I Can’t Believe it’s Not Soda: An Adventure In Kombucha Brewing

At my niece’s birthday party last year I tried a fizzy drink called kombucha my sister made. Raspberry flavored, as I recall.  Apparently it is good for you. Having gained much popularity in recent times, you are probably familiar with kombucha. It is a fermented drink made from green tea  filled with lots of probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that live in your intestines.  Probiotics are important to your digestion as well as immune health. Yum, bacteria!

Kombucha was  a perfect choice of drink for me. I had given up drinking juice a few years back because I struggled with hypoglycemia and have seen improvements since quitting juice. (You should quit, too.) Juice lack fiber to slow absorption so it will spike your blood sugar and really is not any better than drinking pop. I do like plain water but I need to taste what I drink once in a while, so I finally learned to enjoy unsweetened tea. Especially fruit flavored. I like fruit.

So something possessed me to decide I really liked this “baptist brew” and decided to try my own hand at making this health beverage. I found myself coming home with a big jar filled with a big blob of goo called scoby, which sounds more like a disease  than something that is good for you.

Feeling like a culinary mad scientist, I attempted my first batch.  Little did I know that it would turn out to be the beginning of a growing love of kombucha brewing, testing out new flavors: Raspberry?  Raspberry vanilla? Ginger! Strawberry ginger! Raspberry strawberry ginger!! Which leads me to my most recent -and risky- experiment in the art of kombucha brewery yet. Cola! Yes, you heard me right. After conducting extensive research, by which I mean expending approximately ten minutes googling natural cola and root beer flavors and thinking,

“Hey, close enough. I’ll go ahead and give this a shot,” I experimented with making a cola-ish flavored kombucha. A healthy cola drink? I really hope I did not waste all those tea bags. Some of the flavors I found include ginger, cinnamon, orange, licorice, nutmeg, and cherry bark.

I tasted it my brew the next morning and took out the mint tea, I like how it blends with the other flavors but it should be much more subtle. I will use only a few fresh mint leaves next time. So far so good.  I let it sit a few more days. Had more of a “cola” taste than root beer, and I can believe it’s not soda, but I like it. I added a tiny bit of anise, more fruit, peaches and raspberries.  After filtering it tastes like fruit punch with a rich blend of spices.

Here is the final recipe:

6 bags Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat tea (Fabulous tea for actors and singers, by the way)

5 bags spearmint/peppermint tea

3 bags ginger tea

2 bags chai tea

1/4 cup blueberries, crushed (otherwise the flavor and juice, from my experience, does not soak well into the tea)

1 peach slice

Handful of raspberries

2 tsp orange peel

1 Tbsp vanilla

A few drops anise extract

Kombucha brewing as well as cooking in my kitchen is always an adventure, sometimes an experiment, sometimes a failure -yes I have a few of those- but always a joy to pursue. Maybe you will follow in my footsteps and experiment with your own blend. Now, this is not fermented pepsi by any means but it does have a unique mix flavors that mimics that cola-type flavor. A toast to the art of making good food and drink!