2.18.2008

I approve: Kombucha


I often go through phases where I obsessively eat, drink, watch, listen, wear, etc. the same thing over and over again. It has happened with S'mores pop tarts, orange juice, Grey's Anatomy DVDs, Wilco albums, and my poor threadbare black zip-hoody from H&M. What recently began as a simple phase however, has snowballed itself into a full-on infatuation. Me and kombucha, sitting in a tree...

Kombucha, pronounce KUM-BOO-CHA, is a health beverage essentially made of fermented mushrooms. Yummy. In reality, however, most of the mass-produced Kombucha drinks (particularly GT's "Synergy" brand pictured to above) have been naturally flavored so they taste much better than the raw kombucha itself.

My roommate works at Clover's Natural Market here in Columbia, so I am no stranger to odd health foods and homeopathic remedies; in fact, the better that something is for me, and the worse something tastes, the more I like it. One day while grocery shopping at Clover's I grabbed one of GT's Synergy Kombuchas. Laura, my roomie, yelled from across the store "NO, NOT THAT. YOU'LL HATE THAT!" I was so confused, why would the employees of this store be convincing someone NOT to buy something? Naturally, I had to get it.

One of the general managers explained that because it is made of fermented shrooms (unfortunately not the psychedelic kind) Kombucha tastes acidic, almost like vinegar or a wine-cooler. Upon first swig, I realized that although it was not easy to drink, it wasn't nearly as bad as everyone made it out to be.

I then learned that Kombucha has gained such recent popularity because of the plethora of health benefits that go along with consumption. Drinking Kombucha aids with digestion, metabolism, immune system, appetite control, weight control, liver function, body alkalinity, anti-aging, cell integrity, and healthy skin and nails. The creator of one of the most popular bottled brands, GT, "began bottling Kombucha in 1995 after his mother's success from drinking it during her battle with breast cancer." I figure, I am idiot not to drink this stuff.

One of the best parts about the drink, however, is not the numerous health benefits it may support, but just the way it makes you feel. KOMBUCHA GIVES YOU A NATURAL HIGH. The first time I drank it, I was driving on Highway WW. I have driven this road probably at least 100 times. Half a bottle and a multi-vitamin later, I felt like I was seeing the road for the first time. and the trees. and, oh my god, there's a lake and a deer! Everything looked brighter and sharper, I had more energy, and I was jolly. JOLLY. Granted, Kombucha has TRACE amounts of alcohol, but I know that this .05% did not contribute to my altered consciousness that day, Kombucha has the power to simply make you feel amazing.

Kombucha isn't available everywhere. The only places in CoMO I have found Kombucha thus far are both Clover's Natural Markets, the Peace Nook downtown, and the natural area of the Broadway Hy-Vee store. Make sure to drink it cold, and GENTLY shake (there are chunks of the fermentation on the bottom of the bottle, these are called "strands" and they are coveted.)

Some people bottle their own Kombucha. These people are crazy and I admire their passion. However, I think I will continue to pay $3.50 per bottle. I whole heartedly believe it is worth every penny.

ps: I have tried every flavor of GT's Kombucha (thanks, Jack, for getting me a cooler full of different bottles!) and I recommend the "Strawberry Serenity" or "Divine Grape" for newbies.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Hey:


Kombucha is amazing; especially when you have it everyday, the only issue is that it's so expensive.

I started brewing it a bit ago, and actually found your blog as I researched different opinions on how to brew it.

Basically it's a big mass of spent yeast and bacterium (along with other types of acids and B-Vitamins that give you all the health benefits) that can be continually grown and brewed. The mushroom you were talking about is actually something like a big bacteria and yeast cake; rough and odd feeling.

Each time you brew a new batch of Kombucha, you produce a new Momma Mushroom that will then birth, in the next batch, another SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast).

I've been looking for a way to give away some scoby's; if you want one, or know of anyone that wants one, then let me know. It's really a shame to watch them go to waste when they could be helping other people brew.

Oh! And I'm in Columbia, MO. :)