonated and contains bacteria known as “cellulose-producing bacteria.” Cellulose is a shield for cells and helps them to function optimally.
Like me, I am sure you have now cultivated some curiosity about Kombucha. I’ve included my friend’s recipe, which came with that awesome scoby mentioned earlier,and a cup of “starter fluid” from her own batch.
4 tea bags either black or green preferred ( though I had great results with Ginger Tea)
½ cup sugar
6 cups H20
Boil the water with the tea bags and let steep a minimum of five minutes.
Add your sugar and stir until dissolved with a plastic or wooden spoon- not metal.
Let the sweet tea cool to room temp and pour into 1 gallon jar. With sanitized hands free of lotion and soap add the starter fluid and your scoby to the sweet tea. Cover mouth of the jar with a coffee filter and a secure with a rubber band. Let the jar sit out of direct sunlight for ten days to two weeks. Remove the scoby and a cup of the fermented tea for your next batch and seal them in a container at room temp until ready to brew. Transfer your kombucha to a glass container and refrigerate. Enjoy frequently.