Never look a gift SCOBY in the mouth!

If you know me personally, you will know that I love a freebie. You will also know that just because I know nothing about something, it doesn’t mean that I will not launch myself head first into giving something a go! So it was that I read a post on my Facebook feed offering free SCOBYs to anyone who wanted one !

Now I had heard of a SCOBY before especially in relation to something called kombucha, but I had no idea what either of these words meant. I turned to GOOGLE and this is what I found out.

To those of you in the know, you may recall that it is thought that kombucha began in the Ukraine and Russia during the late 19th century, what you might not know is that in Russian, the kombucha culture is called čajnyj grib (literally “tea mushroom”), while the beverage itself is known as grib (“mushroom” or affectionately gribok – “little mushroom”). Kombucha is, I found out, sometimes also known as Russian mushroom tea. Sounds lovely doesn’t it!

You can find out more about the history of kombucha here, but all you need to know for now is that kombucha is a beverage! To be more precise it is said to be a refreshing probiotic- rich drink produced by fermenting sugar sweetened tea. My research led me to find out that it is also said to have significant health benefits that can cure any number of health problems. Growing in popularity kombucha has become a popular beverage that is available at most health food stores and many local grocery stores. Packed full of of vitamins, minerals and enzymes it is prized for its health-promoting properties and of course comes at a price that reflects this.

To be able to afford a daily fix of this health elixir people have turned their hand to making it at home. It is basically like making sweet tea except that it is fermented by a SCOBY or Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast to give it its Sunday name! Remember my earlier research threw up that another name for kombucha is mushroom tea, well that’s possibly because SCOBYs are also often called mushrooms or the mother.

Armed with a little knowledge, but not really any further in understanding the practicalities of adopting a SCOBY to make my own kombucha, I took the plunge and requested a free SCOBY from said Facebook friend.

Gripping a 500ml Kilner jar, umbrella and Airedale (only jar was a necessity) I ventured over the moors on a wet and windy Tuesday. I’m not sure if it was the weather or excitement of adopting my baby SCOBY, (yes I have anthropomorphised my colony of microbes) but I felt strangely pioneering as I went to collect her. (Of course my SCOBY is female!)

SCOBY ready to go home.

SCOBY ready to go home.

Having acquired my SCOBY, (many thanks to the donor, you know who you are) I transported her home as carefully as you would a new born babe and set to in making my first batch of kombucha. I decided to use the continuous brew method as I’m all for ease. Having completed the process, I dressed the brew festively like an extra from a Christmas nativity, and now need to wait patiently for my girl to do her magic.

SCOBY in sweet tea will feed off sugar and will ferment to make kombucha

SCOBY in sweet tea will feed off sugar and will ferment to make kombucha

So there you have it! Kombucha is a fermented tea that promises health giving benefits due to its probiotic qualities. It is made using a SCOBY that you can usually adopt from a friend that brews their own kombucha. Still uncertain about what I have got myself into? Here is a graphic that explains all. I’ll keep you updated!