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What is Kombucha?

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Last year, I took a long weekend and drove down to Maryland to see my friend. At one point during the visit, we were eating dinner and I saw her open up a curious, brightly colored orange drink. It wasn’t a soda, but made a similar “fizzy” noise every time the cap was taken on and off.

The drink, as it turns out, was kombucha, a beverage made by fermenting tea and other flavorings with a bacteria and yeast starter called a scoby. The smell was sour and fruity, like oranges or lemons. I took a sip and wasn’t turned off, but my first taste left something to be desired.

Earlier this year, I came across a whole shelf of kombucha varieties in the organic section of Wegmans. I was determined to try it again to see if I could develop a taste for what was supposed to be an incredibly nutritious drink and a source of natural probiotics.

I raided the section, choosing three or four different flavors of GT’s Synergy Kombucha to see if I just had a bad first impression of it when I sampled some on my trip. Sure enough, the taste grew on me after trying a few different flavors. I now make it a point to buy a few bottles each time I take a trip to the grocery store, so you might say that I’m a little addicted.

Much like my Starbucks addiction, my kombucha habit has also started to add up. It has left me wondering how hard it would be to make a batch of homemade kombucha myself — not that it would be a total replacement for the fruity, yummy varieties that I’ve come to love (the Synergy Trilogy is my favorite), but it could be a fun way to experiment with creating flavors of my own. I’ve fermented things before — beer, cider, and pickles included. How hard could it be?

There are tons of articles to outline the process, which seems simple enough. The Kitchn has particularly good instructions with photos that I must have read three or four times now. I learned that the equipment is common for anyone who has brewed beer in the past (I’ve done plenty of that), and the actual recipe features simple ingredients, including: filtered water, sugar, black tea, a starter culture from a bottle of kombucha that you would buy at the store, and a kombucha scoby (the heart of the fermentation process — and you can even grow your own scoby, if you’re brave.)

To make things even more stupid-simple, I decided to buy this kombucha homebrew kit from Kombucha Brooklyn, complete with everything needed to brew my first half-gallon batch. I have yet to get it in the mail yet since I just placed the order, but when I do you can expect a follow-up post and to hear some of my impressions about the experience, which I’m really looking forward to trying.

Have you ever tried kombucha? Did you like it? Let me know in a comment!