The beginner’s guide to Kombucha
The facts about this popular fermented drink
Kombucha has created quite a buzz in recent years, along with other fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. Kombucha can now be found on supermarket shelves, as well as in local health food stores and delicatessens, but what exactly is it and why is it supposed to be so
good for your health?
Put simply, kombucha is a fermented drink, whose main ingredients are tea, sugar and probiotic culture. What makes it so special is the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) which floats like an alien jellyfish on top of the tea and creates a wonderful fermented drink with a unique mixture of healthy bacteria, amino acids and enzymes. It may not be pretty at the brewing stage, but hopefully we’ve all evolved to a point now
where we do not place value on looks alone!
It has a taste unlike anything else, at first unexpectedly effervescent and tangy, but with layers of flavour depending on which fresh natural ingredients have been added. It may be an acquired taste, but it’s certainly moreish and it gives one a gentle lift and a pleasant sense of well-being.
This could be the result of a combination of the caffeine and probiotic content… add to that the gratifying idea that it’s tasty and good for you and you’re onto a winner.
The origins of kombucha are shrouded in mystery and hearsay, but it’s safe to say that at least 2,000 years ago a fermented tea drink was being used in China as an “elixir of health”. Its use gradually spread across Russia and into Europe, and by the 1960s kombucha was being referred to asabeneficial probiotic by Swiss researchers.
Now its popularity is exploding, along with an understanding of the integral connection that the gut has to so many different areas of health.
In America and Australia, where the kombucha market is about 10 years ahead of the UK, it’s common to find kombucha on tap, as you would beer or cider in a British pub. Kombucha bars are already popping up around London, serving the growing demand for healthy alcohol free drinks.
One of the great things about this wonder drink is that a mother SCOBY, if looked after correctly, will keep on producing ‘babies’ in the form of a new layer of matter on the top of the SCOBY. This layer can be peeled off and given to a friend to start their own home brew.
The idea of this giving, abundant mother is charming and a reminder of the generosity prevalent in the natural world.
Brewing your own kombucha at home takes patience and practice, but once mastered is also a simple and satisfying procedure. To purchase a starter kit, check out oichiferments.co.uk. If home brewing seems like too much of a commitment, then look out for some of the delicious local kombucha drinks that are becoming more readily available around Norfolk and Suffolk.
With thanks to local kombucha experts Shifa and Thorayya from @oichi_kombucha