With Autumn Solstice nipping at our heels, I have shared several immune boosting elixirs. Today we are going to switch gears, but in no way throw it in reverse because today's post is just as beneficial, just in a different way. Today I have partnered with Meadow Sweet Goat, Otis Classic, and Zenobia's Garden to bring you Kombucha! If you are in the know on fermented food and drink, Kombucha is something that you may have heard of. Kombucha is a traditional fermented drink made of black or green tea and sugar or other sweeteners like fruit juice or honey. It contains many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that provide many health benefits. I first learned of Kombucha a few years ago, and immediately wanted to try my hand at it. At the time, it appeared very unsuccessful, but looking back now, with more knowledge of how the fermented foods work, I realized I just wasn't patient enough and was focusing far too much on "what the hell is that floating in the jar". Like most of the recipes for wellness that I share, it isn't a magic pill that you take and suddenly all things are right within your body, but instead, it supports your decisions to fill your tank with healthy choices. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a clean eating machine, but I also am very in tune with what makes my body feel depleted of what it needs, or when I've had too much of something it doesn't. If I've had prosciutto, there is a good chance that I'm going to feel as though I didn't have enough water, and my fingers will become tight due to the sodium. If I decide that I want cake at a party, there is a huge chance that I'm going to kick ass and take names for about 45 minutes post party cake consumption and then crash and burn when the sugar high wears off. There is nothing Kombucha can do about that, but what it can do is pretty awesome all the same. It aids in Liver detoxification, improves pancreas function, boosts energy, improves mood, and also reduces Candida yeast. Kombucha is fermented by a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). You can grow your own scoby by simply brewing your tea, adding in the sugar, and just waiting for it to form. Unfortunately, it takes weeks for this to happen and I wanted to get a move on, so I opted to obtain my scoby from Zenobia's Garden. It came packaged and sealed perfectly with a cup of starter tea as well which is necessary for a new brew. During fermentation, the magical scoby absorbs 90% of the sugar, leaving you a nutrient rich drink with lots of beneficial probiotics. This little bizarre jelly looking disc is literally magic. While it may not be very aesthetically pleasing with its slick rubbery looking exterior, it's definitely your money maker. Try not to judge the scoby based on looks alone, because after it's all said and done you will take it out and strain off any sediment or yeast that have appeared over the week long ferment. Often referred to as "mother", your scoby makes BABIES! After your fermenting process, you most likely will notice a new scoby has grown and attached itself to your original scoby. The beauty here is that you can detach it and use it for a fresh brew. They are like gremlins!!!!! Except they can die, so it's important to never add your scoby to the new brew when it is 80 degrees or higher. I typically add mine when it's 70-ish. After I have finished brewing, I carefully place my scoby in my tea and cover it with a coffee filter and a rubber band. Never use cheesecloth for this because fruit flies LOVE fermented anything, and the holes are too big. That last thing you want is to spend a week making Kombucha and then find what I call "demons with wings" floating around. I've never had an issue with fruit flies around my Kombucha with the coffee filter/rubber band method. Now, if you recall a previous post a week or so ago where I talked about the benefits of Elderberries, I'm about to blow your mind. Thanks to Meadow Sweet Goat, I had a perfect amount of Elderberries to add to my Kombucha to give it extra immune boosting properties and fantastic flavor. This is referred to as a second ferment. The scoby is removed after 7-8 days, and if you want to add any fresh fruit or fruit juices to add additional flavor to your brew, now is that time. I took the dried Elderberries and added them to my brew, covered it back up and allowed it to infuse its goodness for 2 more days. Not only did it give it an amazing smell, flavor, and added health benefits, but isn't Meadow Sweet Goat the most amazing name ever for a store. It immediately took me back to how much I loved Goat Yoga. Now it's time to bottle your hooch. This is my favorite part because it's the end and it's time to fill these amazing bottles from Otis Classic, and step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Pretty little maids all in a row. I love these bottles because they are a perfect size, and have a durable gasket that allow you to reuse them over and over while holding in all the fizzy goodness. I strained out the elderberries with a mesh strainer lined with a thin layer of cheesecloth, and then funnel it into these 16 oz swing top lid bottles. Easy Peasy. Some of you may have noticed that local supermarkets carry a various assortment of flavored Kombucha. Don't fall victim to the easy way out because rest assured, during the pasteurization process, all of the beneficial properties are killed, and you are essentially left with kombucha flavored drink. Brew your own, so that you can take advantage of all that Kombucha has to offer. Before you start to chug the Kombucha, let me mention the detox "die off". If you are not accustomed to fermented drinks, some people will experience a detox die off, which is due to overgrowth of Candida or other yeast in your body being regulated by the Kombucha. Although I have never experienced this, it can manifest in the form of cold like symptoms. When I began introducing Kombucha into my diet, I did so at a rate of 4-6 ounces a day and worked my way up from there. I have always eaten fermented foods like Sauerkraut, and Kimchi, so I think I could have gone HAM with the Kombucha, but I'm not a fan of any side effects, so I played it safe. There you go guys! That is my PSA on Kombucha. Below you will find the recipe that I used, and feel free to put your own spin on the flavoring and let me know what you like best. Thank you to Meadow Sweet Goat, Otis Classic, and Zenobia's Garden for partnering with me on bringing wellness to the masses. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
You want to brew your tea using whatever method you typically use to brew. Some people do it in a coffee maker and add water, for me, I find it easiest to fill a pot with water and drop the tea bags in. Once the water comes to a boil, remove it from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove your tea bags and add your sugar, mixing thoroughly. Allow your tea to come to room temperature. DO NOT add your scoby until your tea has reached a temperature no greater than 80 degrees. Cover your tea with a tea towel or coffee filter and secure it with a rubber band. Store your tea away from direct sunlight and with some air flow. Don't worry if your scoby sinks. My first brew had a perfectly floating scoby, but my second and third sunk to the bottom. Your scoby can brew perfectly well at the bottom. After a week begin to taste your brew to see if it has reached the desired fizziness. If it has, you can bottle as it is, or continue on with the second brew. Don't forget to reserve a cup of your brew to go into the new brew along with the scoby and don't forget that you never want to store your scoby in the fridge Enjoy your new Kombucha, and if you plan to brew more, go ahead and get started, that way it's ready when you finish what you already have. If you want to wait, be certain to store your Scoby in a sterilized glass jar and cover it with a cloth or coffee filter.