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.
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.
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!