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© Kristin Donnelly
Eric Childs' rad Kombucha Man bracelet.
The first time I tasted kombucha, a bubbly fermented tea, I found the vinegary tang so revolting that I didn’t try it again for over a year. Then, at the office, I did a kombucha taste test—the tang grew on me and after five consecutive shots, I felt pleasantly jittery and ready to conquer the world (or at least my unread e-mails). Bottles of kombucha, sadly, are expensive, so I was reluctant to buy it all the time. Last week, I took a class at The Brooklyn Kitchen to learn to brew the buzz-giving drink at home. My teacher was Eric Childs, the founder of Kombucha Brooklyn, who is so devoted to what he calls "buch" that he had a leather bracelet made that says KombuchaMan. Here are five things I learned:
- The culture used to ferment kombucha is not a mushroom as is sometimes believed. It’s called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)—a name so cute I can see why people get attached to something that looks scarily like a jellyfish.
- The SCOBY can help heal wounds on contact. It also softens skin—kombucha facial anyone?
- The SCOBY is so strong, it’s nearly impossible to tear with your hands. Childs joked that someday, he’d love to make vegan leather out of it.
- The “kombucha buzz,” Childs says, is very real. He attributes it to the little bit of caffeine, alcohol and sugar left in the drink after fermentation.
- After years of testing, Childs says it’s easiest to make kombucha with basic black tea and white sugar. I’m inclined to believe him and I’ll be trying out my first batch this weekend.
A real live SCOBY fresh out of a batch of kombucha.