What is Kombucha?

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LA’s Green Fest is happening this weekend in downtown LA and these days it’s not a festival without loads of food vendors and food workshops.  Expect to find predominantly vegetarian and vegan fare, cooking demos and workshops.  Hannah Crum, aka Kombucha Mama and the voice behind Kombucha Kamp, will be there with a Kombucha 101 demo.  I asked Hannah to share with us some history and facts on this popular brew…

Kombucha, Kambucha, Combaca (even Kabocha – yes, the squash)…No matter how you pronounce it (or mispronounce it!), the fermented tea with a funny name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Some of you may remember being gifted a squishy, jellyfish-looking  “mushroom” by a well intentioned friend in the 80’s or early 90’s? That mysterious blob called a SCOBY, for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast (no, it is not actually a mushroom, though it is a fungus), ferments in a base of sweet tea for 5-7 days and the resulting beverage tastes a bit like apple cider vinegar and has won fans for it’s purported healing properties.

The legend of Kombucha Tea stretches back thousands of years as home brewed beverage, often maintained by the grandmother and passed down through the generations. It is said to have been invented in 220BC for a Chinese Emperor, favored by Genghis Khan for keeping his men strong on long journeys, credited for saving Nobel Prize winner Alexsander Solzhenitsyn’s life while in exile in Siberia and rumored to have been on Ronald Regan’s daily menu during his presidency.  Modern day movie stars seem drawn to the drink, while recently health conscious types and athletes have finally begun touting the benefits of including fermented foods in our modern diets, specifically Kombucha.  For me, Kombucha is the most versatile of all the fermented foods, as it can be consumed with or without meals and at nearly any time of day, but it is also one of the most powerful fermented foods and when prepared at home is fresh and delicious. Fortunately, it’s also extremely easy to prepare and can be crafted to fit your personal taste. If you can make a cup of tea, you can make Kombucha.

These days, bottles of Kombucha grace the shelves in nearly every Co-Op or Whole Foods across the nation in flavors like Maqui Berry Mint, Wild Root and Verbena Rose. As the nation gradually awakens from its processed food slumber, Kombucha Tea is one of the old folk remedies that has begun to really catch on. With a sticker price of nearly $5 a bottle, its little wonder most consider it a treat, however those who buy it by the case feel the benefits they reap from daily consumption far outweigh the price.

At that price however, it may not actually be very sustainable.  As in green. So come and meet me and learn more about Kombucha at the Los Angeles Green Fest October 29 & 30! I’ll be presenting my renowned “Kombucha 101” class for free on Sunday at 4pm, and if you like what you hear you can walk out with everything you need to try home brewing Kombucha for yourself.  Or at least have the courage to pick up a bottle off the shelf and give it a try! 😉