First, you take 4 quart of water, bring it to a boil, cut from heat and add 4 tea bags (black tea works best and creates the most health benefits, though a mix of green and/or herbal tea can achieve some desired effects as well) and 1 1/2 cups of sugar (again, pure organic sugar, not honey, not maple syrup or agave nectar will provide the best health benefits.) Allow this sweet tea to return to room temperature (either on the counter overnight, or in a cool room or porch in a few hours) then transfer to a gallon-sized mason jar or equivalent non-metallic container, place the Mother on top, cover the container with cheesecloth and a rubber band and place in an out-of-the-way place where you can still check it every few days. 2 to 3 weeks later, and voila! You have your own, homemade health tonic. The quickest of all the homebrews.
So, let’s talk about the terroir of Kombucha.
It takes patience, hope and practicality:
Patience to wait for the water to boil and again to come down to room temperature.
Patience and Hope to get through the 14-21 day resting period that it requires for the tea and sugar and to naturally collect yeasts and bacteria from the atmosphere to feed the ‘Mother’, who grows and in turn assists and encourages the tea into its full potential.
Practicality to provide the right environment for the tea to ferment unharmed, unshaken and undisturbed so it can do its thing. That means covered against intruders like flies and lint and hair, and set in a temperature controlled environment – like, not next to the roaring fire or the gas range. Practicality also applies in the sense that you have to be dedicated to being in a certain place for that amount of time – this has proven a challenge at times for me as I often house-sit and will be moving from place to place pretty much as a constant factor this year.
The outcome is a stockpile of organic energy there for the sipping; pent-up energy collected over the days just waiting to be released. And its unique energy is variable to its surroundings. Much like humans, adapting to their environment, kombuchas will vary according to the region, weather, season and care they experience. That’s another part of the dance, trying out different rhythms that different locations and their resident microorganisms have to offer.
Kombucha is definitely an easily acquired, local item and is ridiculously easy to make yourself. All fermented foods are most beneficial when procured locally as they excel at taking in the environment around them and metabolizing the surrounding particles into an absorbable energy form. All you need to do is find yourself a Mother from someone currently brewing their own (the Mothers create an offspring from every batch they foster) and you’re ready to go!
Creativity is another great reason to try out making kombucha – with the myriad of tea flavors available, you can really let loose and get funky with your combinations. How about green tea with lemon myrtle or verbena, orange chai spice, berry blast, black tea with fresh ginger slices, rosemary and peach with oolong? (One flavor I don’t recommend is vanilla, its smooth and svelty nature clashes with the acidic, alive tang of the kombucha and doesn’t blend well at all.)
As I’ve tasted some of the commercial brands, I’ve noticed slight differences in each one; the one from Colorado has a soft water taste and feel on the tongue, the ones from California are super bright and spunky, the local Asheville ‘Buchi’ is strong, fierce and independent.
I’m making it a priority to brew at least one batch at every stop I make, in hopes that the terroir of each will lend itself to a uniquely energetic drink, aiding in becoming acclimated to each individual environment I find myself in.