Shortly after my fermentation obsession kicked in full-throttle, I became interested in Kombucha, a fermented beverage that enjoyed its moment in the spotlight as a health food fad through the 90s and again in the early 2000s. Having managed to skip over it entirely due to the rigorous sugar-free diet I was on back when the craze was at its peak, I bought a bottle of a commercial brand so that I could finally find out what all of the fuss was about. Since tasting it I have come to the conclusion that the tangy, fizzy beverage is enjoyable enough, but my real interest lies in the process of making it.
Kombucha is a sweet and sour drink that is made by placing an ugly, deformed, gelatinous mass that eerily resembles regurgitated rubber (hungry yet?), known as a mother or SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) into a vessel of sweetened black tea. Over time the SCOBY feeds on the sugars, resulting in a bubbly drink with a mild, vinegar-like bite.