Kombucha is a sour, fizzy drink. Imagine a cranberry soda.
Here's how you make it:
- Beg, nag, and spam for a starter. They're a bit hard to come by.
- boil water (1qt)
- steep a few tea bags to make very strong tea (2 bags)
- add sugar (1/4c)
- cool to body temperature
- add kombucha "mushroom"
- add kombucha from a previous batch (1/2c)
- wait a week
The "mushroom" is an odd structure that kombucha creates. It's also called a "sponge" or "pancake", but it's none of these things. Some call it a "S.C.O.B.Y." (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts), which really just means that we don't know what it is.
From what I've read, kombucha is a bit delicate. Weed organisms may take hold, making it go "off". The 1/2c of kombucha from the previous batch helps set the pH so that kombucha will dominate.
I put it in a wide bowl, put a few long strips of tape over the top, and draped a cheesecloth over it. The cloth allows air to flow in, but keeps out bugs which like the sugar.
Instructions say to keep it somewhere it won't get disturbed, so I used the guest bedroom. They say to start tasting it at 5 days, but I figured the guest room was cooler than the rest of my already cool house, so I let it go a full 10 days.
Today I tasted it (slipped a straw under the edge) and it was really, really sour. 10 days was perhaps a bit much. It was also very tasty.
So I decanted it & started up a new batch.
At first, my 3.5 year old refused to try it based on smell, but eventually decided to take a taste. My wife liked it from the beginning. I think it's delicious.
I'm making the above recipie at 1.5x the stated measurements. Making 1.5qt of kombucha / week just isn't going to cut it for a family of 3, I suspect. I will try to find a bigger bowl, and maybe get two batches going at once (1/2 week apart from each other, perhaps).
You can also put the kombucha in bottles & let them continue to ferment, which becomes more bubbly. I picked up some Grolsch bottles on ebay which I intend to do this in.
I used some good quality green tea, since I don't want caffeine. You can also use black tea & oolong tea. You can't use herbal tea, as kombucha wants to grow on real tea.
The starter you get comes in two parts: a mushroom and a small amount of fresh kombucha. It's possible to get started with just one if you don't have the other, but it's a bit risky. I'd be happy to share my kombucha with anyone who wants to come pick it up. I live near Microsoft in Bellevue, WA. You can also look for sources of Kombucha online
See also the Original Kombucha Yahoo! Group.