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Kombucha: is it tea? Is it safe? Is it going to kill me in my sleep?

audrea fink ExperimenTEA kombucha tea

by Audrea Fink

Recently, I have been making Kombucha; a fermented tea drink. I was told by my naturopath that I should increase my consumption of matcha, herbal tea and kombucha. So, like every other average American, I'm only following through on 1 of the 3 recommendations. As I've said before, I think herbal tea & matcha are for the birds, yo. I don't know why I thought that if I didn't like matcha or herbal tea, that I would like fermented tea. I do like the idea of fermentation and adding probiotics to my diet and I am a big fan of other fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, salami, and wine. I am also a huge fan of tea. What could possibly go wrong?!?!

What is Kombucha? Kombucha is essentially a scoby (mother or mushroom), made up of bacteria and yeast, tea and sugar all hanging out together. You leave them to ferment for about 10-14 days (depending on how long you forget about it). The scoby is pretty gross looking. It's something that your little brother would've loved to rub in your face while holding you down after you tattled on him. Yeah. Tasty. It consists of an initial fermentation period that can then be followed up with an optional second fermentation period where you add juice or fruit to sweeten it up.

How to Make Kombucha If you're looking for a How-To for making this, go look it up on the internet. I purchased a kit and followed instructions from GetKombucha.com. In fact, they have a 7 day introduction to kombucha email session that I highly recommend if you're interested. I managed to kill a couple of mothers, or scoby's, or mushrooms, or whatever you want to call them. I also managed to make a concoction so sour that vinegar seemed sweet. Turns out, forgetting about it is NOT tasty. Set a reminder folks. :) I haven't been very adventurous with trying types of tea because I'm still trying to figure out how to make it taste as good as what I can buy at Whole Foods. I would just give up but it's $4+ at the store and under $.50 if I make it at home.

What I've Done So Far Below are the teas I used and the outcome is listed in order of preference.

  1. Oolong - I used Four Seasons which is one of my very favorite oolongs. It was great because it was light but still had some bite. I added some raspberries as the second fermentation and it was AMAZING! Seriously, do this. Try this. Then give it to me. I will take all your raspberry oolong kombucha.
  2. Green - I used a Sencha, which is one of the only green teas I like. I'm not a green tea fan but I liked how mild this one came out.
  3. Black - I used Hu Hong. I used it because most recipes call for black tea and this is my current favorite for black. Black tea makes for the most robust flavor and according to some random folks online, a strong bacterial profile. So if you like your profiles weak or less flavorful, try another type of tea. I went through a lot of black tea trying to get my brew just right. I would recommend using nicer teas after you've figured out what you like. You can start with Lipton while you're figuring out how to get it right. It was sad to throw out a sour gallon of Hu Hong.
Up Next
  • Dark Rose - One of the tips you'll read is that you should start with an unflavored tea. Flavorings can kill the scoby. However, I'm going to throw caution to the wind and try it with this tea next. I'm such a "buch" rebel.  <---- That's me using the lingo. Dark rose is a black tea with only rose petals for a little extra flavor so I think it'll be alright.
If you've been thinking about trying kombucha, I highly recommend it. It's considerably cheaper to brew it yourself and it's pretty good for you. Plus, even if you forget about it, it can't outgrow it's container and kill you in your sleep. You're safe! Do you like kombucha? Have you tried making it? Any 'buch horror stories?


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  • audreafink on

    I’ve never tried making kefir although I want to. For whatever reason the kefir grains intimidate me (but the large mucus kombucha disc doesn’t?). I’m all for sharing though! :)

  • Melissa on

    Totally not tea, but our fermented drink of choice is water kefir. I’ll trade you some grape water kefir for some raspberry four seasons ;)


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