Yes, I just made up that name. For years I’ve been rather fascinated by Kombucha but hardly fascinated by the taste of it. However, just like many things we know are good for us – we’ll try it over and over again hoping to eventually learn to like it.
I was impressed with a story told to me by my step-daughter just the other night about her journey with Kombucha. She has always been supportive of my life with tea but not what I would call an over-the-top tea lover, but when she shared her homemade Kombucha with me – I have to admit I was thoroughly impressed by her tenacity.
Just like me, and probably like many of you, when she first tried Kombucha she hated it. Nonetheless, she was courageous enough to keep trying it until one day she was pleasantly surprised by the taste of it. Being the creative cook and food lover she is – she decided to make her own batch of Kombucha.
She didn’t get lucky with her first batch. It took many attempts over months to bottle something she was proud enough to share with others.
There is a whole Kombucha society out there! People near and far, sharing their secrets and even selling the “magic” ingredient that turns tea and sugar into Kombucha – the “SCOBY!”
This creepy looking, gelatinous blob makes all the magic happen. SCOBY is an acronym: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, and people pass this living thing around and others sell it.
This is why I am calling it “Friendship Tea.” As she was proudly sharing her story of passing her SCOBY along to friends, it reminded me of something we had done in the 70s. We passed around something similar to SCOBY in jars and sealed plastic bags to our friends, it was the starter for something we called “Friendship Cake”.
I’m including a link that made my mouth water with the memory of this Friendship Cake so you can have a look at it for yourself –– FRIENDSHIP CAKE
It seems we have been engaging in this sharing of “starters” for sometime throughout history – here’s a similar bread/cake recipe you might enjoy.
Simpler Sourdough Bread starter recipes are something else we’ve been sharing with friends and family for generations – but I do believe the history of sharing the starter for Kombucha may just exceed all other methods of giving out precious and cherished starters by millennia.
Kombucha was known as the Tea of Immortality by the Chinese – here is a brief history from one of the many Kombucha sites out there – “The Chinese are famed for their quest for all manner of longevity elixirs. From Kombucha to Chinese medicine, the Chinese have always looked to nature to cure what ails them. At that time it was called “The Tea of Immortality.” Chá (茶) is the Chinese word for tea. In China, Kombucha has been called “Sea Treasure” (海寶), “Stomach Treasure” (胃寶) and “Sea Mushroom”(海蘑菇). Today, it goes by the names hongchajun 红茶菌 (literally “red tea bacteria/fungus/yeast”), hongchagu 红茶菇 (“red tea mushroom”), or chameijun 茶霉菌 (“tea mold”). During the Cultural Revolution, every household had a pot of Kombucha brewing, but it has fallen out of the daily routine of the modern Chinese lifestyle.”
Perhaps this sacred elixir has fallen out of the daily Chinese routine, but very much like the SCOBY itself, around most the world, it is certainly alive and well, living and thriving, and being shared out of friendship and good wishes for better health and longevity.
Those of us in the world of tea know firsthand how well tea and friendship go together – whether it is sharing a cup of tea with a dear friend or making a brand new friend over a cup of tea – it is also being done in the tea world of Kombucha.
With Kombucha being known as a “gut-friendly” beverage and tea being widely known for all the friendships created by it, with it, and because of it – I feel quite confident calling Kombucha the “friendship tea.”
My thanks to LaShanda Brittian of Shuga Shack Kombucha for sharing her journey, and a few tasty samples of her homemade Kombucha. I am delighted to say that the Blackberry Kombucha featured in the photos was truly very delicious.
You will see a SCOBY sample floating in the glass in one of the photos. Every home-made bottle will have one. You can drink it or begin a journey of your very own in making Kombucha. I drank the one in the photo – because it’s so darn good for you – and yes, I have a bit of a buzz going on right now !