Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making kombucha is dangerous!

A couple years ago a friend of mine gave me a kombucha mushroom. Technically, it’s yeast and bacteria. People just call it a mushroom, because that's what it looks like. It is easy to brew and easy to share, as it self-propagates. Kombucha alchemy! I was excited!

I sent one of my babies to a faraway friend. I had to send it in its juice to keep it alive. Then I had to seal it really well and surround it in bubble wrap and paper, disguising it to bypass postal regulations. It was a little nerve-wracking, because you could feel it sloshing and smell the slight vinegary liquid! I felt subversive but excited to be sharing something that keeps on giving. It's satisfying. If you like kombucha, I recommend brewing it. There are several places to purchase it online. I haven't bought it this way before, tho' and can't really recommend anyone.

I brewed for a long time, but when I went on vacation one year, I came home and found my mushrooms gone! That’s a story I won’t go into here. ANYWAY, I decided to try again, even though I don’t have a mushroom. I decided to try brewing with just the starter drink. We’ll see if it works. I’ll let you know when it’s done.

Kombucha Tea
adapted from experience, the internet and...
Kombucha Miracle Fungus: The Essential Handbook by Harald Tietze

Boil enough water for a teapot. Add 4 bags of organic black tea. At this time you can add fresh herbs (equal parts of yarrow, dandelion, stinging nettle, elder, and raspberry leaves). I haven't braved it yet, because the book I mentioned above indicated that this might create a medium for undesirable mold.

And ¾ - 3 C (1/4-1 C per quart) white, granulated sugar to tea. Through fermentation white sugar gets transformed into lactic acid and alcohol.

Stir until dissolved.

Let steep for 10 minutes. Then remove teabags. Let sit until room temperature.

Pour into a sterilized, widemouth glass container.

Add 1 C kombucha tea (or 2 tablespoons of cider or white wine vinegar).

Add the remainder of filtered water to bring the total amount to 10 cups. Fill to within 1 ½ inches from the top of the container.

Place the fungus in the liquid smooth side up. Cover the container with muslin and anchor with elastic. Stand container in a dark, warm place (70-84 degrees) or use a heated brewing mat. Since it's so warm here already, I didn't use a heating pad. And I just use this craft corner in my bedroom, because it's clean, dark and undisturbed.

Check after 4 or 5 days. Your kombucha tea will be ready in 5-10 days (depending on the temperature). With clean hands, remove fungus onto a plate. Strain ferment into bottles, leaving air space at the top. Keep in refrigerator. Separate the offspring (produced by binary fission) and reuse. Each fungus can be reused 4-5 times. Or place in an airtight container, cover with some brew, leaving room at the top, and store for 3-6 months.

Post script: I knelt on the floor in my bedroom to take the last picture for you all. When I went to get up, my toe caught in my pant leg...and I...went...flying! Because I had my camera in hand, I couldn't break my fall and crashed into my closet door. My glasses smashed into my face and were covered in paint and scratches. And I got a gnarly bump on my forehead. I've had a killer headache since then. Hopefully it's just coffee withdrawals. Making kombucha is dangerous!


  1. So interesting. I've never heard this before.

    Oh my goodness... what a fall. All for a picture for this post... the things we do. I hope your headache goes away soon.

  2. I have never heard of this either...where have I been?! I must look into it...

    SO sorry to hear of your fall....ah, the price of your art....*grin*..Be well...

  3. Hee-hee! I wish I had a more interesting story or some better "art" to accompany the knot, but c'est la vie. Last night my cats were being crazy (getting a muffin off the counter and munching loudly next to my bedroom, coughing up a hairball on the end of my bed) and woke me up. Of course, my husband slept through it all! My head was still throbbing and kept me up for 4 or 5 hours after that. But, I'm happy to say, the headache is nearly gone. Whew!

    Anyway, I never considered that people don't know what kombucha is! If I'd have known, I would have written a more descriptive post. Thanks for letting me know! You can get it ready-made in the refrigerated section of your natural foods store. It's a good probiotic and gives ya some oomph. Some people like it, some don't.

  4. Kombucha sounds good - I'd been thinking of making some of this myself sometime, so thanks for showing the process.

    Not so good - your head! Hope it's feeling a bit better now.

  5. docwitch, kombucha is so easy to make and much cheaper than buying it. You've gotta try it first, though, to see if you like it. It's strong! :)

    Oh, my head is 100% better. Thanks. I can't believe it. Like I said, I was up much of the night because of my head (and my naughty cats), but in the morning it was all clear. And then I exercised. If you knew me, you would know that this is not something I am prone to do--ever! My husband said I should hit my head more often (now that I'm writing this it doesn't sound nice, but he didn't mean it that way)!

  6. Way to keep us in suspense! I kept reading, kept reading...why is kombucha dangerous? Then ha ha...sorry about your head, though!

    I love kombucha. It makes me feel great! Everyone seems to have a different method to make it. Yours looks simple. I just might make some more tomorrow. I've got a mushroom keeping in some kombucha liquid in my fridge. I have proof you can keep it that way for 6 months and it'll still work! (I've done it.)

  7. Oh, Lisa, when I wrote this post, I was peering through slitted eyes. My head hurt sooo bad. I'm surprised I got this written at all! That said, I'm not sure I could have tied it in better. I'm not sure about my brain, sometimes! It all makes sense to me...but I'm afraid things get lost in translation. ;)

    I think I might have to find myself a mushroom. My shroom-less brew doesn't seem to be taking. Maybe I'll see if anyone in my local Weston-Price group has one to sell.

  8. Catching up on old posts after vacation...

    We used to brew kombucha. It's yummy! Even my little kids liked it. The one thing was what to do with all the mushrooms created, though. We just didn't have anywhere to send them (all our likely local prospects already had their own) and so we would compost them :-(

    I might have to see if there's anyone around here who has a spare husband's digestion would really benefit from kombucha again.

  9. That's funny that you say that about composting. I have a friend who had a hard time composting them. They just seem like an entity, ya know?

  10. One thing is certain about kombucha, it's been around of thousands of years and the benefits have NOT yet been scienticifally explained. However, I have personally drank it for over 5 years and had wonderful success with digestive problems, ph balance in the body, yeast infections (yuck), and many more things ... but I drink it because it tastes great and I feel great when I drink it. My favorite brank is a locally made & sold here -->