My new lifestyle in the hip part of town came with an unexpected upside. The MOTHER.
A previous tenant somehow obtained this slimy bastard from the good people of Wunder Pils, a local kombuchateria.
In the world outside of Austin, you probably don't think highly of slimy disks of yeast, because you don't know the FIRST THING about kombucha. What, do you also not have a tattoo of an owl on your side boob? Gross.
Kombucha is a fermented tea, and drinking it takes you to a new level of unbearable food nerd. Making your own kombucha makes it easy for other people to draw a lot of other unsavory conclusions about your lifestyle, and they are all 100% correct.
Frequently Axed Questions
EWWW WHAT IS THAT?
It's a disk of bacteria-infused yeast, floating in a jar of room-temperature sweet tea. This slimy clump is called a SCOBY, aka The Kombucha Mother. "Scoby" is a cute abbreviation for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. The scoby itself gets larger every week. It feels how you have always imagined a breast implant must feel, only it peels apart into thin layers, much like a Pillsbury biscuit.
NOTE: You may have heard vinegar starters referred to as a "Mother of Vinegar." They look just like a scoby, so until recently I thought they were interchangeable. Luckily, there was never an emergency that required me to make vinegar from scratch, because if there had been I would have made a complete ass out of myself.
What does it taste like?
Sweet tea with an alarming tang. Store-bought kombucha is usually carbonated. Kombucha is naturally somewhat effervescent, because of the adorable burps of the darling little yeast colonies. The texture of homemade kombucha merely suggests the first stages of bubbles, without actually producing a fizz.
What are the supposed benefits of drinking kombucha?
- It infuses you with exotic strains of probiotics. Probiotics do all that yogurt magic, realigning your tummy chakras, and making up for all the times you accidentally ate the fruit sticker on your apple.
- If you're me and you drink it on an empty stomach, you'll get to experience the beauty and the terror of a sudden, projectile cleanse.
- When it rains, mushrooms sprout behind your ears.
NOW I'M THIRSTY. How do I get started, jammin' on that scoby jive?
Buy a bottle of kombucha from the store, if you live somewhere civilized. I recommend Wonder Pils and Kosmic Kombucha.
You will notice snotty clumps of god-knows-what at the very end of your bottle. Add these to a pitcher-sized batch of black or green tea, sweetened with a cup of sugar and cooled down to room temperature. If you're a big baby who hates guessing, here are some actual instructions.
Cover the jar with a paper towel or cheese cloth. If you don't cover it with something porous, the gasses won't be able to escape. If the gasses can't escape, I don't know what will happen, but we're all adults here and we know that if you can avoid inviting trapped gasses into your home, you should.
And that's it! Now you just sit back and relax and let the monster evolve. To kill the time, try scatting. SCOBY dee bee dee dee, dee do bap do! If you're not as cute as I am, try to find a way to contribute to the economy.
Two weeks later, if you haven't died from excitement, make a fresh batch of iced tea. It's important to include 1 whole cup of sugar per big ole' pot of iced tea. Make sure to alot enough time to let your tea cool down all the way to room temp, which can take an entire afternoon.
Ladle some of the fermented tea into a dish. Remove the scoby from the kombucha and plop it into a puddle of its home juices. This will prevent it from going into shock while you harvest your hippie bullshit. Because it is comprised of delicately-fused sheets of bacteria, contact with antibacterial soap will kill it. So don't wash your hands before you lovingly pry it from its home, but do rinse them in the hottest water you can stand.
Put the kombucha into pitchers. Constantly remind people to drink it.
Say "How bout some 'booch?" really casually, like you don't even care. In your desperation, recommend that they mix it with beer to make a kombeercha.
Why would they drink that?
Because the yeast in the kombucha eats the sugar in the alcohol, which is what dehydrates you and gives you a hangover.
Did you make that up?
Yeah. But you do need room in your fridge for the next batch in this never-ending cycle of yeast and alternative health, so do whatever you have to do.
How will my friends react to my new hobby?
I had visitors recently, and I tried to force them to take an interest in my ugly, gooey baby. They didn't, but seeing how happy mine made me, decided to have one of their own upon returning home.
And from the dark water came Excalibur. This is a batch made from the dregs at the bottom of a kombucha bottle.
God, I hate that now I'm at that age when my Facebook feed is all just people sharing pictures of their new scobies.