What’s the best kombucha tea out there? I frequently get asked this question by those starting out. As there are a plethora of teas on the market, along with many drinks masquerading as tea, it’s pretty tough to find your way through it all. So here’s a little of what I’ve learnt during my years brewing booch.
Once upon a time, every home had pots and pots of different foods in various stages of fermentation. There is no part of the world that doesn’t have a tradition of fermentation, whether you’re talking about alcoholic beverages, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, cheese, bread, soy sauce, salami or our own kombucha. But over the last 50 years or so, many cultures have lost a big part of the skills and traditions surrounding food fermentation.
As every kombucha brewer knows, behind every great brew there’s a potent old mother. But wait… isn’t it rather insulting to talk about your old mum in that way? Don’t we show respect to our elders? Well indeed we do. So much so that we name them. We are talking about our mother cultures, of course – the very essence of a great kombucha.
Like most of us today, my life is pretty frenetic. To add to a rapidly growing business, my wife and I have two wonderful but extremely active children, Alistair, 12, and Emilie, 9, and a dog called Rafa, that absorb a lot of our time. We also have a few acres of garden, and we try to grow as much as we can for the pot. We also have a clutch of chickens and a forest full of food to forage for the table. My wife and I do try to get a moment to ourselves from time to time, […]
As drinks go, kombucha is a fairly polarising substance. There are those that love it, can’t get enough of it, and can’t be without it even for a day or two. We (did I just admit to being one of these… ?) can be seen lugging a heavier than usual bag through the airport on a weekend away, laden down by the mighty booch.
To those in the kombucha world, a well-formed scoby is a thing of beauty. Not only is it quite a miracle that a pot full of bacteria can collectively manufacture a thick layer of cellulose, sometimes and inch or more thick, but it’s also strangely enticing to find that the cellulose itself is soft, pliable and has the texture of a deliciously fresh squid. Or maybe that’s just me…
What do you call a kombucha novice? No, this isn’t a joke. There is no punchline. We’ve all been there and experienced that very first sip, accompanied by an anticipation that tinges on a mild form of fear. After all, how could something so tasty come from something so weird-looking?
How do you serve your booch? I have been seen, on the odd occasion, supping a Smoke House straight out of the bottle, and it is tough to fight the urge to draw off a warm glass of Royal Flush straight out of the fermenter, sweet and fruity with a touch of lanolin. It’s just like milk straight from the cow. But is there a way that you ought to serve your Real Kombucha? What’s the best glass? Should you take it neat? Each to their own I say, but here’s the way I like it.
We don’t like to dwell too much on the science of what we brew; we think you are more interested in sitting back and quaffing a wonderfully rich and refreshing glass of kombucha and leaving the boffin bit to us. But for those that want to understand a bit of what we do, here goes.
As you probably know by now, kombucha is a yeast and bacterial fermentation of sweet tea that produces a drink that sits somewhere along the spectrum of cider, beer and wine. That said, it has a very low alcohol content, has pretty low sugar and only a few calories, and there are those that would have us also believe that it is a cure for almost every ailment in the book. We are not completely convinced, but it certainly makes you feel tip top.