Hannah’s (Pre) Spring Clean: Blog Six – Kombucha: Miracle Drink?
It’s Monday morning in Golden Bay and again, it’s not so golden. The rain is incessant; we’re experiencing a late wintery blast and so I sit here, delaying getting out of bed for as long as possible. I had a wonderful weekend: attending the second part of a fermenting course and later on Saturday heading out in the stormy weather to a friend’s Mexican themed potluck and party.
As the group reconnected on Saturday morning to learn about fermenting foods and drink, we were joined by a few new faces. Making Kombucha was the main focus of the session – again, something I knew little about but had heard many people raving about. Lina is not one for claiming any one food or drink is a miracle cure-all for everyone, but the benefits of including these things into your diet are many…and as a lot of us seem to be searching for things to increase energy, help digestion and generally make us feel good, I think fermenting is a pretty good start.
Kombucha is called a ‘tea’, as it is made by brewing a bunch of black tea and sugar, then adding the culture (called a ‘mushroom’ or SCOBY) and leaving to ferment for up to two weeks before bottling. The result is less like a tea and more like a slightly fizzy juice (reminiscent of cider), varying from sweet to vinegary depending on how long you leave it before bottling. Leaving a bottle for a second fermentation varies the result again – you can even make your own slightly alcoholic ‘bubbly’ by leaving it for 6 months or more. It is versatile – adding flavours either before the second fermentation or even only overnight in the bottle before drinking. We tasted Lina’s examples with bare-faced delight: one made with ginger and lemonades, one with berries. We sniffed the flavoured vinegars, made by leaving the brewed ‘tea’ for a longer period before bottling to create a real vinegar, varied by adding rosemary or even seaweed. The vinegars are extremely useful, not only for the usual things like salad dressings, but also
as a highly effective cleaner: windows, sinks, fridges…the live bacteria contained really eat up all the bad stuff!
And onto the benefits: Kombucha (also known as a Liver Tonic) contains a wide range of organic enzymes, acids and vitamins that are a great source of nutrition alongside the beneficial bacteria. B vitamins provide energy and help process fats and proteins; C vitamins which are potent detoxifiers, immune boosters and enhancers of vitality. The usual benefits of tea are also active, and the sugars activate the yeasts and bacteria.
So – here we have a metabolic balancer, probiotic, adaptogen and detoxifier. Better digestion, more energy, increased function in many bodily systems…are we sure this ISN’T a wonder drink? AND it tastes good? I’m in. In fact, I like the taste so much I can visualise myself at a party, sipping on bottles of sweet, fizzy Kombucha instead of bubbly, wine or gin. I’m keen to start making my own, bottling it up and leaving it in a dark place to do its magic. Come summer, I’ll be enjoying a tasty beverage and helping my body out all at the same time!
We also revisited Kefir, and the use of it to ferment vegetable at home. Such simple techniques to create your own store of beneficial foods in the cupboards and fridge! We’ve been enjoying drinking our Kefir at home since the last workshop; the next step is to source some good, organic raw milk to make it with, although store-bought organic milk is working too. I’m enjoying the slightly fizzy, sour drink a lot, and now we have a blender I’m keen to make Kefir smoothies. It feels empowering to have these cultures in the house, and the knowledge required to create some healthful, delicious food and drinks.
In other news: Saturday’s party was a joy. Surrounded by friends, good food, good music and good vibes, I stayed up dancing on and off until
about 4am, without alcohol! When my beloved finished his DJ set, he rewarded himself with one cold beer, of which I had 3 sips but didn’t
actually enjoy. Neither did he. Hmmm…interesting! It was nice to spend a whole evening without an alcoholic drink in hand, and I didn’t
really miss it either. Apart from the effects of a lack of sleep, I felt really good yesterday and in great spirits. I wonder if, after this month, I can keep this up more often than succumbing to the draw of alcoholic drinks…
Over and out,
Hannah In Bed.