Our move was wonderfully chaotic! Friends and family helped lighten the load, and by the end of the day we all had beds to sleep in. We said goodbye to a place of many memories (two of our kiddos were born in that house!), an established garden, and the conveniences (and annoyances) of our suburban neighborhood; we are embracing new beginnings, the quiet spaces, and the dreams we hope to accomplish on our urban homestead.
I have felt so blessed in the past weeks. From those who helped us pack, move and unpack, to the thoughtful little gifts and treats we’ve received along the way. The first housewarming gift I received was from a very kind friend of a friend (Thank You!) who gave me a most unusual gift. It’s living… kind of like a plant. And it grows… Kind of like a plant. I guess you could call it a fungi. It’s the most bizarre living thing I’ve ever had.
The gift she gave me was a 4 liter glass jar holding a precious scoby floating atop several cups of already brewed kombucha, or fermented tea.
It reminds me of friendship bread. The kind my mom used to make when we were little. She got some starter from a friend, and she would serve it to friends for lunch or with tea; if they liked it, she would send them home with some starter so they could make their own. Kombucha, like the sourdough starter of friendship bread, is passed from friend to friend, aging, growing and fermenting along the way.
With that in mind, I would like to I unofficially rename my kombucha Friendship Tea. Because it passes from friend to friend, I now have this delicate, living mushroom thingy floating in an old pickle jar on top of three day old tea, which is up on the mantle of my new living room. Yay! (If you cannot find a friend who has a scoby to share, check out Cultures for Health to get your own scoby.)
So what is kombucha? It is basically brewed, sweetened tea that has been fermented. Healthy bacteria and natural yeasts are introduced into the tea by the scoby. These bacteria and yeasts feed on the sugar and other compounds of the tea. When left for 7-10 days, the tea will have been transformed into a slightly effervescent, tangy, incredibly healthful tonic.
The benefits of consuming kombucha are great. It produces glucoronic acid, which is also produced by the liver, and it aids the liver in flushing out waste and foreign toxins. Kombucha also produces lactic acid, which helps keep the body’s pH balanced (a difficult task, considering all of the toxins we are exposed to). And it produces healthy bacteria, also called probiotics, which benefit the gut flora in the intestines and support the immune system.
If you ever find yourself the recipient of a scoby yourself, here is a recipe (that came with mine), with which you can brew your very own batch of Friendship Tea. Since this recipe is so large, and gallon glass jars are not always easy to come by, you can easily halve or even quarter the recipe to make in one or two quart (liter) glass mason jars.
13 cups purified or filtered water
1 1/2 cups finished kombucha tea
1 1/4 cups cane sugar (organic if possible)
4 green tea bags
4 black tea bags
1. Combine water and sugar in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat and add tea bags; steep for 20 minutes.
2. Remove tea bags and allow tea to cool to room temperature.
3. In a gallon (4 L) glass jar, pour the tea and kombucha, and then add the scoby to the surface using two wooden spoons or very clean hands.
4. Cover with a piece of cloth and an elastic band, and put it in an out of the way place with good air circulation, and out of direct sunlight. If you are fermenting other foods, you want to keep your ferments away from each other.
5. Allow to ferment for 7-10 days (or up to two weeks if you like it tart!). And note that the warmer the air temperature is, the faster the fermenting happens.
6. Once the ferment is complete (taste it to be sure you like the flavor) remove the scoby, again with wooden spoons or clean hands. Strain (if desired), and enjoy! (Start with several ounces a day, working up to 1 1/2 cups a day.)