Soon after I discovered my wheat problem I was reading about some of the things that other people had come across in their own personal searches for better health and I stumbled across Kombucha, a drink I knew absolutely nothing about. I was intrigued enough to buy a bottle of GT’s and I liked the taste so since this stuff has been touted as fixing nearly every possible affliction that affects mankind (I was, and remain, skeptical on that one) I decided to make my own. At about $3.50 a bottle I simply couldn’t afford to buy it every day.
Luckily, we have a great Kombucha company here in town (Lionheart Kombucha) and it’s run by really helpful people. Jared showed me how to make it at home, I made my first gallon, and I was hooked. Soon I was making four gallons at once in rotation and I began to amass a backlog; I had so much I started selling the extra on Craigslist.
On the off chance that you’re reading this with no idea of what Kombucha is, here’s a quick-and-dirty rundown. Kombucha is a beverage made by fermenting sweet tea. It takes about two weeks to make a batch of plain, unflavored Kombucha, but it tastes better to me if you referment it, which means that when you bottle it you add a bit of sugar and a flavoring agent such as ginger. Then you wait a few weeks and see what you’ve got.
The thing that really knocks me out about Kombucha is how I feel better after I drink it; I am convinced this is not some result of the placebo effect – I think it genuinely works. If you have minor muscle aches, it makes them better. If you’re a little tired, it can pick you up without giving you a coffee buzz. According to people on the internet it cures just about everything (I’ve even seen people claiming cancer cures – like I said, I don’t believe everything I read.) but I’ll stick to what I know, and what our family has seen is that it’s just a good tonic for general use. I drink some after every workout now; in fact, I drink this stuff every day.
It’s really, really cheap to make (I don’t know the exact cost because I’ve never taken the time to figure it out, it’s that cheap), with the major expense being the initial setup of jars and (in my case) an incubator to keep it at a constant, higher-than-room temperature (I live in Oregon, where it’s not that balmy in the winter). For me, the incubator was very simple, consisting of an old Coleman picnic cooler and a milk crate. Turns out the milk crate had exactly the same width as the cooler so it sits in the top of the cooler on the lip with just a slight gap on each side; I use one side to let the tiny light bulb’s power cord exit and I block the other. (The light bulb keeps the temperature at a remarkably constant 80 degrees F.) I wrapped an old blanket around the milk crate’s honeycombed sides to retain the heat, cut a lid from some matboard with four holes in it so the jars’ openings could protrude (Kombucha needs access to air – you cover the jars’ mouths with cloth fastened with a rubber band to keep insects out and that’s all you need) and I was set.
My own personal favorite is ginger Kombucha but I also make sassafras regularly and occasionally brew it with crushed juniper berries (ginbucha, and it’s pretty darn good!), using Gunpowder Green Tea from The Jasmine Pearl, a great tea shop here in Portland. And I threaten people with Clambucha but have never had the courage to make any, although I did do a couple of batches with Indian green curry paste – HOT, yikes! That one was too much of an acquired taste for me, although I have friends who really liked it.
Kombucha isn’t all that hard to make, and it is expensive to buy. If you haven’t made it before, do some poking around and check out the thousands of how-to sites. It’s one of the woo-woo products that could actually help you out.