Monday, May 05, 2008

fizzy lifting drink


I have vague memories of visiting my grandparents many years ago and listening to my grandma tell me all about some wonder mushroom tea she and my grandpa were drinking every morning. But I also have vague memories of watching bad saturday television while eating -cold and uncooked, one after another- those frightening processed wiener dogs with the cheeze product in the middle. Which is to say, my childhood wasn't exactly a compendium of good nutrition, so one particular health supplement wasn't bound to make much of an impression.

Kombucha has been on my radar for a long time. I have been curious but not compelled to try it. Until now. I've lived in my new town almost eight months now. Which isn't long enough to, say, be recognized by clerks at the store or library, or have finally gotten the house organized after all those last years of moving (on the average: at least one move a year!), but it is long enough, as it turns out, to have made a friend who will gladly have me over and then send me home with symbiotic yeast and bacteria cultures and an extra pickle jar to brew it in.

I'm already a big fan of cider vinegar, so kombucha isn't that much of a stretch. Oh, and I'm also quite a tea drinker. And I like carbonated things. But not soda. I haven't had a soda since I was pregnant with the girl, lo! a whole decade ago. I cut it out for the good of the little alien critter in my womb and found out, after all, that if you don't drink sodas for a long time, it's nearly impossible to start again. Too sweet and sickening. So I'm particularly fond of slightly carbonated and unsweet beverages. Like beer. I'm particularly fond of beer. For the ritual of five o'clock, for the snap of the opener on the cap (no twist-offs, please), for the tiny, tiny ice crystals that form when I leave one in the freezer just long enough (but not too long!), for the way it feels in my mouth. . . for the way it feels in my head.

I don't expect kombucha to be all that, but I do think it will do me well to have a new drink in my end-of-day repertoire. Also, not even the best northwest brew ever claimed to assist with inflammation, aid arthritis (someday maybe I'll tell you about my stiff and clicky joints, and my increasingly crooked fingers, but I've still sorta got my head in the sand about that stuff), or level one's metabolism. You mean, I can drink this fizzy, fermented tea drink every day and it might boost weight loss? Because beer? Yeah, it works the other direction. See my shrinking wardrobe and my expanding waistline as evidence.

I've read conflicting information on its neurological properties, that it either gives a little energy burst or it instills a sense of well-being. Maybe it does both. Quick and mellow? I can use some of that.

I can't give much of a personal report yet, though. I drank a few glasses from my first batch today. Two days ago, five days into the brewing process, it was still too sweet to my liking. Today it was just right. I shared with my children (the eldest sincerely liked her serving and looks forward to more, the youngest took a mouse sip and said, mmm, that's good, but refused further tastes) and had two small glasses myself. And I like it.

Who knows if it will do me any good. I am assuming that it will, or at least won't do any harm, and I am not at all opposed to any possible placebo effects. Because in addition to having a refreshing, barely bubbling beverage, I guess I already enjoy the process. You know me and process and ritual. I appreciate having an oversized pickle jar sitting on my kitchen counter for a week, covered with a napkin affixed with a rubber band, and doing sniff and taste tests every couple of days. I like taking a slimy starter (which is really called a scoby, so much for the magic mushroom tea) and turning it into something we can drink and use. I mean, when I usually find symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast growing in the back of my fridge, I throw them out, not drink them, right?

And, yeah, I guess I like having a reason to use these cool self-corking bottles from ikea:



Lisa said...

Wow! Your kombucha looks great. I'm so glad to see a progress report.

sj said...

eric drinks kombucha whenever possible and mentioned today he would like to figure out how to make it himself. any tips or websites or whatever that you could pass on would be much appreciated! so far i haven't made a friend [in our 5 years down here]that could send me home with symbiotic yeast and bacteria cultures in an extra pickle jar for brewing. [i say hurray to you for that!!!] we already drink something that is *our* fizzy lifting drink, but i would love to add another :)

Angelina said...

The picture of your scoby reminds me of raw chicken. I just tried some with Lisa recently too and it was pretty good. It is probably just a matter of time before I start begging you for some of your scoby.

Lisa said...

Making kombucha is way easy. You brew sweet tea, put it in a jar, add your scoby and then cover and let it ferment for 4 to 7 days. I can send you a scoby (and directions) if you'd like. If you have anything you'd like to trade or just cover the cost of shipping (about $1.50-$2.00 I would guess).

sj said...

oooh lisa, that would be great. i will click on over and email you....

Lisa said...

sj-Just wanted to let you know I emailed you back, just in case it gets stuck in a spam folder or remains suspended in the ether.