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Kombucha : What is this stuff?

Kombucha : What is this stuff?
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  • Kombucha : What is this stuff?

    Post #1 - January 18th, 2007, 12:47 pm
    Post #1 - January 18th, 2007, 12:47 pm Post #1 - January 18th, 2007, 12:47 pm
    Last week, on a whim, I picked up a bottle of GT's Raw Organic Kombucha Gingerade at the Evanston Whole Foods Market, and it only took one swig for me to fall completely in love with the stuff. In all actuality, my first impression was something like this:

    Damn! This stuff tastes like Jamaican Ginger Beer, but, like, a million times better! It has almost no discernable sugar, it doesn't leave a cloying taste in my mouth, and really, really refreshes! I need more!!!*

    Ok, so now, I'm up to, like, a bottle a day. Maybe two bottles. OK, so one day I actually drank three bottles, but that was really nuts.

    I can't really figure out what Kombucha is, exactly, but it would seem to be some sort of vegetative matter which is fermented for a period of time to develop certain (allegedly) beneficial nutrients and enzymes. It's often packaged as a tea-like beverage, and it contains trace amounts of alcohol from the fermentation process, giving it a slight effervescence, as well.

    As you can see from the link above there are several different formulations, and at the store I've noticed two or three different brands. I've tried a number of them by now, and for me, GT's Gingerade remains my favourite. Check it out. I've spent the past week roaming from one Whole Foods to another in an effort to buy up as much of the stuff as possible, so now I'm finally ready to share some info. And, hey, be careful, this stuff ain't cheap. The bottles clear the two dollar bar with no effort at all. ;)

    E.M.

    * The Gingerade formulation contains 30mg of sugar per 8 fl. oz. serving. In contrast, I believe that most Jamaican Ginger Beer formulations contain well in excess of 120mg of sugar per 8fl. oz. serving.
  • Post #2 - January 18th, 2007, 12:53 pm
    Post #2 - January 18th, 2007, 12:53 pm Post #2 - January 18th, 2007, 12:53 pm
    Check it out. I've spent the past week roaming from one Whole Foods to another in an effort to buy up as much of the stuff as possible, so now I'm finally ready to share some info


    I guess we will have to wait until Whole Foods replenishes their stock before we can check it out and respond! :D

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #3 - January 18th, 2007, 12:56 pm
    Post #3 - January 18th, 2007, 12:56 pm Post #3 - January 18th, 2007, 12:56 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:
    Check it out. I've spent the past week roaming from one Whole Foods to another in an effort to buy up as much of the stuff as possible, so now I'm finally ready to share some info


    I guess we will have to wait until Whole Foods replenishes their stock before we can check it out and respond! :D

    Regards,


    I raised a stink at the shops which didn't appear to be carrying it yet, or were low on supply. But, really, there's still a lot around. ;)

    E.M.
  • Post #4 - January 18th, 2007, 1:04 pm
    Post #4 - January 18th, 2007, 1:04 pm Post #4 - January 18th, 2007, 1:04 pm
    I too, am mad for this...but my flavor of choice is Citrus....

    Since I'm mindful of my budget, I have decided that before I start drinking the stuff like water, I've got to start growing the Kombucha myself -- I'm confident that I can make mine taste just as good with the right combination of juice & flavor. There are a lot of kits out there and I've been hesitant to pull the trigger.

    Does anyone have experience with growing Kombucha at home? Are there any sources out there that are trustworthy/reliable?
    CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
    -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    www.cakeandcommerce.com
  • Post #5 - January 18th, 2007, 1:23 pm
    Post #5 - January 18th, 2007, 1:23 pm Post #5 - January 18th, 2007, 1:23 pm
    From their web page
    If it's unpasteurized is it safe?
    Kombucha is “hydroponic” which means that it grows in water as opposed to soil. Therefore, it does not have the opportunities for contamination like soil-based foods


    Besides the fact that the statement above is not true since bacteria and viruses can quite easily contaminate water, I'm pretty sure that all beverages sold in the United States that contain any amount of juice are required to be either heat pasteurized or use some other approved processing method that attains a 5-log reduction in pathogens.
    When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!
  • Post #6 - January 18th, 2007, 5:07 pm
    Post #6 - January 18th, 2007, 5:07 pm Post #6 - January 18th, 2007, 5:07 pm
    What I quickly looked up sort of reminded me of spirulina. Though, Erik, I take it you are enjoying the flavor (and not drinking it for the possible health benefits).
    I've no direct experience with spirulina.
  • Post #7 - January 18th, 2007, 5:45 pm
    Post #7 - January 18th, 2007, 5:45 pm Post #7 - January 18th, 2007, 5:45 pm
    I, too, just found this stuff last week and have been hooked ever since. Tell you the truth, I almost felt a little ashamed picking up the funky, colored bottle off the shelf at Whole Foods, like I was being suckered for some gimmick. And who knows, maybe I still am, but I def'y liked it for its strong taste (and after-taste, although twas clean and not offensive). The thought of throwing in some Goslings and a lime into the gingerade crossed my mind on more than one occasion. And actually, now that I think of it, due to the fermentation process, there's a disclaimer on the bottle that it may contain trace amounts of alcohol. I also liked the raspberry one, which was not overly sweet.

    As far as "growing it" yourself, I came across this website on instructions.
  • Post #8 - January 18th, 2007, 9:22 pm
    Post #8 - January 18th, 2007, 9:22 pm Post #8 - January 18th, 2007, 9:22 pm
    i almost replied instantly to this, but came back with more info after some googling. i haven't tried this "kombucha" product... yet, but here is more info for your perusal.

    i first assumed it was konbu cha, aka tangle tea. i've had this a few times and it's basically konbu (one form of seeweed) steeped in water. it's generally savory, and in honesty is a light broth. koNbu can be sometimes transliterated as koMbu, ala "kombucha". just as the case with alot of other japanese words. frequently binbo (poor) gets transliterated as bimbo.

    another tempting and admittedly to me kinda odd is kombucha, and after reading more descriptions is almost definitely what is being referred to here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha this beverage is basically sweetened black tea that goes though a fermenting process with a kombucha colony (a big fat glob of symbiotic bacteria and yeasts). yummy!
  • Post #9 - January 19th, 2007, 10:26 am
    Post #9 - January 19th, 2007, 10:26 am Post #9 - January 19th, 2007, 10:26 am
    sazerac wrote:Though, Erik, I take it you are enjoying the flavor (and not drinking it for the possible health benefits).
    I've no direct experience with spirulina.


    I love the taste and the mouthfeel, and it also makes me feel really good for awhile after consumption.

    Lucid, but not jacked à la Red Bull and its ilk.

    It'd be great if the product's health claims were valid, but that wasn't my purpose in trying it.

    E.M.
  • Post #10 - January 19th, 2007, 11:22 am
    Post #10 - January 19th, 2007, 11:22 am Post #10 - January 19th, 2007, 11:22 am
    There are numerous health claims for kombucha (the Russian tea-mushroom one, not the Japanese kelp tea), including boosting your immune system, liver detox, clearing up candida, and even curing cancer. (Aleksander Soljenitsin attributed to kombucha his being cured from cancer.)

    Though it is possible that not all these attributes can be held by one substance, the track record of many of these traditional cures has been pretty good so far, when it comes to scientific evidence backing up at least some aspect of the anecdotal evidence. For example, when mad Ophelia hands rosemary to Claudius in "Hamlet," she says it is for rememberance. Scientists have now found that rosemary does in fact help prevent memoray loss and one component, rosemarinic acid, is being used to treat Alzheimer's disease.

    This is only one example, but it is possible that kombucha will be proven to have some beneficial properties. And even if it only tastes really good, science has now found that things that delight the senses, and most particularly the taste buds, actually boost the immune system. So, unless there's just so much sugar in this beverage that it neutralizes the benefits of the kombucha, simply really enjoying it is a benefit.
  • Post #11 - January 24th, 2007, 12:35 pm
    Post #11 - January 24th, 2007, 12:35 pm Post #11 - January 24th, 2007, 12:35 pm
    I have three bottles of it in my fridge right now, including one of the Gingerade variety. The first one I tried, a Raspberry something, freaked me out, both in taste and mouthfeel. I asked my husband to try it and he had the same reaction: what is this stuff? I was trying it for the health benefits and hoping it would taste great.

    For lunch I will try the Gingerade version and see what Erik is talking about.
    "Whatever you are, be a good one." -Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #12 - January 25th, 2007, 12:07 am
    Post #12 - January 25th, 2007, 12:07 am Post #12 - January 25th, 2007, 12:07 am
    Susan wrote:The first one I tried, a Raspberry something, freaked me out, both in taste and mouthfeel. For lunch I will try the Gingerade version and see what Erik is talking about.


    GT's kombucha products all seem to have the same vinegar-sour tang and effervescent mouthfeel, so you may not find a formulation which appeals to you.*

    Perhaps you were put off by the particulate matter which tends to settle at the bottom of the bottles.

    I've taken to shaking the bottles before consumption and that seems to redistribute the stuff so that it is not even noticeable.

    ---------

    My God, this is becoming quite an expensive habit.

    At Whole Foods, GT's kombucha products are back to full price at $3.39 per 16oz. bottle. :?

    E.M.

    * The tang and the fizz are precisely why these products appeal to me, but like I said, I do have my favourite(s).
  • Post #13 - January 28th, 2007, 10:16 am
    Post #13 - January 28th, 2007, 10:16 am Post #13 - January 28th, 2007, 10:16 am
    I've been doing a little research about where to buy Kombucha "mothers" which is what you need to begin growing your own batch of it at home. There seem to be many places where you can do this online. They're relatively cheap it seems.

    I've also been reading a lot about the benefits of drinking Apple Cider Vinegar on a daily basis. Diluting a tablespoon of it in about 6 to 8 oz. of water (sometimes with a bit of honey, sometimes without) creates a drink very similar in taste to Kombucha. It has a similar sparkly feel on the tongue and has many of the same benefits: a digestive aid, high in enzymes & potassium, etc. I should say I only consume the Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, not the regular stuff you can find in most groceries. Apparently the regular ACV has most of the good, healing properties filtered out of it.
  • Post #14 - February 4th, 2007, 1:17 pm
    Post #14 - February 4th, 2007, 1:17 pm Post #14 - February 4th, 2007, 1:17 pm
    Just saw a link on Stereogum where Roger Daltrey endorsed drinking Kombucha to deal with the stress of touring with The Who.

    http://www.stereogum.com/archives/004515.html
  • Post #15 - February 5th, 2007, 12:54 am
    Post #15 - February 5th, 2007, 12:54 am Post #15 - February 5th, 2007, 12:54 am
    It may be good for me, but I don't think my taste buds will let me begin an expensive addiction to Kombucha. I have tried the GingerBerry, plain Ginger and Mango flavors, and none of those times could I get more than a third of the bottle down before I gave up. I guess it's not for me!

    A warning: like all other carbonated beverages, shaking once opened is not advised. Sometimes, like today, I take a sip and decide I did not "mix" it well enough and need to distribute the stringy particulate matter through. I made the mistake of shaking the bright-orange bottle of the mango variety today and both my kids almost fell off their chairs laughing when my face and the table was covered with glowing orange-gold fizz/liquid/particulates.

    It's been a humorous experiment, but now I feel like I should give Erik M. my remaining bottles to save him the cost for a couple of days.
    "Whatever you are, be a good one." -Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #16 - February 5th, 2007, 7:42 pm
    Post #16 - February 5th, 2007, 7:42 pm Post #16 - February 5th, 2007, 7:42 pm
    oh dear Cthulhu

    upon perusing this thread I'm like, kombucha, that's familiar, izzit cuz I'm kneedeep in Andoh's Washoku?

    um

    No.

    I tried kombucha in whatever flavored-variant last year

    you like vinegar, huh?

    you like the idea of drinking effervescent vinegar, maybe?

    ...drink up...

    kombucha's all yours



    thank Nyarlothep
    "Johnny thought when all purpose had been forgotten the world would end this way, with a dance. He slumped back in a corner, drew his knees up to his chin, and watched."-Derek Jarman
  • Post #17 - February 9th, 2007, 11:45 am
    Post #17 - February 9th, 2007, 11:45 am Post #17 - February 9th, 2007, 11:45 am
    I just ordered a kombucha colony from www.kombucha.org. Will post results as I delve into this science experiment.
  • Post #18 - February 9th, 2007, 12:10 pm
    Post #18 - February 9th, 2007, 12:10 pm Post #18 - February 9th, 2007, 12:10 pm
    Yes -- let us know how it goes...
    CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
    -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    www.cakeandcommerce.com
  • Post #19 - February 28th, 2007, 9:05 pm
    Post #19 - February 28th, 2007, 9:05 pm Post #19 - February 28th, 2007, 9:05 pm
    Finally got around to starting my kombucha cultivation after my culture spent a two week dormancy in the back of the fridge. Shown is unopened packets from kombucha.org- one containing two kombucha cultures and one containing two portions of starter tea, both smelling faintly of vinegar.

    Image

    Here is a pic of the culture and starter in the raw. Notice the bloodclot- like strands of yeast.

    Image

    I followed the directions closely with a homebrewer's attention to sanitation. I brewed six teabags and a cup of sugar in one gallon of boiling water and cooled it to 70 degrees in an icewater bath in the sink. I then added one culture and half the supplied starter tea. I covered my jar with a piece of clean cotton cloth and a rubber band. This stuff must have to breathe, carbon dioxide from the fermentation process, I imagine. It supposedly takes one week to brew, will post again when things turn interesting in the jar.
    Here it is ready to bubble in my handsome new Mexican "jarra":

    Image
  • Post #20 - February 28th, 2007, 11:13 pm
    Post #20 - February 28th, 2007, 11:13 pm Post #20 - February 28th, 2007, 11:13 pm
    Joel Wanek wrote:I've also been reading a lot about the benefits of drinking Apple Cider Vinegar on a daily basis. Diluting a tablespoon of it in about 6 to 8 oz. of water (sometimes with a bit of honey, sometimes without) creates a drink very similar in taste to Kombucha. It has a similar sparkly feel on the tongue and has many of the same benefits: a digestive aid, high in enzymes & potassium, etc. I should say I only consume the Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, not the regular stuff you can find in most groceries. Apparently the regular ACV has most of the good, healing properties filtered out of it.


    A rather unexpected advantage to drinking apple cider vinegar is that it keeps mosquitos away. You need a slightly stronger dose -- 2 Tbsp. to that glass of water -- but it works like a dream. I first read this in Christina Dodwell's "Explorer's Handbook," and that reminded me that I once read that Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox of the American Revolution, kept his men healthy by mixing vinegar in the water. Some of it might have been the medicinal qualities of vinegar, but if you're living in a swamp, keeping the mosquitos away also has to be a real health measure. Anyway, I'm one of those people that attracts mosquitos from other states. I can cover myself with bug repellant, and a mosquito will find an eyelash I missed. But with the vinegar, I remain untouched. So if you're planning a trip to Ravinia this coming summer, or camping in the North Woods, try the vinegar trick. One dose protects you for 24 hours.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #21 - March 1st, 2007, 3:13 am
    Post #21 - March 1st, 2007, 3:13 am Post #21 - March 1st, 2007, 3:13 am
    I'd like to know the truth of this as well. I discovered the same brand of Kombucha at a co-op in Phoenix. I bought it, just because I'm a sucker for anything hippie-groovie like, and the fact that it said it was a raw food item (I'm not a raw-food guy myself, I'm just facinated by it). I opened it on the plane ride home and went, damn does this stink.

    First sip? Gross. But I was thirsty, so I kept with it. By the bottom of the bottle I was hooked.

    I drink the one that calls itself 'Trilogy.' I can't get enough of it, although all of my friends think I'm mad.

    Someone please tell me that it is good for me, and that I'm not a fool for spening all that money on it.
  • Post #22 - March 19th, 2007, 10:38 am
    Post #22 - March 19th, 2007, 10:38 am Post #22 - March 19th, 2007, 10:38 am
    I bottled my kombucha last night. It took a week longer than the instructions before a "baby" culture formed in my jar- another jellyfish-like culture rose to the surface of the jar about three days ago. About a week ago it began to smell alcoholic, with tell-tale CO2 bubbling to the surface. I reckon things took longer because the instructions recommended a 70 degree environment or warmer, but I always keep the temps in the sixties at my crib to keep bills low. So, last night I juiced organic blueberries and ginger (to mock GT's gingerberry flavor) and some organic lemons and blood orange for a flavor of our own invention. I took the liberty of adding a step- I added 2 tablespoons of priming sugar, as one would when bottling beer, to promote carbonation. I gave my new baby culture to a friend- a gift that keeps on giving! Oh, and the taste- suprisingly mellow, way less acidic than the GT's product, with a smooth black tea flavor and a beer-like finish. Not bad, especially spiked with juices. This morning the bottles show signs of further carbonation and have the tell-tale clotted culture material floating on the surface. I will give it a week. I have a hunch that its flavor will deepen and become more complex, like bottle conditioned beer. Will update then.
  • Post #23 - March 31st, 2007, 9:30 am
    Post #23 - March 31st, 2007, 9:30 am Post #23 - March 31st, 2007, 9:30 am
    Discovered this morning that about a half a bottle of Kombucha will round-house Chuck-Norris-style kick a "medium grade" hangover into oblivion nearly instantaneously. Seriously, it was like, instant relief.
  • Post #24 - June 11th, 2007, 4:11 pm
    Post #24 - June 11th, 2007, 4:11 pm Post #24 - June 11th, 2007, 4:11 pm
    Hi,

    I'm wondering who here, besides Erik, did imbibe in Kombucha?

    Just curious!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #25 - June 11th, 2007, 11:50 pm
    Post #25 - June 11th, 2007, 11:50 pm Post #25 - June 11th, 2007, 11:50 pm
    I picked some up at Wild Oats (GT brand) when ill recently. Didn't experience any amazing restoration. Had a very sour flavor...smelling it reminded my wife of lambics she doesn't like. Not a bad comparison. No alcohol or carbonation, but a similarly powerful flavor.

    I could see developing a habit if so inclined, but at $3 a pop, I'm quite sure I won't.
  • Post #26 - June 12th, 2007, 5:35 am
    Post #26 - June 12th, 2007, 5:35 am Post #26 - June 12th, 2007, 5:35 am
    ditto for me. I picked up a bottle walking down the street in New York (Dean & Deluca had it in their fridge case). It took some getting used to, but then it sort of grew on me. While I'd drink one again next time I run across it, I am not going out of my way to find.....
  • Post #27 - June 12th, 2007, 8:39 am
    Post #27 - June 12th, 2007, 8:39 am Post #27 - June 12th, 2007, 8:39 am
    HI,

    In odor and taste it reminds me of Russian Kvass, available in 2 liter bottles for under $2. I googled to find there is some relationship to Kvass and Kombucha, though one begins with dried rye bread and the other with an introduced Mother. It also had a cider vinegar taste, which also uses a Mother in its' production.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #28 - June 26th, 2007, 10:39 am
    Post #28 - June 26th, 2007, 10:39 am Post #28 - June 26th, 2007, 10:39 am
    My partner ferments apple cider vinegar on kombucha. I'm not sure if "on" is the right word to use but it seems appropriate in this case. When growing kombucha, thick layers of brown cellulose-like material (or maybe it is cellulose) form which I think house the kombucha. The layers have this smooth striated texture that's pretty interesting. If I figure out how, I'll post a picture of it but touching it is even more interesting.

    He doesn't use black tea anymore for kombucha - just apple juice. We both drink the apple cider vinegar as a tonic and digestive aid. Not a Big Gulp of it, just about 3 ounces or so. It tastes sweeter and richer than store-bought apple cider. Maybe I'll pass around a bottle of cider vinegar at my next lth event? (or some slippery, slimy kombucha starter?)
  • Post #29 - June 20th, 2010, 6:33 pm
    Post #29 - June 20th, 2010, 6:33 pm Post #29 - June 20th, 2010, 6:33 pm
    Looks like I may be brewing my own kombucha soon. I really do like the stuff but now Whole Foods has pulled it off the shelf for quality control issues, I think having more alcohol content than the labels said.

    Would anyone who's brewed it please weigh in with results/advice?
  • Post #30 - July 14th, 2010, 10:52 am
    Post #30 - July 14th, 2010, 10:52 am Post #30 - July 14th, 2010, 10:52 am
    Found this Newsweek article posted on msnbc.com:

    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/13/fermentation-frenzy.html

    Haven't tried kombucha, but my husband swears his homemade sauerkraut cured some digestive issues he was having.

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