Written by Rae
I’ve been interested in tea ever since I started working at a local tea shop in Minneapolis that specialized in bubble and loose leaf tea. Combine that with my interest in alternative medicine and natural health care, lead to my discovery of kombucha one day at an organic co-op in Minneapolis. If you don’t know what kombucha is, it’s a fermented tea which contains probiotics, vitamins and minerals. Because of this, it’s very healthy. Sometimes I would buy kombucha for a treat while visiting the co-op. It was, and still continues to be, kind of a luxury drink for those who can afford it. I believe in Minneapolis it was between $3-$4 a bottle. Little did I know, kombucha is so easy to make!
While living in Seoul, I never had the chance to drink kombucha and had forgot all about it. I became interested in kombucha again after recently deciding I was going to start eating more fermented foods. I had already been eating natto for some time now since coming back from a short trip in Japan, but decided to up my game as much as possible. I thought it would be good for me because of the health problems I’ve been having for the last year or two – which reluctantly included antibiotic therapy. When I was eating Korean food, it was never an issue whether or not I’d get to eat a lot of fermented food because I was always eating kimchi. But since cooking more at home for the past two years, I’ve eaten less kimchi and fermented foods overall.
I was able to locate a mushroom on Gmartket after some research. In Korean it is called 홓차벗엇 (hong-cha beoseot), which literally means black tea mushroom. Although in english, the mushroom is called a SCOBY – which stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Sexy, I know.
After my mushroom was delivered, I started began on my kombucha making journey. The mushroom was delivered in some kombucha made with hyeon-mi nok-cha (toasted rice green tea). It was very carbonated and had a strong vinegary flavor. To make kombucha you need to use some of the previous batch or some vinegar for starter, along with sweetened tea and sugar (cooled to room temperature). I used some of the starter the mushroom came in and combined it with sweetened black tea and sugar. Then I let it sit for 1 week at room temperature (yes, it’s that simple) before I strained it for the second ferment, which is when you ferment the kombucha without the mushroom. It’s also the time you can add flavorings like spices or fruit to your kombucha.
I choose to make lemon ginger (big bottle) and peach ginger (small bottle) kombucha. I only let them sit for 1 day in their second fermentation because I couldn’t wait to try it. Normally people wait at least 2 or more days to build flavor and carbonation. However, I think mine turned out really well. They have just enough natural carbonation and flavor, and are very drinkable. They are still tangy without being super vinegary, which is what will happen if you let it ferment for a long time. They are sweet and have a little bite from the ginger. I really like the black tea, peach and ginger combination because at the tea shop I used to work at we had a peach ginger black tea that I used to enjoy. The best part about kombucha is that it is totally healthy and has very little trace of the sugar that you originally have to add in the beginning because the bacteria eat it all.
With kombucha, you can keep reusing the mushrooms to make more batches, and with each batch, a new mushroom grows (a baby) in addition to the one you added. I used the two baby scobys that grew to make more kombucha because I last time I only made around 2 Liters. I’m aiming for around 3 this time, and hope to try out new flavor combos! I just have to wait 6 more days for the next batch . . .